The GPL at work, Windows 7 Edition

As you’ve likely read and as was originally reported here, we’ve been investigating a report that the Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool, might contain GPLv2 code. The WUDT is a free tool that was offered by the Microsoft Store and which enabled customers to create bootable USB drives or DVD backup media from the electronic software (ESD) edition of Windows 7 that comes in an ISO format.

After looking at the code in question, we are now able to confirm this was indeed the case, although it was not intentional on our part. While we had contracted with a third party to create the tool, we share responsibility as we did not catch it as part of our code review process. We have furthermore conducted a review of other code provided through the Microsoft Store and this was the only incident of this sort we could find.

When it comes to our attention that a Microsoft component contains third party code, our aim is to be respectful of the terms under which that code is being shared. As a result, we will be making the source code as well as binaries for this tool available next week under the terms of the General Public License v2 as described here, and are also taking measures to apply what we have learned from this experience for future code reviews we perform.

We apologize to our customers for any inconvenience this has caused.

Pretty cool of Microsoft to take this seriously, and not be a douche about it.

A victory for open source. Now free software lovers will be able to install Windows 7 on their netbooks without having to resort to proprietary code.

You are being ironic?

This story is relatively meaningless on all fronts, IMO. Had the same thing happened with a core component of the Windows kernel and not some minor helper app that nobody gives a shit about to begin with, they’d be suing the crap out of the third party, refusing to open the code (or at least code it links with) and they’d have a good case that they aren’t violating the GPL so much as they are victims of some other people breaching contract.

This decision was simply the path of least resistance on something they just don’t really care about anyway.

Of course not. It’s important for me to be able to install programs (actually “binary data” is a better description of what electronic ones and zeros are) using Free Software. Not just open source software, and definitely not proprietary software.

BTW, I’ll probably reinstall Win7 on my Macbook Air again once the GPL version comes out. Who knows what spyware and malware M$ included in their original build that they’re removing now…

Are you talking about the tool or Windows 7 itself? If it’s the former, what’s stopping Microsoft from including the spyware and malware you’re so afraid of in the OS itself rather the tool? If it’s the latter, and you’re being serious, you’re delusional.

He used “M$” - do you really expect to take him seriously?


The size or importance of the violation isn’t really important; if they let small stuff like this slide, it might make it harder to argue the validity of the GPL when bigger, more important cases come along.

Why would you care if the tool is proprietary? What the hell are you doing using Windows 7 if you are a free software zealot? Shouldn’t you be using Sugar, Ubuntu, gOS, or one of the myriad of other free OS for netbooks?

Yep, precedence is a magical thing.

Microsoft basically does the exactly right thing to do in this situation and your response is that they’re still evil and wrong, citing a hypothetical example you made up in your head as evidence? Give them credit where credit is due.

I think you’re confusing me with one of the “M$” people like Midnight Son when in reality I’m a Microsoft Fanboi (post-Windows 2000, anyway) who has contributed to a number of open source projects but thinks the GPL is pretty lame for a number of reasons.

I’m not saying what they did is evil and wrong, just that it is meaningless and is a much different response than they would have had if one of their important products like Windows or Office had been found to have GPL code inserted by a third party.

First of all: guys, checkers is trolling you and it is hilaroius.

Overall, I’m with CCZ on this one. It’s a cute story, but little else.

Granted, in theory it’s possible that them caving now could in theory set a precedent that might hurt them if this ever happens on a greater scale, but that was unlikely enough to begin with, and I don’t think it will be hard for them to take further measures to prevent it.

Shhh, you’re spoiling it! :)