Microsoft pulls beta of Chinese microblogging service; blames third-party developer

For the second time in the past couple of months, Microsoft has pulled a piece of code amid allegations of "theft." And, as was the case last time, Microsoft is attributing any problems to a third-party developer. On December 14, Microsoft officials suspended the beta of Juku, a microblogging service Microsoft is testing in China, that looks almost identical to Plurk, another Twitter-like service that is popular in Asia.

For the second time in the past couple of months, Microsoft has pulled a piece of code amid allegations of "theft." And, as was the case last time, Microsoft is attributing any problems to a third-party developer.

On December 14, Microsoft officials suspended the beta of Juku, a microblogging service Microsoft is testing in China. (Microsoft officials don't seem to consider Juku a Twitter-like microblogging service; they prefer to say it is a service that is based on Windows Live Messenger.) The Juku beta looks almost identical to Plurk (see below), a microblogging service that is popular in Asia.

Microsoft issued a statement late in the day on December 14 and said t was investigating the matter. From the release:

"Here’s what we know at this point. Our MSN China joint venture contracted with an independent vendor to create a feature called MSN Juku that allowed MSN users to find friends via microblogging and online games. This MSN Juku feature was made available to MSN China users in November and is still in beta.

"Because questions have been raised about the code base comprising the service, MSN China will be suspending access to the Juku beta feature temporarily while we investigate the matter fully."

Update: (Afternoon ET on December15): Microsoft issued another statement, admitting Juku includes copied code and said the beta of Juku will be suspended indefinitely. Microsoft apologized to Plurk and added: "In the wake of this incident, Microsoft and our MSN China joint venture will be taking a look at our practices around applications code provided by third-party vendors."

In November, Microsoft officials pulled a Windows 7 download tool from the Microsoft Store after blogger Rafael Rivera found the tool included some embedded GPL code which Microsoft was not offering under an open-source license. Microsoft officials said the offending code was added by a third-party developer and, after reworking the tool, reposted it on the company's CodePlex site under the GPL v2 open-source license.

I realize Microsoft is a big company that works with a lot of different shops, but it does seem like some new oversight policies are sorely needed on Microsoft's part --avoiding  "blame the third-party later" situations like these.

China MSN and Plurk compared

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