Microsoft decided to pull its Windows 7 for Netbooks downloading tool from its online store. While Microsoft declined to officially comment, the takedown is likely in response to allegations that code for the tool was lifted from a CodePlex-hosted open-source project. The original program, the Windows 7 USB/DVD Download Tool (WUDT), was intended to help Microsoft capitalize on netbooks' enduring popularity among consumers.
yanked its Windows 7 USB/DVD
Download Tool (WUDT) from the online Microsoft Store on Nov. 10, allegedly
because the program incorporated code from the GPLv2-licensed ImageMaster
project. Microsoft originally introduced the USB/DVD
Download Tool as a method for netbook users, some of whom lack DVD
drives on their devices, to install Windows 7 on their machines.
The ImageMaster project, hosted on Codeplex, is described
on its site
as "a .Net C# application for reading and writing disc
a Nov. 6 posting on the Within Windows blog
, Rafael Rivera described how he
had a "weird feeling" after poking through the WUDT's internals that
"there was just wayyyyyy too much code in there for such a simple
Rivera then claims he did some more digging. "A simple search of some
method names and properties ... revealed the source code was obviously lifted
from the CodePlex-hosted (yikes) GPLv2-licensed ImageMaster project. (The
author of the code was not contacted by Microsoft."
According to Rivera, Microsoft may have violated ImageMaster's terms for use
of the open source code, declining to provide "source code for their
modifications to ImageMaster" and stapling on their own licensing terms,
"further restricting your rights to the software."
As Rivera's blog posting gained traction in the larger media, it seems,
Microsoft made the decision to pull the WUDT from the offerings on the
Microsoft Store, although the
"Windows 7 for Netbooks" page
remains active without an "Add
to Cart" link.
"We are currently looking into this issue and are taking down the
Tool (WUDT) from the Microsoft Store site until our review of this matter is
complete," a Microsoft spokesperson said in a Nov. 10 e-mail to eWEEK.
"We apologize to our customers for any inconvenience."
WUDT was originally intended to make porting Windows 7 onto netbooks a
relatively easy process.
"For netbook users without DVD
drivers, the Windows 7 USB/DVD
Download Tool will take an ISO image and
create a bootable UDB device that can be used to install Windows 7," Microsoft
spokesperson Brandon LeBlanc wrote in an Oct. 22 entry on The Windows Blog
while cautioning that users would need to configure their netbook's BIOS before
they could boot off that USB device or
external DVD player.
Despite the popularity of netbooks-something that led Microsoft to create a Windows
7 solution for the devices in the first place-Redmond has publicly suggested
that it would like consumers to gravitate toward higher-priced
"ultra-thins" that can potentially run higher-margin versions of
CEO Steve Ballmer said during the company's annual Financial Analyst Meeting
over the summer that Microsoft's manufacturing partners would likely begin
introducing ultra-thin PCs with a higher price point than netbooks by the end
"We want people to be able to get the advantages of lightweight
performance," Ballmer told analysts, "and be able to spend more money
A new survey by online electronics marketplace Retrevo, released on Nov. 5,
suggests that the
Windows 7 Starter Edition currently loaded on many netbooks may end up
. Of the 1,100 respondents apparently making up
Retrevo's survey pool, 56 percent said they would "not be satisfied if
their netbook came with Windows 7 Starter Edition" after being told the
version lacked some features such as DVD