Many common software applications are built on the works executed by our predecesors, indeed this is the very heart of the Free Software movement. Recently a representative Microsoft™ Corp., Jim Allchin, has publicly attacked this movement stating that it is "unamerican" and states "I can't imagine something that could be worse than this for the software business and the intellectual-property business.'' However it is common knowledge that the Windows operating system has relied upon the efforts of those who have been working in the Open Source Community. Cited most commonly is ftp.exe. Running strings on the binary* returns the text:

@(#) Copyright (c) 1983 The Regents of the University of California.

The same can also be seen in the nslookup.exe binary:

@(#) Copyright (c) 1985,1989 Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.
@(#)nslookup.c 5.39 (Berkeley) 6/24/90
A.ROOT-SERVERS.NET.
@(#)commands.l 5.13 (Berkeley) 7/24/90

finger.exe, rcp.exe and rsh.exe all contain similar notices as well.

Now, it's easy to become angry at this point, but remember that under the provisions of the BSD Licence Microsoft is sitting on firm legal ground in what they are doing. I'm not saying that what they are doing is wrong, it's merely hypocritical. One could argue that it would be of little effort for a monolithic corporation like Microsoft to get some in-hous programmer to write these simple utilities, one would think it was a small matter. But under the scrutiny which Microsoft lies you'd think they'b be a bit more carful about what they say, and not find themselves in such a trap.

One could say that Mr. Allchin was making his comments soley in reference to the GNU Public Licence (which requires users of source code from GPL'd software to, in turn, reveal their source code)then it becomes clear that Microsoft wants to be able to take from the community without having to give anything in return. Of course they do, they are out to make money. It is also possible that Microsoft paied the University of Californa for use of this, although I find it unlikey as the BSD Licence does not require that. These utilities have been around a long time and have the benefit of having been worked on by an entire generation of programmers.

One could figure that Microsoft probably likes the convenience that the BSD Licence provides and has experienced frustration with the aspects of the GPL that require disclosure of source code. The comments made my Mr. Allchin could have been in response to finding some beautiful code for a feature and unable to use it due to the provisions of the GPL. However with the likes of Sun Microsystems, IBM and Hewlett-Packard all throwing their hat into the ring of Free Software, combined with the efforts of The Gnome Foundation to create a stable and easy to use GUI, I can see how the company could feel threatened by this.



* All comments extracted from binaries included with Windows 2000.
tftv256 has pointed out that the winsock.h that comes with VC++6 also contains the Berkeley copyright notice.

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