Microsoft coughs to Plurk theft

December 17, 2009 | 10:00

Tags: #microblogging #social-networking

Companies: #microsoft

Microsoft has found itself under fire after it transpired a new social networking service it launched in China had copied design and code from a Canadian microblogging service.

As reported over on Digital Trends, Microsoft has confessed that its MSN China-based Juku service stole both layout and code from Canadian startup Plurk to use in its newly-launched platform.

The code reuse was immediately obvious to anyone familiar with the platform, with Plurk pointing towards blatant theft of everything from the general layout of the site - including Plurk's pretty unique side-scrolling timeline - to large chunks of JavaScript code that had somehow found their way into Microsoft's site.

While Microsoft has admitted that the service ripped Plurk off - and has suspended Juku indefinitely until it can be re-written from the ground up - it blames a third-party vendor contracted to create the platform on Microsoft's behalf.

If this excuse seems familiar, it's because this is far from the first time a lazy third-party contractor has landed Microsoft in hot water: just last month the company was forced to re-write a Windows 7 download utility after it was found to have stolen GPL-licensed code from the open-source ImageMaster project, for which it blamed another un-named "third party."

For its part, Microsoft is contrite over the mess up - stating to be "disappointed" in having to remove the Juku service so soon after launch but apologising to Plurk and offering to "[reach] out to them directly to explain what happened and the steps we have taken to resolve the situation."

Are you amazed that so blatant a theft could go unnoticed until launch, or do you think this could be the best thing that has ever happened to Plurk - increasing its visibility in Western markets massively? Share your thoughts over in the forums.
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