Feeds

Microsoft honours Linux programmer with patent gong

You can't make this stuff up

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

The Power of One Brief: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

In what must be one of the most surreal stories we've ever covered, Microsoft has awarded a Linux devotee with one of the company's most coveted patents awards -even though the recipient has never worked for Microsoft.

The story begins with work done by Intrinsa software developer Bill Softky on the Valley start-up's much-lauded software analysis tools. These let developers find bugs in software that might otherwise appear only through traditional regression testing.

Intrinsa created a virtual environment for a program in the build process, plotting multiple execution paths that could uncover memory conflicts and other errors without manual intervention. And the software was lauded by Cisco (a major customer) and Sun Microsystems in its brief life as a commercial product.

Softky himself devised a way of presenting this information to the user, and his patent is under consideration by the US Patent Office: one of several filed by Intrinsa. However Intrinsa was subsequently bought by Microsoft, with most of the development team moving to Redmond. But not Bill.

Now, Microsoft duly honours its patent-holders with an award, and the patent in this case fell into its lap with the purchase of Intrinsa. As ever, true to its word, Microsoft obliged by dispatching the gong - an inscribed cube to Softky.

"Thanks for your inventive contribution to Microsoft..." reads the inscription. The irony isn't lost on Softky, who runs Linux at home and has does his development work on the free software OS.

"To me, they're the Evil Empire. They're the Borg!" says Softky, who refused to be assimilated, and now works for a digital imaging company in the Valley.

But, we wondered, wasn't it a little ungrateful to keep an award given to him by a company he loathes? Shouldn't he do a John Lennon, and return the gong?

"It's kind of a badge of honour", he told us. "And anyway, I've got a much too perverse a sense of humour to give anything like this back!"

But he may have unintentionally gotten his revenge already. The much-reported 63,000 'bugs' in Windows 2000, which leaked out to spoil the launch of the product, were unearthed in large part through the Intrinsa software that he helped write.

Bill regrets that the Intrinsa software has, since its acquisition, been used by Microsoft internally only, and has yet to be incorporated into Visual Studio. Or Intrinsia.NET, or whatever Redmond calls it these days... ®

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

More from The Register

next story
KDE releases ice-cream coloured Plasma 5 just in time for summer
Melty but refreshing - popular rival to Mint's Cinnamon's still a work in progress
NO MORE ALL CAPS and other pleasures of Visual Studio 14
Unpicking a packed preview that breaks down ASP.NET
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
Cheer up, Nokia fans. It can start making mobes again in 18 months
The real winner of the Nokia sale is *drumroll* ... Nokia
Put down that Oracle database patch: It could cost $23,000 per CPU
On-by-default INMEMORY tech a boon for developers ... as long as they can afford it
Another day, another Firefox: Version 31 is upon us ALREADY
Web devs, Mozilla really wants you to like this one
Google shows off new Chrome OS look
Athena springs full-grown from Chromium project's head
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.