I’ve been taking a look around the anti-piracy site Microsoft set up to honour their Global Anti-Piracy Day, which they chose to observe October 21. It includes quite in interesting map outlining what they are currently doing about their perceived problem, as well as thankful feedback from customers who have switched over to legal copies. Microsoft have always officially at least been quite indignant, not to mention litigious on the piracy topic and I understand why that needs to be their public stance, however methinks possibly they protest too much ! Putting aside the legalities for a moment, together with Romanian President Traian Basescu, I personally wonder whether consumer software piracy of at least the operating system is not actually a very good thing for them as it does a few things:
- builds mind share – the vast number of people right wrong or otherwise associate ‘personal computing’ with Microsoft as evidenced for example by the return rate of non-Windows based netbooks (four times higher than for XP based ones for one manufacturer)
- in the longer term it educates and influences the next generation of developers – cheap (free pirated copies) access to the OS actually sustains the pace of innovation of the Microsoft ecosystem
- dependencies – these encompass device architecture, peripherals and applications which work to extend the reach and continued lock-in of the consumer and business to the Microsoft ecosystem
As others have suggested – perhaps what they should do is just give a version of the OS away for free to consumers and focus on services and applications.
Getting back to the Microsoft web site and the detailed list of actions being taken – one thing that I found amusing is the apparent lack of Russian Microsoft pirates, although China and 47 other countries are specifically mentioned – does that mean they think Russia is pirate free ?