PIRACY costs Microsoft and its resellers around the world millions of dollars in lost revenue and the software giant has stepped up efforts to fight back.
On February 7 the company is expanding its Windows Genuine Advantage antipiracy programme, which has been in a pilot phase since September.
Quoting a study conducted by IDC for the Business Software Alliance, the vendor says that 23% of PC users in New Zealand use software that is not genuine, representing a loss to the local economy of around $30 million a year.
According to Microsoft New Zealand partner group manager Steve Haddock, the impact of piracy to the channel is significant as Microsoft has calculated that its channel partners earn $7 for every dollar it earns in New Zealand.
“So for every dollar Microsoft loses to piracy our channel partners lose seven,” he says.
Haddock says partners are eager for Microsoft to fight piracy and prosecute perpetrators, and can help in the battle by reporting suspected piracy to the company and by only buying through licensed Microsoft distributors.
“If you are not buying from an authorised distributor you are putting yourself and your clients at risk - if a deal sounds too good to be true, then it must be too good to be true.”
Genuine Advantage checks the authenticity
of a user’s software to help consumers and businesses ensure that they are protected from an inferior computing experience, viruses and other vulnerabilities that can result from counterfeit software.
The scheme was introduced as an optional pilot programme to users of English-language versions of Windows in September 2004 and attracted five million voluntary users around the world.
Under the expanded programme 20 new language versions of Windows XP will be added to the opt-in programme on the Microsoft Download Centre portal and most Windows content on the site will be included.
The programme will also include new software incentives, valued at more than NZ$630, such as Microsoft Photo Story 3 for Windows, Winter Fun Pack 2004, a six-month trial of Office OneNote 2003 and a 50% discount on hosted Windows SharePoint services, Microsoft List Builder service and MSN Games by Zone.com.
In the second half of 2005, participation in Windows Genuine Advantage will be required before visitors can access content on the Download Centre and Windows Update portals.
Meanwhile, Microsoft is also working with partners to change how some Certificates of Authenticity are matched during activation, as a significant number of certificates are stolen each year and resold as new. This will help protect the investment of Microsoft’s partners in Windows, says Haddock.