November 24, 2004 2:29 PM PST

Microsoft proposes piracy amnesty

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Microsoft has announced what it hopes will be a new attack on piracy. The company has decided to give away software to those who bought machines with fake copies pre-installed.

Microsoft will be offering anyone who's "unsure" about whether they've got dodgy software the chance to have it checked out by Microsoft, with the promise that if it does turn out to be counterfeit, they'll replace it.

The deal only covers Windows XP, and only five copies per person can be swapped. It's all free, besides the initial postage and packing. The offer only applies to pre-installed home or professional Windows XP bought before Nov. 1.

Alex Hilton, Microsoft's license compliance manager, said the bulk of piracy seen by Microsoft was in the OEM (original equipment manufacturer) sector.

"Some examples we're seeing from the Far East and Eastern Europe...are very high quality," Hilton said, and are aimed at the high-end user. "That's the sector we're trying to address."

Hilton also said anyone found with the pirate program won't suffer legal repercussions--but that their suppliers might. "Our goal is not to prosecute the individual; our goal is to get to the source," he said, adding that a decision on prosecution would be made on a case-by-case basis.

While Microsoft is hoping to get some idea of the extent of piracy in the U.K. with the program, it seems that consumers might be even more interested.

When the Redmond, Wash.-based company launched its Windows Genuine Advantage program to let its customers check whether they'd bought genuine software, it thought only 20,000 people would take it up on its offer. After a month, more than 800,000 had.

To get a replacement copy of Windows XP, PC users will need to send off their receipt and complete a witness statement, revealing where they bought their knock-off software.

About 29 percent of software applications in use in the United Kingdom are thought to be pirated, according to analyst group IDC.

Jo Best of Silicon.com reported from London.

25 comments

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Ok, but..
I understand that they want to protect their garbage fill. They worked hard borrowing and stealing from others to get where they are. Even a legitimate software company doesn't like piracy.

The problem I have, is that if MS put 1/10 of the effort fighting piracy into create stable, secure products that aren't bloated, then maybe they would have at least a smidgen of respect from their peers and customers.
Posted by (242 comments )
Reply Link Flag
... and if only...
IBM put in as much work on their Tivoli and Enterprise management products so they work bug-free... or....
CA's Unicenter product can match their gift of marketing...

So many if onlys - and not enough living in reality.

In as much as it is ideal to have bug-free software, it is also unrealistic. Bugs are part of software - it's just a matter of getting it down to an "acceptable" level that doesn't interfere with its usage.

Many people compare Apple's stability with Window's instability. But they also fail to account for:
1) The array of software one platform runs over the other.
2) The array of hardware one platform supports over the other.
3) The prevalence one platform is used over the other.

If Apple still has bugs on OS-X DESPITE the fact that their level of supported hardware is a very limited one, imagine how much harder it is to make it all work in Windows! It's a minor miracle as it is that it even works.

This doesn't mean that MS is off the hook for buggy products - it just means that although they ought to be commended for pulling off a difficult feat, they still have A LOT of of work ahead of them.

Like you, MS also has to make money. I beleive that the best strategy to fighting piracy is to make the OS more affordable. $100 for a stripped down consumer version is way too expensive.



In as much I agree with you, software bugs are just a part of life with computing. It is merely a question of how small and insignificant we can make them.
Posted by Tex Murphy PI (165 comments )
Link Flag
Give it up
Microsoft is giving away FREE software to people who could be arrested for posession of stolen materials. Free copies of Windows!

And the only thing you can focus on, is yet one more opportunity to express your clearly biased position against Microsoft. You didn't even comment on the story or the actions announced.
Posted by David Arbogast (1709 comments )
Link Flag
Yeah but
They do have a smidgen of respect and more from some of their peers and customers. Just Me, your opinion is just your opinion. It is shared by many people and that's fine but many people do have opposite views and that's their perogative.
If MS software is so bad why are people pirating it at all? Why don't they just run a free linux distro and not have to worry about running illegal software at all? If people aren't sure they want Windows and then buy a $9 copy and then delete I've no problem with that but the numbers of people that are applying for the amnesty are huge according to this article. There are 800,000 people that have a Windows product that they think is dodgy. Rather than install an alternative OS they're applying for the amnesty. Why stay with an OS that some people consider so bad? Are they stupid? Is there no alternative OS? Or is it just that they like it? How could they like it?
BTW: I'm a Windows admin (I like it.). I also use some Linux, some Solaris and a tiny bit of OS X in work. I'm not a Windows evangalist and I don't hate every other OS, I just prefer Windows. Don't kill me.
Posted by (79 comments )
Link Flag
I have legit, but use hacked codes.
I have legit WinXP licenses with the PC's purchased (Gateway, Compaq, IBM). But I wipe them out and use hacked licenses. I DON'T like sending info to MicroShaft. And XP does that AUTOMATICALLY. Ever noticed your Windows (not Internet, Windows) Explorer wants to log out onto the Internet? Not spyware, sure, like Hitler was not bad.
Posted by (75 comments )
Reply Link Flag
But
Whenever I install XP Pro it asks me would I like to send my details to Microsoft. I always say skip and it does. Doesn't complain and doesn't contact Microsoft. You may be running a different version than me and it may do that on yours but there are versions that don't dial home. It's none of Microsofts business what I have on my PC (unless it's an illegal copy I suppose) and if they want my information they can pay me for it.
Look forward to the day where it's written into the license agreement that nobody reads so that by opening the packet you're agreeing to let the software companies (not just MS) know whatever they want about your PC.
Posted by (79 comments )
Link Flag
Twit
Again. Off topic. Personal issues. Mental baggage. Than coached in fake "gentleman-ism".

What different versions??? Windows XP Home or Pro has only ONE version each (provided you did the updates, which I'm assuming you would - not assuming you're a total idiot here). And the "proof" of Windows Explorer going out - simple, TURN ON YOUR FIREWALL. McAfee or Norton will do. Set it to initially block everything and than request your permission for temporary or permanent egress.

Pretending to know OS's and yet doesn't know the simple basics of firewalls. You're right. At first I had thought you were Microshaft stoogie. Only they could lie like that. But than you say you work in a bank. Let me guess, MIS. My apologies for doubting you. MIS would definitely be too dense to know about firewalls. You're NOT a stooge.
Posted by (75 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Sorry.
Sorry. I hit reply to story instead of reply to your comment "Sorry".

Sorry. Most wretched of me to have commented about your condition. I wasn't aware you are of the condition MIS; and it has taken me aback a bit. I had thought you were just spouting Microshaft company idiocy because you were associated with Microshaft. I wasn't aware that you simply didn't know what you were talking about at all. Most terribly sorry. Had I known, I would have just ignored your babblings.
Posted by (75 comments )
Link Flag
 

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