Microsoft said Friday that its inquiry confirms that a tool aimed to make it easier to load Windows 7 on a Netbook does in fact contain open-source code.
"After looking at the code in question, we are now able to confirm this was indeed the case, although it was not intentional on our part," Microsoft's Peter Galli said in a blog posting. "While we had contracted with a third party to create the tool, we share responsibility as we did not catch it as part of our code review process. We have furthermore conducted a review of other code provided through the Microsoft Store and this was the only incident of this sort we could find.
As a result, Microsoft said it will make available next week the source code for the tool as well as the binaries under the terms of the General Public License (GPL v2). Microsoft will also make the tool again available to customers at the Microsoft store.
Microsoft had pulled the software utility down earlier this week after blogger Rafael Rivera noted in a posting that the tool appeared to use code from the open source ImageMaster project. (Of note, that project is now no longer available on CodePlex, where it had been posted).
Though somewhat arcane, the Windows USB/DVD Tool was Microsoft's answer to a tough problem--upgrading the operating system on Netbooks and other PCs without an optical drive.
Microsoft had been exploring for months different ways to handle the issue, eventually settling on this software program, released last month, which lets users take a downloadable copy of the operating system and create a bootable drive.
Releasing software under an open-source license is not entirely new to Microsoft, although Microsoft typically doesn't do so under the GPL, which it sees as one of the more restrictive of the open-source licenses.
The software maker did release a few Linux drivers under GPLv2, although it may have had its hand forced there as well. Some have suggested the drivers contained GPL code, meaning that they necessarily would have had to be released back under the same GPL license.