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Microsoft GPL violation hits memory hole

More theater for open-source faithful

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OSCON: updated Microsoft has dished up the warm fuzzies for the open-source faithful following an earlier sleight of hand on its massive code drop to GPL.

On Wednesday, at OSCON, the company touted new and existing open-source plug-ins for Office, SQL Server, and its emerging Azure cloud for science and academia.

Tony Hey, corporate vice president of external research at Microsoft's Research, announced a set of plug ins for Microsoft Live@EDU to Moodle released under GPLv2. Microsoft Live@EDU provides online email, IM, calendar, MSN alerts, and Bing search, while Moodle is an open-source, web-based course management system.

This would have been the perfect moment to flag Microsoft Live@EDU as Microsoft's second contribution to GPL in a week, following the milestone donation of 20,000 lines of Linux-driver code used in Hyper-V hypervisor.

The timing and the audience were all right.

But Hey failed to reference the GPL code drop.

And so he should, because two days after Microsoft broke the news about the 20,000-code donation with huge fanfare and much back slapping, it emerged that the Linux driver Microsoft contributed had actually violated the terms of the GPL.

Stephen Hemminger, a principal engineer with open-source network vendor Vyatta and self-proclaimed Linux network plumber, said he'd discovered the Hyper-V code used open-source components under GPL that had been combined with Microsoft binaries. The violation was confirmed here. Microsoft has yet to comment.

Under the terms of the GPL, any module that's been combined with code licensed under GPL must be released under the GPL.

Microsoft not only failed to mention this violation when announcing its contribution, it came out guns blazing to say it was acting to help customers running Linux on Windows.

The less said about the whole episode at OSCON, then, the better.

Hey continued to list Microsoft Office and SQL Server projects it has released under a Creative Commons license - a workflow system called Trident, a context and semantic tool for SQL Server called Zentity, and software for data visualization in Excel, a project called Node XL.

Shifting to Azure, Hey said Microsoft is now using its dev cloud to run a compute-intensive tool called PhiloD, used for statistical analysis of data on the DNA of HIV from large studies. PhiloD crunches one to two thousand CPU hours, and Hey said PhiloD had been put on Azure make the input of data easier.

Hey said Microsoft is trying to create extensions for its various platforms for the scientific community. ®

This article has been updated to clarify that it was Microsoft's plug-ins to Moodle that were released under GPLv2.

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