February 16, 2007 8:56 AM PST

Russia hits out at Microsoft licensing

The Russian government has hit out at Microsoft, claiming the software giant's overly strict and costly licensing regime is to blame for the high rates of consumer piracy in the country.

Antipiracy group the Business Software Alliance lists Russia as one of the top 10 worst offending countries for counterfeit software. Deputy Russian IT minister Dmitry Milovantsev admitted in a briefing in Moscow last week software piracy is a "very serious problem" for the country.

He said the low average income of people in Russia is one of the factors in the relatively widespread use of cheaper pirated copies of software. But he also laid some of the blame on the behavior of the large software vendors for their restrictive and expensive licensing policies.

In particular he singled out Microsoft for its policy of not allowing partners to sell computers without copies of Windows pre-installed in Russia.

"If you want to install Linux you have to erase Microsoft, and that increases the cost of each computer by $50. (With) one that already has Windows installed on it, and you want to use open source, you have to install the operating system," he said.

Milovantsev said law enforcement efforts should be focused not on the individuals caught using fake software but the criminals manufacturing it.

"We are constantly fighting against unlicensed use of software, but we need to fight not with the consumers but those who develop the software," he said.

With Russia stepping up its bid to compete in the international IT outsourcing market and attract business to the country, Milovantsev maintained it has a "very strict and solid" position when it comes to industrial intellectual property rights.

The problem of software piracy in Russia has been highlighted in recent weeks by the case of a teacher accused of using unlicensed copies of Microsoft Windows and Office software on 12 classroom PCs.

The case attracted the attention of current Russian President Vladimir Putin and former leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who called for the charges to be dropped. This week, the Russian courts dismissed the prosecution calls for the teacher to be fined and rejected the case as "trivial."

Andy McCue of Silicon.com reported from London.

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About time for worldwide antitrust action
Wednesday, March 10, 2004
A plea for relief from Microsoft's escalating anti-competitive tactics.
<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://itheresies.blogspot.com/2004_03_01_archive.html" target="_newWindow">http://itheresies.blogspot.com/2004_03_01_archive.html</a>
[i]An open letter to antitrust, competition, consumer and trade practice monitoring agency officials worldwide.[/i]

Since the above letter was published the only truly pro-competitive action Microsoft has taken has been to allow some third party vendors to sell some of Microsoft's Multimedia Codecs for use on Linux.
Posted by David Mohring (22 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Well..., too bad this teacher couldn't have lived in the U.S. where Microsoft could summarily sue her, her school, her lineage, her descendants, her family and her friends for every shred of freedom and possessions for which they own. Hmmm. Seriously, there is an very basic point to this story - about $M$'s focus. It is frustrating to spend approx $250 - $500 just for an OS, nevermind other additional apps; when one can spend just a few hundred for most if not all the hardward items where one would install the pricy $M$ software. "Next."
Posted by lggirl (9 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Have you read the original story?
Microsoft was never had any intention on prosecuting the teacher in question. The original charges were brought by the Russian government. Microsoft has nothing to do with it. Microsoft decided to stay out of it and let the Russian authorities handle it as they seen fit.

I do agree that Microsoft pricing is high.
Posted by Ammon965 (1 comment )
Link Flag
They've hit the nail on the head
I can't count how many times I've purchased a computer with an OEM Windows license, then thrown out the OEM version to install another OS that I had to purchase separately. I would like to purchase the computer with the correct OS installed, or at least to not have to buy the OEM version with the computer.
Posted by extinctone (214 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Why dun u just chose one that comes wif Linux?
HP has got some that do not come with Windows, dun they?
Posted by pjianwei (206 comments )
Link Flag
Microsoft is just making this easy for Google.... hard to get in trouble for copying a free OS or free software.
Posted by dennishay (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Linux is useless
For an OS to challenge Windows it has to have 1 general version
and be commercially backed by a large company to ensure new
apps and uniformity. osX is the best candidate in my eyes but
Google is indeed the only company that could make it happen
for Linux. But it's still a ******** of work to get linux ready for
prime time, so much so that a 'Google-Linux' can't ensure to
follow the 'official' versions.

Same happened with the render engine in Safari, Apple could not
wait for the community to plug some holes and add features so
they separated. Do you want a Google-Linux not 100%
compatible with the other Linux'i ?
Posted by Peter Bonte (316 comments )
Link Flag
Why MS is affraid of this
Microsoft IS affraid of this type of scenario. Suppose all you need on your computer is a browser to do everything you need. The OS would no longer carry such importance. What would matter is the browser. This is the underlying reason why Microsoft forced Netscape into oblivion and why they were taken taken to court for blatant abuse of power. The core of the lawsuit: MS leveraged its OS market share and forces OEM's to restrict what applications could and couldn't be installed with windows and made default, and what shortcuts could and couldn't be displayed in the start menu and desktop. All that because they were affraid the OS would no longer be needed. My guess is that they still are affraid.
Posted by Seaspray0 (9714 comments )
Link Flag
is not going after anyone??? If you dont like MS pricing....dont buy it...simple as that.

Everyone bashing MS, when the Russian goverment is nothing more than a KGB filled mafia. I doubt Russia pays anything for any MS software they use.....and who is going to stop them.
Posted by Lindy01 (443 comments )
Reply Link Flag
so, what do you have to personally gain?
This seems to be very personal for you so I gotta ask; what do you have to gain by other's choosing Microsoft or how do other people not choosing Microsfot products hurt you personally?

Seems anyone who doesn't agree with your personal opinion of Microsoft get's this type of BS comment back from you. how about including some facts rather than a purely emotional argument?

For now, we'll disregard your blatanly racists and baseless allegations that Russians are criminal by nature and the Russian government is simply repackaged KGB. The statement does nothing more than demonstrait your complete ignorance.
Posted by jabbotts (492 comments )
Link Flag
You never answer me previously...
In another artical...You said something to the effect "Show me just one vulnerability being exploited..." re: MS Office compared to any others when there were thousands of examples to give. Foot still stuck in mouth? Rabid MS Fanboy here! :)
Posted by Microsoft_Facts (109 comments )
Link Flag
No, It Isn't As Simple As That
...not when you're dealing with a predatory monopoly. See my later post--it's quite difficult to get a non-Windows PC, esp. if you're not geeky enough to build it yourself.

Where do you see non-Windows PC's prominently displayed other than the Apple Store? I haven't seen 'em.
Posted by goombah (12 comments )
Link Flag
Don't you listen to a liar
Politely speaking Mr. Milovantsev is being insincere. Technically speaking he's a liar.

90% of computers sold in Russia are assembled from parts shipped from China, can be mostly are purchased without OS license of any kind.

People who earn average income don't buy computers. Period.

$50 in Moscow, is hardly a lot of money, you can't even buy a decent dinner in a restaurant for that these days.

People buying computers earn quite above average.
It's quite typical for an average businessman to purchase a new Mercedeses or BMW, or a new flat or a cottage, for hard green cash.

Russia has positive trade balance that is second only to China, btw, so for a goverment official pretending to be voice of the poor is a little bit lame.

The truth is that piracy is a business industry in Russia, well developed and highly profitable.

Which is the primary reason that despite quite a decent educational system and significant pool of technical talents, there is virtually no software industry.
Posted by Ice Moose (28 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Copying commercial software IS a crime
But if Windows hadn't been widely pirated in the past Microsoft would never have achieved the market share it has today.

"In particular he singled out Microsoft for its policy of not allowing partners to sell computers without copies of Windows pre-installed in Russia"

This apparently goes on everywhere, and until the DOJ or someone calls Microsoft on it, IMO, they have no business complaining about the way any other company runs their business.
Posted by rcrusoe (1305 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Re: Copying commercial software IS a crime
Whereas I don't necessarily blame Microsoft for going after people that pirate their software, I do agree that for them to strongarm their "partners" into including Windows on each system sold, well, it's just plain criminal.

Something does need to be done about it.

That's great for them to produce a product and sell it. I actually like some of their products (though I like UNIX/Linux/MacOS better), but forcing it down consumer's throats when they buy a new PC from a major manufacturer is WRONG.

Charles R. Whealton
Charles Whealton @ pleasedontspam.com
Posted by chuck_whealton (521 comments )
Link Flag
Pirating MS software should not be a crime.
Only MS software, not others. MS is a convicted monopolistic criminal that has paid no price for its crimes. If Bill and Steve do a few years in jail, then they'll have a leg to stand on. Until then I don't think pirating anything from MS should be a crime in any country.
Posted by Microsoft_Facts (109 comments )
Reply Link Flag
OEM can sell without windows, it's a choice
An Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) can put together a computer and sell it without windows. There is no law against this. That same manufacturer can also sell computers with and without windows. There is no law against this. However, Microsoft will only provide their operating system at a discount to OEM's that only sell computers with their operating system. It's the OEM that is making this choice... only sell computers with windows and get the discount, or choose the OS you wish to sell it with (including none) and do not get the discount.

Lets look at some other examples... KFC and Taco Bell only sell pepsi products to drink; Burger King only sells coke products. Apple only sells computers with OSX and does not give you a choice to have another preinstalled. These types of arrangements are common in business... you make a deal to only use products from a particular supplier and you get a discount from the supplier. So, why don't computer makers sell computers with other operating systems? Why don't you ask them.
Posted by Seaspray0 (9714 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I don't know what the legal situation is like in Russia (where the puny "slaps on the wrist" MS has taken in the US don't even apply), but in practical terms, OEM's generally don't have a reasonable choice.

For a decade or two now, Microsoft and its apologists/astroturfers (I'm not sure if you're one, or just been hoodwinked) have argued that people can have any OS on their computer they want, so they're really not a monopoly.

It should be pointed out that your comparison is with non-monopolistic, genuine competitors. There are plenty of other places I can get fried chicken, tex-mex and hamburgers if I don't want the soda brands offered at KFC, Taco Bell or Burger King. Apple sells their _own_ computers, so has some say-so about what OS goes on _their_ computers. Even so, Apple has allowed Terra Soft (distributors of Yellow Dog Linux--basically a Red Hat for the PowerPC chip) to sell PowerPC-based Macs with Yellow Dog Linux pre-installed. Details at <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.terrasoftsolutions.com/products/apple/" target="_newWindow">http://www.terrasoftsolutions.com/products/apple/</a> .

If Microsoft built its own computers like Apple does, it could be argued that they have the right to sell computers with only their operating system on them (and they can HAVE 'em as far as I'm concerned). The complaint about Microsoft is that they want to see that EVERYBODY ELSE selling computers only installs Microsoft Windows, with some token alternatives to say they're not "really" a monopoly.

Main problem; Microsoft IS a monopoly, and it has been established in court (U.S. vs. Microsoft) that Microsoft is a predatory monopoly (which is illegal); using their power as a monopoly to extend their monopoly power to additional markets.

OEM's operate on marginal profits as it is; to refuse the discounted OEM Windows pricing so that they can sell PC's with other OS's or none at all is to commit financial suicide. There are few exceptions to that rule. Even Dell has only tenuously dipped its toes into the alternative OS market.

In addition, Microsoft has repeatedly proven itself willing to undermine or harass OEM's who sell computers without Windows. They crow loudly that companies who sell non-Windows PCs are really selling PCs that will have illegal copies of Windows installed on them. That is not an automatic truth. If you would open up your mind long enough to visit Groklaw ( <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.groklaw.net" target="_newWindow">http://www.groklaw.net</a> ) and read the court papers on Comes v. Microsoft (the Iowa case), you would get an eyeful of info of how Microsoft has cynically manipulated the marketplace to establish itself as a predatory monopoly.

Microsoft has (and does) use its monopoly power, its money and plain old dirty tricks to undermine alternatives. What happened to DR-DOS (dead for years, now a marginal product)? MS put a fake bug in Windows to make it look like DR-DOS was an unreliable platform for Windows--when the truth was, Windows ran BETTER under DR-DOS. DR-DOS was also a victim of the "per-processor" license scam. BeOS? The "per-processor license" mainly. OS/2? In addition to IBM's own inept marketing, they too were a victim of the "per-processor" license scam. WordPerfect, Lotus 1-2-3 and a host of other apps? Microsoft played games in changing, improperly documenting and outright hiding the Applications Programming Interfaces (APIs). Except, of course, with its own Microsoft Office team. The only reason they haven't been able to kill off Linux (though they're trying desperately) is because instead of fighting a corporation, they're fighting a community which is as hard to beat as it is to win at Whack-a-Mole.

Most OEM's are running scared of Microsoft, and for good reason. (THAT'S why computer makers generally don't sell computers with other operating systems.) Only a few companies have dared throw their hat in the ring to spite Microsoft and give their customers true choice. Linux (the main alternative), while becoming stronger on the desktop (even moreso in the server market), does not yet have the market share to enable most OEM's to thumb their nose at Microsoft. Even the larger companies (like Dell) won't sell you a computer with Linux (or anything else) that's cheaper than a computer with MS Windows, and it can even be hard to FIND such computers on their websites. Perhaps it's economy of scale, perhaps it's underhanded pressure from Microsoft reminiscent of their "per-processor" license which got their hand slapped in the 1990's.

THAT's why OEM's generally don't sell computers with other OS's; Microsoft, using their power as a monopoly, has pushed them into a corner so that their only real choices are to toe the Microsoft line or go out of business.
Posted by goombah (12 comments )
Link Flag
"Milovantsev said....
... law enforcement efforts should be focused not on the individuals caught using fake software but the criminals manufacturing it...". How about Microsoft agreeing with IBM to develop and distribute OS/2 (which was on track to be a much better Operating system than Windows) for free then there will be less incentives to pirate Windows since according to reports it appears that almost 90% of the Windows Operating System in Russia and China are pirated copies; they can make money by selling applications that are much more difficult to be copied (have mechanisms on the Windows Operating Systems that disable applications that have not been paid for. In any case how come countries with students who finish 1st, 2nd, and 3rd.... respectively in international competitions and appear to be rather dependent on the softwares that were designed, developed and manufactured by other countries?
Posted by Commander_Spock (3123 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Russia needs to enact laws regarding monopolies
I would suggest that the Russian Government move swiftly to enact laws that ban Microsoft from engaging in anti-competitive behavior.

Even in the United States it is illegal for Microsoft to force PC manufacturers to install Microsoft Windows.
Posted by interoperate (24 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I love it!
Russia screamed it out for the whole world to hear, "Microsoft, your software is too expensive, that's why so many people have to pirate it!"

And that case with the teacher, a russian judge threw out the case! I love it!

I can't believe Microsoft wanted to throw the guy in jail for having unlicensed copies of windows and office on 12 machines used to teach children!

Bill Gates even had a chance to look like a hero by having dropping the charges but didn't. He would have looked golden and it would have helped his new sideline.
Posted by thedreaming (573 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Allow theft because the theif is poor?
Software piracy is theft pure and simple, regardless of the inadequant argument that due to the expense it is OK to steal it. This amounts to telling all of the local poor it is OK for them to rob any in the city who has more than they do. It IS that simple. If a poor person broke into a home of any poster here claiming it is OK to steal from Microsoft because it "costs too much", and robbed it, then claimed the state his/her poverty as an defense, how many on this board would allow that to fly? One person said it was a chance for Microsoft to play "hero". That statement is just plain wrong headed. If one person is allowed to make such a claim, then it is OK for anyone to steal from anyone who has more than they do. Is this logical? Nope, it is not. Microsoft has a duty to share holders to behave responsibly. Behaving responsibly is not allowing anyone to believe having less than another is a good reason to toss out morals, ethics and integrity. Now, I have sympathy for those who steal bread to feed their children if they have exhausted all avenues, but this still does not make theft OK. Microsoft, regardless of how huge it has become HAS paid a large price for over reaching in it eagerness to become the biggest and badest in the software market. For any who believe having to split a company into much smaller sections is a small slap on the wrist, do some finacial self education and learn just how harmfull this action can be. Splitting up companies or corperations is what corperate raiders do after a successfull take over. That is the only good reason to split up a corperation or company. Splitting costs a great deal of money just in losing centralized management alone. That is only ONE finacial hardship of splitting the appendages and body from the head. Each extra peice now needs it own "head". That costs a great deal of money and that hurts the bottom line in drasitic manners. Microsoft and Bill Gates has every right to make as much money as possible in his corperation. He just can't break laws in doing so and there is not a corperation so under the gun as his by Big Brother. Regardless of who would like to disagree it was always ify wether or not he had actually broke any laws or wether our government just got scared of the largest corperation in corperate America. Capitilism at its greatest can be a very daunting and frightening item. However, this still does not make it OK to steal from him or anyone else simply because they have more than others. As I mentioned earlier that will open a Pandora's box we would not enjoy at all.
Posted by Serenity_ree (3 comments )
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