Developer claims Microsoft "copied" his software with WinGet

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A developer has accused Microsoft of building its newly-launched package manager WinGet on the foundations of his open-source AppGet software without giving due credit.

Launched at Build 2020, the Windows Package Manager, dubbed WinGet, is a set of software tools that help users automate the process of getting software on a machine. Developer Keivan Beigi has explained how the open-source software bears a striking resemblance to his own AppGet software, which he is now planning to shut down.

Microsoft allegedly led him on with the promise of work, with a “high-level manager” first approaching Beigi in July 2019 to thank him for building AppGet, and suggesting ways the company could support his team.

After several email exchanges and a further meeting in August at Microsoft Vancouver, Beigi claims he was left with the impression of “what can Microsoft do to help?”. What followed was the offer of a role within the company, with the two parties concluding that the arrangement would be “very similar to an acqui-hire”.

“Microsoft would hire me, AppGet would come with me, and they would decide if they wanted to rename it something else, or it would become Microsoft AppGet” Beigi explained in a blog post.

“Throughout the whole process, I was very unclear on what my role would be at Microsoft. What would my responsibilities be? Who would I report to? Who/anyone would report to me? I tried clearing some of these answers throughout those slow conversations but never got a clear answer.”

Following another few months of slow email conversations, he was told the process would take a very long time, with an alternative being to hire him with a “bonus” and then working to migrate the code ownership after the fact.

He flew to Seattle in early December for a full day of meetings and interviews, including a conversation about options on how to migrate AppGet’s process and infrastructure to be able to handle Microsoft’s at scale.

After flying back to Vancouver, the developer didn’t hear anything back from anyone at Microsoft for six months, until the company reached out with a heads up about WinGet’s launch at Build 2020.

“I waited until the next day to see what this new package manager was going to be like,” he continued. “When I finally saw the announcement and the GitHub repositories, I was shocked? Upset? I wasn’t even sure what I was looking at.

“When I showed it to my wife, the first thing she said was, “They Called it WinGet? are you serious!?” I didn’t even have to explain to her how the core mechanics, terminology, the manifest format and structure, even the package repository’s folder structure, are very inspired by AppGet.”

Although AppGet is open-source, Beigi says the fact Microsoft “copied” him wasn’t why he was upset, rather it was that no credit was given. The fact WinGet is based on AppGet, he added, served as “validation of how sound my idea was”.

IT Pro approach Microsoft for comment.

Keumars Afifi-Sabet

Keumars Afifi-Sabet is a writer and editor that specialises in public sector, cyber security, and cloud computing. He first joined ITPro as a staff writer in April 2018 and eventually became its Features Editor. Although a regular contributor to other tech sites in the past, these days you will find Keumars on LiveScience, where he runs its Technology section.