Microsoft delays open-sourcing of Windows 7 tool

Postpones re-release of netbook upgrade tool after admitting it copied code

Microsoft has delayed re-releasing a Windows 7 installation tool that it has admitted included open-source code, saying that it's still testing the revamped utility.

The company now plans to issue a new version of Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool (WUDT) in the "next few weeks," said Peter Galli, Microsoft's open-source community manager in a post to the firm's Port25 blog last Friday.

Two weeks ago, Microsoft yanked WUDT from its Web site after blogger Rafael Rivera accused the company of lifting code from the GPLv2-licensed "Imagemaster" open-source project. Rivera, who writes the Within Windows blog, said Microsoft compounded the problem by not acknowledging the source of the code embedded in WDUT, and by not sharing the source code for its modifications, or the tool itself, to the project, as required by the terms of GPL (GNU General Public License).

Galli admitted the error Nov. 13, also on the Port25 blog , saying that it was "not intentional on our part." He blamed a third-party developer Microsoft had contracted to create WDUT, but said Microsoft took final responsibility for the snafu.

"We share responsibility, as we did not catch it as part of our code review process," Galli said.

At the time, Galli also promised that Microsoft would make the source code and the binaries for WDUT available the following week under the GPLv2 terms.

However, he had to backtrack on Friday. "While we worked extremely hard to try and get the code ready for release by today [Nov. 20], we still need to test and localize it," said Galli. "Our goal is now to release the tool in all languages on the same day in the next few weeks."

Microsoft originally released WUDT in October, when it touted the tool as a way for netbook owners to create a bootable flash drive from a downloaded .iso file, or disk image, of Windows 7 purchased from Microsoft's online store. Most netbooks lack an optical drive and so can't install the new OS from a DVD.

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Gregg Keizer

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