Microsoft Ignores Allegations of Theft

Posted on June 1, 2020 by Paul Thurrott in Windows 10 with 33 Comments

Last week, Keivan Beigi explained how Microsoft stole his package manager after offering him a bogus job. Now, Microsoft has responded.

And that response is beyond inadequate.

“We talked with Keivan last summer about potential opportunities to work together to deliver the Windows Package Manager,” Microsoft’s Andrew Clinick—yes, that Andrew—explains in a post about the “learning” he and his employer have experienced in the wake of this disaster. “During those conversations [sic] we were impressed with Keivan’s insights into the package management world on Windows and with his desire for there to be a great package management experience on Windows.”

And then goes on to not ever discuss the central complaint: That he and Microsoft offered Beigi a job overseeing Beigi’s appget as the new Windows Package Manager before ghosting him for six months and then releasing a near clone of it instead. He notes, instead, that Microsoft will be open-sourcing its WinGet service code on GitHub. As if that was the concern. As if posting something publicly makes the theft OK.

The closest Clinick gets to apologizing is in noting that maybe he didn’t give Beigi enough credit for inspiring WinGet in the original announcement. This snub was mentioned in Beigi’s original complaint but, again, it was not the major concern.

“Our goal is to provide a great product to our customers and community where everyone can contribute and receive recognition,” Clinick writes. “The last thing that we want to do is alienate anyone in the process. That is why we are building it on GitHub in the open where everyone can contribute. Over the past couple of days we’ve listened and learned from our community and clearly we did not live up to this goal. More specifically, we failed to live up to this with Keivan and AppGet. This was the last thing that we wanted.”

I’m sorry, but this is unacceptable. Clinick talks around the real problem rather than addressing it head-on and he in no way apologizes for how he and Microsoft treated Beigi.

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Comments (37)

37 responses to “Microsoft Ignores Allegations of Theft”

  1. Avatar

    madthinus

    If you thought the actions surrounding winget was terrible, please read this whole post, because it is a massive F YOU post by this tool!


    I hope there is more push back from this, this is just not cool!

  2. Avatar

    nwenthusiast

    There's a disconnect somewhere in this situation. A Program Manager job is not a software coding job. If someone is hired as a coder, theeir title is Software Engineer. Microsoft does not usually hire a person who really knows how to write software code as a Proggram Manager.

  3. Avatar

    edtittel

    The sentence "As if that’s was the concern." should either be "As if that's what was the concern." or "As if that were the concern." HTH,

    --Ed--

  4. Avatar

    faustxd9

    While I understand the frustration, didn't someone in the comments to the first article do a review and determine that only the structure is "similar" but it is not a direct copy other than what would be required for any package manager? Ghosting seems wrong but for a large company it is almost a bureaucratic inevitability (speaking only from my personal experience and not with MS).

    • Avatar

      mrbrianhinton

      In reply to faustxd9:

      Yeah. I personally think people are blowing this out of proportion. It's not like they copied, and pasted his code. It's a completely different language, and I don't agree with it being trivial to translate concepts from one language to another. It's not that simple. They were inspired by AppGet. They wanted to hire Keivan, and apparently something kept them from hiring him. I'd wager there is a reason for that?

      • Avatar

        Paul Thurrott

        No one is blowing this out of proportion. This is not about Microsoft stealing his code. It's about Microsoft leading him on and then ghosting him for six months. Instead of just assuming that Microsoft did no wrong, let's just look at what we know and be objective. Objectively speaking, Microsoft behaved unethically. At the very least.
  5. Avatar

    Cdorf

    Its another shoot themselves in the foot scenario. Only this time I think they took their whole foot off. They need to hire him, give him the credit and make it right

  6. Avatar

    txag

    Microsoft has another problem concerning using somebody else's work.

  7. Avatar

    illuminated

    This is the soap opera out of thin air. Package managers were available on linux for decades so there is nothing new. The biggest mistake Microsoft made was the contact with winget guy. They only got only bad publicity from him. Stupid management move that could be avoided by a single engineer spending couple of days looking at the source code.

    • Avatar

      Paul Thurrott

      It's not a soap opera and it's not out of thin air. Do we really need to be strung along by a potential employer who quietly steals your work before we understand why this is unethical and bad? Just have empathy and understanding. It's not that hard.
      • Avatar

        miamimauler

        In reply to paul-thurrott:

        Hi Paul, just a heads up.


        MS gave credit on May 30 in the article "winget install learning" on devblogs.microsoft.com and showed remorse over the incident.

        I'm not excusing MS's actions, just aknowedging they have accepted they need to do better in the future.

      • Avatar

        grsdev

        In reply to paul-thurrott:

        How is this unethical!? What's unethical is a guy who opens sources his code then tries to harass another who was inspired by it or even forked it for that matter.


        Your argument is anti open source software. Are you sure you want to make this argument?

        • Avatar

          Paul Thurrott

          My argument is about a gigantic corporation stealing from an individual after stringing him along for six months with a bogus job offer. That IS unethical. It's not hard to understand.
  8. Avatar

    bogdan

    Correct me if I am wrong, but... If you create an open source project (even using reverse engineering), how is it theft? Don't opens source supporters call it "forking"? You can fork and change, and improve. As long as you provide the source code, you are kosher. And calling this a theft? It is more likely a subject for attorneys to resolve with possible defamation at stake.

  9. Avatar

    wright_is

    Their reply only makes the situation more murky. Their solution uses a different technology, but does essentially the same thing. The same thing that Linux has been doing for decades, the same thing as several other "ports" of this technology to Windows, the same as Docker and Chocolatey and other tools.

    That they were in talks with the guy makes it look suspect at first glance and his side of the story is pretty damning and Microsoft's "reply" is no reply at all, it doesn't really cover any of the issues raised.

  10. Avatar

    roncerr

    Why "sic"? Is there something wrong with "conversations"?

  11. Avatar

    PanamaVet

    “Our goal is to provide a great product to our customers and community where everyone can contribute and receive recognition,” - You left out the part about not mistreating anyone in the process.


    Keivan does not have the knowledge to help Microsoft provide a great product to our customers. - Microsoft contacted Keivan and took his intellectual property. Microsoft planted the idea that he would be compensated.


    Microsoft could not afford to hire Keivan Beigi. - Crickets chirping. What was that goal again?


    “The last thing that we want to do is alienate anyone in the process." - Well, we know Microsoft did not want to get caught doing what they orchestrated.


    Now they have yet another PR disaster on their hands.




    • Avatar

      igor engelen

      How about this one : "Over the past couple of days we’ve listened and learned from our community and clearly we did not live up to this goal."

      I'm sorry but if you really need your community for that you still belong in elementary school.




  12. Avatar

    sherlockholmes

    Yeah, as I said, going back to old times it looks like.

  13. Avatar

    donaldhall3

    There's the MSFT I remember after working there for 13 years.

  14. Avatar

    vernonlvincent

    Wow - it really looks like a sanitized response. It's as bland and uninformative to the accusation as it can get. Paul is right - this response is entirely inadequate - and while the whole "we failing to live up to" part is nice, it's doesn't go nearly far enough,.


    I read somewhere that the elements of a good apology have to include the following:

    1) An acknowledgement of what the offending party did wrong.

    2) Acknowledgement of the impact the "wrong" had on the injured party

    3) What the offending party will do, if anything can be done, to provide a restitution (for whatever value that word has) to the injured party.

    4) Acknowledgement of what the offending party is going to do to prevent the "wrong" from occurring in the future.

    5) Sincerity.


    Microsoft acknowledge what they failed to do, but there's no real acknowledgement of what they actually did - and nothing about how it impacted Keivin, how they can (if it's possible) to provide him restitution, or what steps they will take to see this doesn't occur again.


    I think they are sincere, but sincerity alone is not enough by far.

  15. Avatar

    lvthunder

    It's not stealing if the license says you can do it. That's the whole point of open source projects. To build on one another. From what I understand the two projects are written in different languages. So it's not like there was a copy and paste here.


    As for the process of them trying or not trying to hire this person I'm guessing the lawyers got involved and told Andrew not to say anything about that.

  16. Avatar

    dave.erwin

    Regardless of what happens, whether he is at Microsoft or somewhere else Andrew Clinick has ruined his reputation. Who would ever believe anything he says?

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