Microsoft appears to have stolen most of the product of a somewhat small microblogging or "micromessaging" startup called Plurk. I use Plurk: it's in a little widget in the sidebar. I also have it gated to Twitter. It's free. Microsoft wanted to start a competing service in China called "Juku," so they helped themselves to most of Plurk's work. Maybe that's how they think open source is supposed to work. :(
Or maybe M$ was in a rush to get their Juku beta -- currently shut down and described as "temporarily not available" -- out the door while the Chinese government helps Microsoft by blocking Plurk? What a wonderful combination of unfettered capitalism and totalitarian communism. I guess the quasi-corporate overlords tried to establish plausible deniability by using their Chinese subsidiary to hire a contracting firm and then blaming the contractor. And doing it in a country where international legal reach is limited is another master stroke.
Rantz may say it better than me:
... Like many grand things that rock, it has – unfortunately – been ripped off. Not just by any company – but by Microsoft China. A big corporation ripping off a young startup that is doing amazing work. Surely Microsoft has the resources to do their own work? One would think so – but one would be wrong... [excerpt by permission; full article behind link].
On the one hand, I guess M$ could solve all this by exercising more capitalism and buying up Plurk with their scads of cash. On the other hand, I don't know if I'd want that to happen. Plurk, for their part, does have their own thoughts on the matter. But I bet this whole thing disappears pretty quickly, one way or the other. For Plurk, I hope that disappearance goes as well as it can for them.