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Microsoft pulls China blog site amid code-theft charges

The software maker says it is still investigating allegations that MSN China's Juku microblogging site improperly uses code from a rival service.

Microsoft said late Monday that is suspending access to an MSN China microblogging site amid allegations the service is based on code swiped from a rival.

Canadian start-up Plurk lashed out at Microsoft earlier on Monday, saying that 80 percent of the code for Juku appeared to be lifted directly from its service.

Microsoft reiterated late Monday that it is investigating the matter but issued a statement saying it was pulling down the Juku feature while it looks into things.

"Earlier today, questions arose over a feature developed by a third-party vendor for our MSN China joint venture," Microsoft said in a statement. "Because questions have been raised about the code base comprising the service, MSN China will be suspending access to the Juku beta feature temporarily while we investigate the matter fully."

Microsoft added that the investigation was slowed by the fact that when questions were first raised it was the middle of the night in China.

"Now that the day has begun in China, our teams are working hard to track down the information," Microsoft said.

The company also confirmed what a source previously told CNET, namely that Microsoft's MSN China joint venture "contracted with an independent vendor" to create the MSN Juku feature, which debuted last month and is still in beta.

Earlier on Monday, Microsoft said it was investigating the issue.

For its part, Plurk said it is still trying to decide how to handle things.

"We're not entirely sure but we are exploring our options," Plurk said in its blog posting. "We have been seeking advice from respected colleagues, responding to press inquiries and gathering facts on the timeline of events and parties involved here to understand why and how this took place."

It's the second time in recent weeks that Microsoft has been accused of lifting other's work in its products. Last month, the company was forced to pull down a tool for loading Windows 7 onto Netbooks after allegations that the product improperly included open-source code. Microsoft later apologized and last week re-released the tool under the GPL open-source license. Microsoft also blamed a third-party vendor in that case.

Plurk accuses Microsoft China of ripping off its design and code to create its Juku microblogging service. Plurk