back to article Embrace and kill? AppGet dev claims Microsoft reeled him in with talk of help and a job – then released remarkably similar package manager

Keivan Beigi, developer of AppGet, has described how Microsoft nearly hired him to work on the open-source Windows package manager as an official feature, then went quiet for six months before announcing WinGet, which Beigi says is "very inspired by AppGet". Microsoft unveiled WinGet at its Build virtual event earlier this …

  1. Adair Silver badge

    New leopard...

    ...old spots.

    1. Soruk

      Re: New leopard...

      This sounds like something out of that old film, Antitrust.

      1. Gonzo wizard Bronze badge

        Re: New leopard...

        Haha I thought of Apple both when reading the article and in seeing your subject line... Apple are also pretty notorious for this kind of practice. Bottom line, I'd be very wary about getting into this kind of discussion when a company has a reputation...

  2. Greybearded old scrote
    Devil

    Microsoft jus' gonna be Microsoft

    That was a common habit of theirs in the '90s. Did anybody think the leopard had changed its shorts?

    1. Blackjack Silver badge

      Re: Microsoft jus' gonna be Microsoft

      In the eighties too, remember:

      https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/OS/2

      Heck Apple did stuff like this do.

      Ever watched Pirates of Silicon Valley?

      Gates: Get real, will you? You and I are both like guys that had this rich neighbor - Xerox - that left the door open all the time. And you go sneaking in to steal the TV set. Only when you get there, you realize that I got there first. I GOT THE LOOT, STEVE! And you're yelling? That's not fair? "I wanted to try to steal it first." You're too late.

      1. Jacmac

        Re: Microsoft jus' gonna be Microsoft

        Good movie, but I still think Triumph of the Nerds is the best thing anyone can watch to see the true history of '75-'95. It's great insight into both Gates and Jobs; and a lot of other important figures of the time like Kildall and the people running the IBM PC development.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Microsoft jus' gonna be Microsoft

          From the perspective of a nerd who lived and worked in Palo Alto in that era, and knew most of the players depicted, "Triumph of the Nerds" had so many errors it was ... err ... cringe worthy.

    2. DMik

      Re: Microsoft jus' gonna be Microsoft

      If you want to hear a first hand account, talk to any Powerbuilder developer about how Microsoft "helped" them in the 90s.

      For all intents and purposes, Microsoft is a monopoly and has acted like one for the last 30 years.

      Oracle has also been consuming software companies at an alarming rate.

    3. rcxb Silver badge

      Re: Microsoft jus' gonna be Microsoft

      A more modern example would be Citrix's MultiWin/MetaFrame, which became RDP:

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Remote_Desktop_Protocol#Version_4.0

    4. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Meh

      Re: Microsoft jus' gonna be Microsoft

      "That was a common habit of theirs in the '90s."

      Ack. back in the 90's I wrote a desktop trash-can application for Win 3.x. When '95 released, it had a similar trashcan built-in, that operated in a manner very similar to mine. There were other trash cans, though, each probably operating in a similar way. Mine used a directory to move all of the files into before emptying so you could un-delete them. I'm sure others did the same. You could also change icons with mine [the default was a toilet, which had green water if something was in it, blue otherwise].

      But this is the world of competition in software, so it's no surprise, really. MS loves to employ "N.I.H." policies and "invent their own" instead of using someone else's thing, and will no doubt continue to "invent their own", even if they occasionally get sued for it [like dblspace/drvspace vs Stacker].

      1. Blackjack Silver badge

        Re: Microsoft jus' gonna be Microsoft

        The problem in this case is that it would have been outright theft if it wasn't an Open Source App.

  3. Teiwaz Silver badge

    I know I've said this before

    is at odds with Microsoft's relatively newfound love for open source.

    Microsoft DO NOT 'love' Open Source.

    They merely take advantage. Wherever, Whenever.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I know I've said this before

      Microsoft loves Open Source.

      If is free code they can use, and of much higher quality what they can get their own 3rd world developers to create.

      1. Kabukiwookie Silver badge

        Re: I know I've said this before

        Why do you think they bought Github for 7.5 billion? Because they don't know how tonrun a git server?

    2. Archtech Silver badge

      Re: I know I've said this before

      "Microsoft DO NOT 'love' Open Source".

      I think they do - much as I love grass-fed beef. If I could get THAT free, I would be a happy man.

  4. Claverhouse Silver badge
    Angel

    Abholos --- The Devourer in the Mist

    ' A grey festering blob of infinite malevolence, described as the lesser brother of Tsathoggua or spawn of Cthulhu, born from his bile and tears'.

    .

    .

    Never change, Abholos, never change.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is news?

    They, as in Microsoft never ever change their modus operandii.

    They are paying lip service to Linux. They'll take it all, and after rebranding it, they'll release the 'Next Gen Windows' with a Linux Kernel (heavily modded naturally).

    You might ask 'what agout the GPL?'

    They'll say... 'we have more lawyers that you FOSStards'.

    The beginning of the end for FOSS I'm afraid other than the BSD holdouts.

  6. Basil II

    Same company just more Indians now.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I've heard that WinGet is little more than wget setup.exe && setup.exe. I can understand why the guy is upset but if that's all AppGet did then you can hardly accuse them of ripping it off when there wasn't that much to rip off in the first place, especially if it was written in a different language. If they were going to rip off some other project, I wish they'd have picked a decent one!

  8. CAPS LOCK Silver badge

    How often does a relationship with Microsoft work out well for the other party?

    Not often.

    1. oiseau Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: How often does a relationship with Microsoft work out well for the other party?

      Not often ever.

      There you go.

      Adjusts a bit more to reality, n'est pas?

      O.

    2. sinsi

      Re: How often does a relationship with Microsoft work out well for the other party?

      Sysinternals?

  9. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    1. Is it sufficiently similar to count as a derivative work and if so have Microsoft complied with the Apache 2 terms?

    2. I hope he'll submit a suitable invoice for consultancy. A really suitable invoice.

  10. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "He says he was approached in July 2019"

    If you are approached by Microsoft, it's just like if you are thanked by Putin.

    Expect the knife in the back any time after that.

    1. Archtech Silver badge

      Re: "He says he was approached in July 2019"

      Off topic and untrue.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    All big guys have similar attitudes

    I worked for a 5 person UK based company in the 1980's when the boss showed our prize product to National Instruments with a view to them purchasing it.

    Everything when quiet and then Lab View came out (at that point a not very good copy!)

    The boss rang up his contact immediately we became aware of this and were told that NI would tie us up in legal costs until we went under, and so what were we going to do about it?

    1. . 3

      Re: All big guys have similar attitudes

      This isn't what became HP VEE? I vaguely recall there were several rivals to Labview around in the early nineties.

    2. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: All big guys have similar attitudes

      That's bad, but it's often hard to combat. Unless a patent or copyright was violated, nothing blocks someone from looking at what you did and trying to copy it. We probably wouldn't want that anyway because the big companies would be able to accuse anything that is at all similar to something they did of having seen their thing, which they're already distressingly happy to do.

      This situation strikes me as similar to recent complaints by developers of open source software that cloud providers have been running their software and making money from doing so without paying them. The issue is clear and it's undesirable, but it's also unsurprising because the license terms of much of that software state quite clearly that people are allowed to do this. If I had looked at AppGet's operation and created a competitor on my own, I would not have violated anything and the author probably wouldn't be very upset with me. If MS had done the same without talking to him, he would have been more annoyed but couldn't prove much. The issue seems like a recruitment and PR fiasco given their talks with him, but it doesn't change the justification of any other actions.

      1. Tom 7 Silver badge

        Re: All big guys have similar attitudes

        The thing is even a patent is of no use if you dont have billions to defend it.

  12. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    Standard Microsoft

    Greybearded old scrote beat me to it saying this, but this is 100% standard behavior of the Microsoft of old. The antitrust trial against them was not because they were at near-100% market share in OS sales, this is legal; it was because of the anticompetitive behaviors they had through the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s. One standard thing they did was imply they would merge or buy out some company due to a specific product, go take a look around, then "change their mind"; a bad clone of that companies product would be out within 6 months.

    Just one example of so many.. seriously, M$ of the 1990s was doing this a few times a year at least... Stac electronics, for one, made Stacker which would compress your disk storage on-the-fly, roughly doubling your storage space. (And most hard drives back then were so slow it was usually speeding up your disk access too). Microsoft got into talks, had someone go around their office and all that, then put out DoubleSpace which was a total infringement on Stack's patents. After they lost a lawsuit to Stacker, they made trivial file format changes to claim they weren't violating their patents (whether they were or not is an open question); this was DriveSpace. This made it clear they'd just keep making enough changes to make sure Stac never got business again, then they bought Stack electronics out for a large amount of money, but less than what they owed them when the lost the patent infringement lawsuit big time (they'd already lost by then, so effectively they had to pay themselves.)

    1. Jacmac

      Re: Standard Microsoft

      I remember this, as I recall, Stac won part and lost part. Microsoft had counter sued them for some infringement, but it was minor. In the end Microsoft agreed to buy a portion of Stac for $40 million and paid out another $40 million in royalties. Stac went through gyrations before eventually selling off what it had left and closing up around 2000-2002. They were based out of Carlsbad not far from where I live, so it was big local news back then. I think the prevalence of hard disk capacities getting large and cheap is ultimately what killed them

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Embrace...

    Extend...

    Extinguish...

    1. P. Lee Silver badge

      Re: Embrace...

      but without the "extend" work.

      1. Kevin Johnston Silver badge

        Re: Embrace...

        I think Extend has now been replace by Embugger

    2. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: Embrace...

      There's another one there 'Envelop'. I know of quite a number of people who have been enveloped by MS - given a job and a post and enough money to keep them from working for someone else. A surprisingly cheap way of reducing the competition.

      1. druck Silver badge

        Re: Embrace...

        The best example of 'Envelop' being the Microsoft Research centre in Cambridge. It's sole purpose being to suck in promising Cambridge graduates and let them play with toys, rather than going on to setting up their own companies producing superior products, which lead to Acorn and many others.

  14. chuckufarley

    The Many Faces of Reputation, "Homesteading the Noosphere" by Eric Steven Raymond

    "There are reasons general to every gift culture why peer repute (prestige) is worth playing for:

    First and most obviously, good reputation among one's peers is a primary reward. We're wired to experience it that way for evolutionary reasons touched on earlier. (Many people learn to redirect their drive for prestige into various sublimations that have no obvious connection to a visible peer group, such as ``honor'', ``ethical integrity'', ``piety'' etc.; this does not change the underlying mechanism.)

    Secondly, prestige is a good way (and in a pure gift economy, the only way) to attract attention and cooperation from others. If one is well known for generosity, intelligence, fair dealing, leadership ability, or other good qualities, it becomes much easier to persuade other people that they will gain by association with you.

    Thirdly, if your gift economy is in contact with or intertwined with an exchange economy or a command hierarchy, your reputation may spill over and earn you higher status there.

    Beyond these general reasons, the peculiar conditions of the hacker culture make prestige even more valuable than it would be in a `real world' gift culture.

    The main `peculiar condition' is that the artifacts one gives away (or, interpreted another way, are the visible sign of one's gift of energy and time) are very complex. Their value is nowhere near as obvious as that of material gifts or exchange-economy money. It is much harder to objectively distinguish a fine gift from a poor one. Accordingly, the success of a giver's bid for status is delicately dependent on the critical judgement of peers.

    Another peculiarity is the relative purity of the open-source culture. Most gift cultures are compromised—either by exchange-economy relationships such as trade in luxury goods, or by command-economy relationships such as family or clan groupings. No significant analogues of these exist in the open-source culture; thus, ways of gaining status other than by peer repute are virtually absent."

    Perhaps it's time Microsoft copied more from FLOSS than just the code.

    Full text here:

    http://www.catb.org/esr/writings/cathedral-bazaar/homesteading/

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The Many Faces of Reputation, "Homesteading the Noosphere" by Eric Steven Raymond

      The entire world converts to a gift culture, taken to the ultimate extreme - "Down and Out In the Magic Kingdom" by Cory Doctorow, a brilliant "social-fy" novel. (Free to download, by the way)

    2. Archtech Silver badge

      Re: The Many Faces of Reputation, "Homesteading the Noosphere" by Eric Steven Raymond

      "First and most obviously, good reputation among one's peers is a primary reward".

      Monopolists don't have - or want - peers. They see them as competitors and do their best to get rid of them.

      1. amanfromMars 1 Silver badge

        In the Beginning ....... was Everything to Play For

        Monopolists don't have - or want - peers. They see them as competitors and do their best to get rid of them .... Archtech

        That's when it all turns bad and wrong for them, Archtech, ....... with them not immediately being recognised and realised as their new improved master commanding controller agents.

        And can you imagine such peers being bested to be got rid? Surely not in any form of available reality?

        A simple radical fundamental change of peer driver thinking from destructive competitive outlook to outfitting with constructive supporting services changes everything everywhere in an instant with or without an accompanying crushing flash market crash.

        And a necessary quantum leap to be made into what one cannot deny may be novel alien territory too.

  15. revenant Silver badge

    "...Microsoft's relatively newfound love for open source"

    'Love' as in the way a fox feels about chickens, I presume.

  16. karlkarl Silver badge

    No-one is to blame. Microsoft (like most large corporations) is not a living thing. It is like a virus. It does not have the ability to feel remorse.

    Just like my past self, I guess the only one to "blame" is the appget developer for attempting to deal with Microsoft. I do wish him the best and hope he receives some sort of compensation. If anything it could look cool on his CV?

    Next time, develop FOSS software for "the good guys"! (Or get payment up front)

    1. oiseau Silver badge
      WTF?

      If anything it could look cool on his CV?

      Cool?

      What?

      That he was one of the hundreds (of hundreds) that have been screwed over by MS in the past 30+ years?

      No, not at all cool.

      The poor chap actually thought he was immune.

      Now he knows better.

      O.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Thank you Register for publishing this sad story. It's exciting for any developer to talk with a large organization about their life's work (so far) with the hope of a job. Not many people get that opportunity. Just remember life is long, and every interaction enlarges your network. Be proud of what you did and move forward.

  18. Dropper
    Devil

    Never Change

    They never change really do they? Since the late 80s they've been doing this - whether it was the hard disk space doubling software, the clones of Norton and PC Tools utilities or whatever else they vacuumed up in their pursuit and destruction of rival software houses.

    Back then there were all kinds of rumours about cloning software, destroying the originator's sales in the process, then waiting them out in lengthy copyright trials which they eventually won by default when the competitor went bankrupt.

    They developed OS2 for IBM, accidentally creating a better product than Windows (it actually had something only the Amiga could lay claim to at the time, pre-emptive multitasking), but if the rumours are to be believed they deliberately sabotaged the product with bad code.

    In the 90s it was Linux, which they assaulted after buying Unix from Novel - then claimed that Linux was just a rip off of their product (acting as if they were somehow responsible for all the development of Sun Microsystems).

    So.. here we are again.

    1. gerryg

      Re: Never Change

      Novell never sold Unix. See if Groklaw is archived somewhere. It was SCO v IBM and SCO were funded by both Microsoft and Sun if my memory serves. Novell also spent years on this and its sunset endgame was to protect Linux. As an aside Microsoft always alleged there were 57(?) unspecified patents that Linux infringed providing a dark cloud over commercial adoption. Unspecified because every time someone specified a patent someone else did a clean room replacement. Andrew Tridgell "Tridge" and NTFS for example.

      1. TVU Silver badge

        Re: Never Change

        "Novell never sold Unix. See if Groklaw is archived somewhere. It was SCO v IBM and SCO were funded by both Microsoft and Sun if my memory serves. Novell also spent years on this and its sunset endgame was to protect Linux. As an aside Microsoft always alleged there were 57(?) unspecified patents that Linux infringed providing a dark cloud over commercial adoption. Unspecified because every time someone specified a patent someone else did a clean room replacement. Andrew Tridgell "Tridge" and NTFS for example."

        That comment is very deeply unfair to the open source-friendly Sun Microsystems (RIP). If anyone wants an accurate summary of what went on in the bad old days then I'd suggest reading Stephen Shankland's online article, "Fact and fiction in the Microsoft-SCO relationship".

  19. Ilsa Loving

    No surprise here

    This is something Microsoft has done multiple times in the past, and will continue to do in the future.

    This is why a I half laugh, half shake my head at all those people that insist "Microsoft has changed! They're better now!". No, they arn't. They're like an abusive ex-boyfriend. They're just as abusive now as they were in the past. All they did was change the behaviour a little bit so it was less obvious.

    Embrace, Extend, Extinguish is alive and well, and anyone that says otherwise is deluded.

  20. RobThBay

    Not surprised

    MS has done that before.

    I remember *years ago* when MS was talking about buying Simply Money. Then all went quiet, the deal was dropped and MS Money appeared.

  21. Aitor 1 Silver badge

    Failed to get job

    So he essentially wrote something they wanted to have, and got an interview.

    The recruiting process determined he was a terribly bad engineer, that is why he had trouble being paid transport costs. Yet the product was good, and done by him alone.

    Obviously their recruiting system is shite.

  22. Convid-19

    A lesson for anyone helping companies like micro$oft ,g00gle and others alike, which have no respect for human life, yes, human life, it's not only about privacy anymore.

  23. Robert D Bank

    you get the same sort of bullshit with 3rd parties scarfing software and ideas out of their clients. They'll resell it as there own either internally to the same client or externally to another. Never any attribution to the originators..oh no.

  24. Snorlax Silver badge

    I’ve never heard of MS doing that before /s

    Sometimes when the good-looking girl in the class comes to talk to you, she just wants you to do her homework...

    Surely no developer is naive enough to go for a chat with Microsoft without bringing along at least six lawyers?

    Although if you need to ask for Azure credit, they know you don’t have the resources to sue them for stealing your ideas.

  25. JassMan

    Time for a law on fairness.

    You write some software, and bigcorp use it and distribute it to millions of others and they can do so for free. Bigcorp writes some software which you wouldn't touch with a bargepole but have to use because some other unenlightened company depends on bigcorps OS, and if you don't pay for the OS, they sue you into penury.

    By all means, the bigcorps should be allowed to charge what they like for code which is not essential for everything else to work, but the basic OS should always be free.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not just Microsoft, and not just IT

    It isn't just microsoft that does this - I know of someone that had a similar problem with Apple relating to a user interface innovation. They were invited in by Apple to discuss it, heard no feedback for a year, then apple added an almost identical application to their OS.

    I also know someone that had it happen with a specific type of electrical switch (that I must admit I don't understand) in the early 70s.

    I have seen many open source applications that take a commercial application and create an almost identical open source version, so it happens the other way too.

    It is how "innovation" works unfortunately - its unpleasant when big businesses do it to small businesses or individuals, but they do it to each other, and small businesses do this to each other all the time too.

  27. newspuppy

    Blue Screen Bandits Strike again.....

    In another brazen heist... The Blue Screen Bandits Strike again, same modus operandi as in previous encounters....

    Why the surprise?

    :(

  28. TeeCee Gold badge

    Hang on...

    So there's an open source product.

    Someone else takes open source product and modifies it to suit.

    They then publish the full source of "their" version.

    Isn't that the way it's supposed to work? None of the licenses seem to support the notion that you have to kiss the original author before you fuck them.

    1. chuckufarley

      Re: Hang on...

      "...Isn't that the way it's supposed to work?..."

      Yes, forking is an allowed and sometime even desired course of action. However, giving credit were credit is due happens to be the corner stone on which the Free Software/Open Source movement was founded. You can trace almost every line of open source code to it's original author this way. You can also see who forked this code, how and what they did in the forking process, and even find out why they thought a fork was needed. See the link I provided in my post way up there ^^ to find out why this is so important.

    2. jake Silver badge

      Re: Hang on...

      It depends. There are several different licenses. The devil is in the details.

      "The nice thing about standards is that there are so many of them to choose from." —Andrew S. Tanenbaum

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2020