back to article Microsoft China accused of pilfering webcode

A popular Asian microblogging site has accused Microsoft of ripping off its code and interface design to build a new MSN social-networking site in China. Microsoft tells The Reg it's investigating the matter. According to reports, the software giant is suspending access to the MSN site, but it appears it is still online. " …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    You don't get to be the world superpower software vendor just by hard work and creativity.

  2. Anonymous Coward

    Completely misleading

    "Speaking technically, what makes our claim a little stronger is that Plurk's client side code was obfuscated to begin with, so someone went in there and had to spend some real effort to unpack/reengineer the JS code and prettify it on their end," a Plunk spokesman told The Reg.

    Click of a button:

  3. Neal 5


    In a seperate interview, one of the 3 co founders of plurk, says most of the code comes from open source. Also hard to know whether the script he's talking about are from template, or individually designed.

    I would be sceptical of a lot of these claims, for instance, there is actually nothing new in Plurks design either, and with a bit of effort, I'm sure that something similar to that could be found elsewhere on the web, it'snot unfeasible, and in which case where do you stand there then.

    I notice that El Reg uses some imagery that is not solely common to The Register, where does El Reg sand on that issue, or other websites using a similar layout to El Regs stand with their view.

    As an aside, I notice that Sainsburys online is an near on replica of, I also notice that many banking sites are near on identical to each other as well. Is it fair to assume that Barclays are sharing the same code as NatWest?. Any similarities in the code then, could simply be put down to the fact, that create the pages that both Barclays and NatWest want, when using the same programming languages, means using near enough the same format, even when coded up by different people. Unless of course, Barclays and Natwest are using a basic template.

    1. Mobius

      @Neal 5 - Banks, Supermarkets

      This analogy is not applicable here. Similarities between these websites is due to these companies use some of the same off-the-shelf eCommerce products, so yes they are sharing code but in the sense that they paid for the same products.

    2. foo_bar_baz
      Paris Hilton


      Instead of wasting your time on lengthy pontification you could have spent a moment looking at the Splunk blog post. It's a cut and dry case of wholesale plagiarism, not a just copying the look and feel. MS have taken their service domn and a public mea culpa is to follow. No court case.

      Paris because she'd have more brains

  4. Daniel Pimley


    "Microsoft takes intellectual property seriously"

    "Microsoft seriously takes intellectual property"


  5. Nick 6


    You don't get to be the world superpower economy just by hard work and creativity.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    When in Rome...

    Microsoft China is just doing what everyone else in China does - ignoring international copyright.

    I don't think we should be surprised really...

  7. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "Microsoft takes intellectual property seriously"

    The only IP that MS respects is its own, and MS will pay any number of lawyers to ensure that you do too. MS just wants to extend that protection to everyone else's IP, whether they like it or not.

  8. Anonymous Coward

    looks like...

    ...some designer thought it better to to cut and paste then pass of as their own rather than, you know, design. Sign of the times I guess.

    To be fair to MS, looks like they were unaware of what had happened and soon as they found out, they have yanked it.

    1. Anonymous Coward


      "To be fair to MS, looks like they were unaware of what had happened and soon as they found out, they have yanked it."

      But to what point is a company not responsible for the actions of its employees, even if they are located in a country that has no respect for intellectual property legislation?

  9. lucmars

    After all...

    that's Microsoft China, as it seems to be usual in China.

  10. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

    Nowadays Time and Space are much more ....Convergent, rather than Divisive.

    "Microsoft takes intellectual property seriously, and we are currently investigating these allegations," Redmond general manager of corporate communications Mark Murray told us. "It may take some time due to the time zone differences with Beijing." ...... Well, no more than24 hours would be a very generous time window.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    When in China... as the Chinese do?

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    They are kidding, surely?

    1. The Fuzzy Wotnot
      Thumb Up

      That'll be Web 2.0

      Yep, one of the stupid Web 2.0 names, they always sound like those captions you used to get on the old 60s Batman series, when the caped crusader was in a scrap! Stuff like, ZONK! SPLIFF! BANG! GONK! SPLANG!

  13. iamapizza

    Which is worse?

    That they blatantly copied another website's design, or that they copied it considering how crap that layout is?

  14. Mage Silver badge

    MS copying? Not news

    Copied Products:

    FAT, DOS (from CP/M, DR-DOS)

    Directories and Utilities: MS DOS 2.11 and later (UNIX)

    Windows 1.x, 2.x (Xerox Star, DR-GEM, Apple Lisa)

    Windows 3.x (Xerox Star, Apple)

    Win7 GUI (OS X)

    C# (Java)

    IE (based on Mosaic)

    Basic (for CP/M and DOS from Dartmouth Basic)

    MS 32bit TCP/IP (Win32S on Win3.x and later, All current Windows) from BSD/UNIX

    MS origami/Tablet Edition

    MS Media Centre

    MS Surface

    Bought in:

    Autoroute, Visio, SQL, Microsoft Services for Unix, MS Terminal Services and many more.

    Good Original Design & Implementation:

    GUI version of Word and Excel (but implemented for Mac first)

    Core of NT3.1 inc Kernel, now polluted by NT5x & NT6.x (Win2K, XP, Win2003, Vista, Win2008, Win7), based on VMS and OS/2.

    Kernel of WinCE/Mobile (but the GUI concept of copying desktop windows was a fail).

    Total Rubbish:

    Exchange Server.

    1. foo_bar_baz


      Except there's a subtle difference between imitation and plagiarism. You can make a bad imitation (windows) but you can't use someone's code without permission, as is the case here.

    2. Luther Blissett

      M$ pasting, cont.

      You forgot (there may be still more) -

      Copied Products: mouse

      Bought in: C compiler (was Wizard)

  15. TeeCee Gold badge

    MS response:

    "When in Rome.............."

  16. Ian Davies
    Gates Horns

    So unlike them

    Copying and stealing from a market sector leader? Not Microsoft's style, surely?

  17. billium
    Gates Horns

    M$ China accused of pilfering webcode

    May be Plurk should have PGA Plurk Genuine Advantage.

  18. Anonymous Coward

    Wikileaks China Advisory

    There's an interesting travel advisory for business / politicos over at wikileaks with guidelines for visiting China. It talks of bugged hotels, taxi's and restuarants; of a huge network of informants and government secret agents willing to use blackmail, extortion and foul play to obtain information.

    I tried to visit China last year during the Olympics only to find their consulates were ordered to stop issuing visa's to foreigners effectively closing the borders. Seems to be a very brutal regime desperate to maintain its grip on total power at almost any cost...

  19. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    Let's make quite sure it isn't the other way around.

    Or, as someone suggested, open source... but would you obfuscate your web site tool that is open source code? Could you? Should you?

    I suppose that open source using Javascript is one thing, and using a standard template that theoretically could be horribly abused by hackers is another. Hypothetically. Maybe there is a security benefit in e.g. using different random variable names on each page in the same standard program.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Intellectual property theft / China

    ... isn't that a tautology?

  21. Ed Blackshaw Silver badge

    Eats Shoots and Leaves

    I believe the Microsoft qoute is missing a comma. Here, fixed it for you:

    "Microsoft takes intellectual property, seriously"

    I mean, it's not the first time they have ripped off UI elements, and it won't be the last, and it's not like they're the only ones doing this sort of thing either.

  22. Dirk Vandenheuvel

    Web devs are funny

    I always have to laugh when web developers think they write real complicated code.

  23. f1rest0rm

    But why?

    Would you copy that hideous interface?

    Whatever the rights and wrongs I don't fancy Plurk's chances ....

    1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      Is it a good interface in Chinese?

      Is it good in Chinese? I can't tell.

      Programming from the Web and using browser script tools is very challenging - it's the computing equivalent of keyhole surgery. And then when you're finished it does not work in the Opera browser and I blame you and hate you, probably unfairly.

      The criticism here of programmers in general is obviously trolling, but I will rise to the bait anyway and invite you, if you think programs are so unimportant, to stop using them on your own computer for a day and just appreciate the graphic design. No, not a day. Make it a year.

  24. Shane 8
    Jobs Halo

    msn in china

    QQ > MSN imo.

  25. Anonymous Coward

    Sad Irony

    I worked for a set of luxury goods brands a while ago. On the one hand the management consultants were busily outsourcing to superficially cheaper offshore locations - closing their traditional european manufacturing bases to save a few euro so that they could present favourable financials to the shareholders.

    At the same time they were faced with huge problems from the market becoming flooded with counterfeit immitations of their branded goods. The outsourced supplier had decided to manufacture way more than the original production quota selling the surplus unofficially or in some cases had actually sold on the design / manufacturing pattern to other companies who would then busily manufacture exact replica's of the branded suppliers goods selling them at a fraction of the cost.

    It makes me really angry that a generation of business people have systematically destroyed good companies / teams through offshoring without a second thought to the long term economic consequences.

    1. fajensen

      Irony? - Not really!


      .... through offshoring without a second thought to the long term economic consequences ....


      I think the business people have given a lot of though on the *important* long term economic consequences: The Bonus, The Stock Options, The Golden Parachute to a Cushier Job - i.o.w. they dont give a shite about what happens to anything or anyone else as long as they get their entitlements!!

      .... and should they overreach, our government is there to Help!

  26. Anonymous Coward

    @Dirk Vandenheuvel

    And I find it funny how readily programmers fail at something as basic as HTML. Let alone building an interesting, usable website.

    Try writing code that has to be constantly changed (sometimes within minutes) whilst remaining live and usable enough that punters can still throw money at your business.

    Can't do it can you? Any old gimbat can write a few C/.NET/Java/Whatever functions or classes in isolation that draw heavily on someone else's libraries, take several years between minor releases and still don't work properly in the one environment they were designed for.


    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      That's the difference between programmers and developers - developers need to be able to program whilst remaining creative and flexible, programmers, by and large, could be replaced by robots (designed and developed by designers and developers of course) and no-one would be any the wiser.

      I've yet to see a good website/application built by a "programmer" - just leave them the donkey-work of number crunching, it's far safer that way.

  27. JaitcH
    Gates Horns

    Not again! Got to love these hypocrites

    Microsoft piously preaches the ills of copying yet it has repeatedly done just that, paying off those I.P. owners who had the guts to take them to court.

    Microsoft also pinches names, like the name Internet Explorer.

    Still, their knock-off did have a better range of menu colours and they spent a little more time on their graphics.

    Since it's Microsoft, and Chinese oriented, what else are we to expect?

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