I was going through my newsreader this morning and came across this article: Microsoft China rips off Asia’s No. 1 Microblogging Service. Now, I have publicly come out as not being a big fan of Plurk. However, that opinion is more about me and how my mind works as opposed to a poor endorsement of the microblogging service itself. It is more a reflection of how my brain works (or doesn't work depending on who you talk to). I just struggle moving back and forth in the timeline, trying to find the "conversation" and then working through it… However, I have a good number of friends who absolutely love Plurk. Now, onto the real direction of this post.
Now I have to say, I am a "Microsoft guy" but that view may be changing. While I will still accept the mantle of MSG, I was self-admittedly shocked to read Plurk's post on the possibility that MS completely stole not only their concept and design, but may have resorted to culling through Plurk's code and outright copying it (almost line for line). Here is a brief outline according to Plurk of Microsoft's possible actions:
According to Plurk
- Microsoft China officially launched its own microblogging service, MSN Juku/Hompy/Mclub, some time in November, 2009.
- The service’s design and UI is by and large an EXACT copy of Plurk’s innovative left-right timeline scrolling navigation system. (see screen captures below)
- Some 80% of the client and product codebase appears to be stolen directly from Plurk! (see evidence below).
- Plurk was never approached nor collaborated in any capacity with MS on this service.
- As a young startup, we’re stunned, shocked, and unsure what to do next and need your support and suggestions."
They follow up in their post with screen shots and code snippets… To my untrained eye they really look close (maybe exact) I don't know. However, if these charges are indeed true, This is unacceptable on many levels. Well, I am not in China so perhaps that is why I cannot find ANY reference to Juku on Microsoft's site, nothing official from Bing or Google searches, or by any other means. However, here are a few quotes "supposedly from Microsoft on various blogs and news articles I could find: (quote link will take you to the article)
- Microsoft said: “Juku is a local innovation developed by MSN China … based on Windows Live Messenger networks.”
- MSN China, the Microsoft joint venture that developed the new product, insisted it is not a microblog service. “Juku is a local innovation developed by MSN China … based on Windows Live Messenger networks,” a company representative said in an e-mail.
Things are really just heating up on this story, and I imagine more press as time goes on, but everyone needs to draw attention to this issue. Is this simply another one of the many many products that Chinese companies reverse engineer and preset as a knockoff? If this is the case, Microsoft cannot allow this type of action from one of its divisions. It sounds a bit like the line when Windows 7 was first released. Or could it be more line the 1991 film Anti-Trust?