Great tools are hard to find. Great free tools are even harder and when you do find them, the financial, legal or support situation surrounding them is often neglected, discarded or overseen. I'm sorry to see CoreConfigurator, the great free tool to configure Server Core installations of Windows Server 2008 meet this same faith.
Guy Teverovsky explained today why he had to pull the download for CoreConfigurator roughly seven weeks ago: (quoting)
As some of you have noticed, I have removed the recent posts about CoreConfigurator and the download of the tool is not working anymore. This is not a temporary hiccup and the reason I have not put a clarification about what is going on is that there were some things going on behind the scenes. The point is that I developed the tool at my spare time, but the contract with my employer at the time of developing the tool stated that anything I develop (even at my spare time) belongs to my employer.
The bottom line is that the company I worked for has asked me to remove the tool from the web. I will not be developing the tool anymore and can not support it. I have asked about the future of the tool and there is a good chance that it will be re-branded under my former employer logo and will be released to public (not sure whether as shareware or something you pay for). The moment I have more details I will make sure to post an update about CoreConfigurator whereabouts.
The future of CoreConfigurator at this moment seems unclear, but Guy hints his former employer might be releasing it under their flag. No word on releasing it as freeware though, which means it might be the end of CoreConfigurator as we know it.
A while back I posted on how I thought Guy could improve CoreConfigurator to make the tool more useful and usable. It seems this might now be a free advice to the new people working (and possible benefiting in the future) from the new CoreConfigurator.
I doubt a large (Israeli) corporation will have the same modest attitude towards the Microsoft community, the same drive and enthusiasm to create great free tools (like ADRestore.Net, numerous Active Directory scripts and Group Policy Administrative Templates), set high standards for quality, communicate in an open and straightforward manner on a blog, and the same selflessness as a Microsoft MVP.
A large corporation might be able to offer enterprise-class support on a tool, but everyone knows support costs money…
HyperVoria: CoreConfigurator Tool discontinued
LinkedIn: Guy Teverovsky
I think that this is somehow stupid and very short-sighted to make something like this for this company. They will not make a lot of money from this tool but they will get some bad publicity, at least among the IT Pros who are using this tool .. so next time maybe some sys admin will see people from this company approaching his environment and will connect the facts.
Sad to see it happening with the loose for community .. however I hope that community will fill this gap shortly :).
I think this ought to be a wake-up call to all reading this to review your employment contracts, moonlighting agreements, etc.
If you are someone that wants to be able to 'give back' to the tech community at large, either with tools, open-source stuff, or whatever, you need to make sure that your agreements with your employer don't preclude your being able to do that. Heck depending on how you interpret some agreements, even IP content like some of the great 'how to do xxx' we see here and on other blogs could be considered to belong to the employer.
I personally would not sign any agreement with any employer that said 'anything you create is ours'.. If it's done on my own time, with my own personal resources, and does not compete or conflict with my employer, then it should belong to me, not them.
I wonder if you could ever truly be able to do anything without resources from your employer though…
Your own time
In this modern age people 'work to live' instead of 'live to work'. It created the notion of 'own time' or private time. Most of us don't work shifts of 16 hours per day anymore. Some employers still believe this 19th century situation still exists, which causes situations like this.
Your own gear
IT Professionals are fortunate enough to demand resources from their employers and most employers provide them without hesitation. Cars, laptops, phones, Internet connections at home, 3G Internet connections for the road, courses, conferences and certifications can all be gained and used in your private time.
Microsoft Most Valuable Professionals (MVPs) like Guy spend loads of their private time and resources to help people and share information. The distinction between using resources from your employer and your own resources blurs fast when you do that.
Competing or conflicting with your employer
When bringing information and tools to the Internet with the purpose of sharing and helping you might indirectly compete or conflict with your employer by disrupting the information balance. Suppose 25% of your employers revenue is implementing Vista in huge enterprises and the basis of the Business case for these projects is the power savings these companies can achieve. You might or might not know these business cases but you found out with Windows XP you can create a power scheme that mimics the Windows Vista default power scheme. You post this information to a public blog. This might affect your employer since the potential victims of the information asymmetry might now have an alternative. Even though you found out, tested and typed the information on your own gear…
I guess what you need for this to work is a modern employer that pursues the same goals as you do.
Working for an employer without a large legal department might help.