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Microsoft Admits to Purloined Plurk Code

Microsoft confirmed on Tuesday that one of its software vendors copied code from a microblogging application called Plurk.

A blog post by Plurk, based in Mississauga, Canada, complained on Monday that a beta of Microsoft's Juku social networking software looked a lot like Plurk. Not only was the user interface similar, but Juku used nearly identical code.

"Microsoft has taken Plurk's custom developed libraries, css files and client code and just ported them directly over to their service without any attempt to even mask this!," the Plurk blog stated. The blog estimated that Microsoft had stolen about "80% of the client and product codebase" from Plurk.

Responding to Plurk's claims, Microsoft took responsibility for the intellectual property violation and announced that public access to the Juku beta has been suspended indefinitely.

"We apologize to Plurk and we will be reaching out to them directly to explain what happened and the steps we have taken to resolve the situation," Microsoft said in a released statement.

Juku was developed for Microsoft by a Chinese software vendor for use on MSN China, a Microsoft "joint venture." In response to the Plurk complaint, Microsoft and MSN China are reviewing their policies concerning code supplied by third-party software vendors, according to Microsoft's statement.

Microsoft has been tripped up by third-party software vendors in the recent past. In November, the company acknowledged that a Windows 7 installation tool built by a vendor contained open source code licensed under GNU General Public License v2.

As for Plurk, it has other problems besides just competing with its own stolen code. The startup company claimed in late April that China blocked its service for unknown reasons.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for 1105 Media's Converge360 group.

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