May 9, 2003

Microsoft's double standard on third-world piracy

- by Codes_Every_Day* -

SouthEast Asia - I would like to talk about Microsoft's double standard regarding software piracy. I work for a software development company. We are currently working on different projects for a big telecommunications company under Microsoft's Consulting Services division. But let me tell you... at this very moment, if the BSA comes crashing into our development location, all our equipment will be confiscated, and we will be fined for our use of pirated Microsoft products (Windows 2000 AS, Visual Studio 6.0, Visual Studio .NET, SQL Server 2000, BizTalk 2000, etc.).

Microsoft knows about our use of pirated software. Their pirated software. And yet they do not even enforce the obvious. I do not know exactly why, but I will give a few theories.

One obvious theory is that we are developing a system that will require the client to buy a lot of expensive Microsoft licenses. We build using pirated software. Client buys a 100 connection license for Win2k, Biztalk, SQL Server. Microsoft gets the money for new licenses sold and for a huge percentage of the project and gets richer even though pirated software is used. Microsoft doesn't care that we are using pirated software for development since it is only for development. But then, this goes against their word that using piracy hurts the industry, hurts jobs, hurts the economy, hurts everyone. Obviously people are earning money by using pirated material, and the client, even though they will be buying and using licensed products, benefited by lower costs from our use of pirated material. So where did anyone lose out? If Microsoft believes in their "piracy hurts everyone" theory, then they should already be getting us arrested.

Next theory... Microsoft is simply waiting for us to get more projects, which means more computers used, which means more unlicensed material in our posession. This would mean that they could suddenly threaten us to spend a lot of money or risk losing everything we've worked on. They might not exactly use Microsoft people to go after us, but go under the umbrella of the BSA and get our hardware confiscated and impose a fine on us.

Possibility? Definitely. Microsoft already does this. They wait until their products are absolutely entrenched in a company, then go after. It might not be Microsoft specifically that enforces the license agreement, but they are definitely a part of it. Just shows the risk of being dependent on one single company.

Last theory is that Microsoft simply doesn't care. They make money so they don't really care that their product is pirated. This is what everyone already knows, and they know that they can't effectively prosecute in a country where law enforcement people easily accept bribes. They could probably bribe judges themselvse, but it might cost them more than what they would get. So they go after the U.S. companies, and just wait until governments in other countries can be easily bought or scared by the U.S. government. They definitely know that piracy helps them in the long run.

So what? Well, it just shows that being Microsoft-centric is a very big risk. Microsoft knows it doesn't have any competition. No Linux, Sun, IBM to worry about. So they just earn money even though we use pirated software. And they might be just waiting until we get enough computers to be worth going after. Or simply wait until the local government is scared by the threat of the U.S. government enforcing trade embargos if piracy isn't reduced.

Whichever way it goes, Microsoft wins.

*Codes_Every_Day is obviously a pseudonym, used because the writer might lose his job if this was published under his real name. If you want to communicate with him privately instead of posting a public message in response to this commentary (which, like all contributed commentaries we publish, contains opinions that may or may not be shared by OSDN editors and management), please email and we'll forward your message to him.

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