We’ve gotten a response out of Microsoft on the Plurk debacle, and it looks like the company’s been caught with its pants down. As you may remember from our post earlier this afternoon, the Canadian microblogging service accused Microsoft of outright intellectual property theft, saying as much as 80% of the Juku microblogging service it had launched in China was based off of Plurk.
Microsoft has decided to take down Juku while it performs a full investigation of the incident. The company said that when Plurk first posted its accusations, it was the middle of the night in China which made it impossible for work to begin until Microsoft China employees reported back in for work, which they would have right around suppertime here on the East Coast of the US.
The similarities are certainly there, starting with the user interface. What’s even more surprising is the whole incident was allowed to happen in the first place by the biggest software company in the world. Now it must rush to prevent what certainly could become a public relations nightmare.
“Our MSN China joint venture contracted with an independent vendor to create a feature called MSN Juku that allowed MSN users to find friends via microblogging and online games,” Microsoft said in a statement. “This MSN Juku feature was made available to MSN China users in November and is still in beta.”
It does seem like a little bit of passing the buck, but still Redmond shares some culpability in not knowing its competitors well enough to have an eye out for possible issues. No matter how this ends, as Michael Arrington put it on TechCrunch, “this is the best thing to happen to Plurk, ever.”
You got that right.