Listen to the podcast: Winternals is Assimilated.

Hi everyone, this is Leo Notenboom with news, commentary and answers to some of the many questions I get at

News arrived this week that Winternals Software, creators of the extremely popular free utilities site, has been purchased by Microsoft.

Now, I love Microsoft – they were very good to me, and while I may not always agree with what they do, I kinda get how or why they come to do it.

But my gut reaction when I read the news that SysInternals was now Microsoft property was a quiet “Oh No!”

Winternals is known for their deep expertise in Windows. Indeed, the former owners, now Microsoft employees, Mark Russinovich and Bryce Cogswell, may well know more about Windows than many of the engineers that work on it every day. Winternals sells very powerful management and recovery tools, but is perhaps best known for the collection of free utilities.

And, well, free utilities just isn’t what Microsoft is about, now, is it?

So I see several possibilities:

  • Things might continue as are. The utilities will continue to be free, updated regularly, and we’ll never notice the change. Seems the least likely outcome to me.
  • The utilities could disappear. This also seems pretty unlikely.
  • The utilities could move to the Microsoft website, and require Windows Genuine Advantage validation prior to download. Yuck!
  • The utilities might get incorporated into the Windows SDK or other Microsoft product – which is great, unless that’s the only way to get them. Real people don’t want the SDK, and real people definitely benefit from the SysInternals free utilities.
  • The utilities might no longer be free. What a shame that would be, not to mention a PR nightmare.

I hope Microsoft understands the tremendous asset that they’ve just acquired. Fumbling the ball here could do a lot of damage. On the other hand, it’s also a tremendous opportunity to show support for Microsoft users by continuing to improve and freely distribute these important tools.

In fact, I have two words for Microsoft that, if they listen, would allow them to make a statement of support that no one expects and everyone would love:

Open Source

Hey, I can dream!

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