Microsoft Announces a New Initiative to Combat Counterfeit Software and Piracy

By | March 9, 2006

As part of its commitment to help protect consumers and resellers from counterfeit software and other forms of software piracy, Microsoft Corp. today announced its new Genuine Software Initiative. The Genuine Software Initiative (GSI) will focus the company´s many activities and investments directed at combating software counterfeiting and other forms of software piracy into a single coordinated effort. The initiative will focus increasing investments across three strategic areas: education, engineering and enforcement.

Piracy and counterfeit products are an important issue across the entire technology industry. The Business Software Alliance (BSA) estimates that 35 percent of all software used worldwide is counterfeit or otherwise illegal. The recent IDC Economic Impact Study found that if the global software piracy rate was lowered 10 percentage points over the next four years, this change would contribute 2.4 million new jobs and $400 billion in economic growth to the global economy.

Educational efforts are crucial to helping protect consumers and reducing software piracy. The best way to help protect consumers is to raise awareness of the issue and equip them to spot counterfeit software and help them understand what they should do about it.

“By being aware and reporting counterfeit software, consumers can help protect themselves and other consumers, which is good for them, good for software resellers and good for the software industry,” said Cori Hartje, director of License Compliance at Microsoft. “This is why we see these kinds of investments as good for everyone; it´s win, win, win.”

Industry analysts agree. “It´s a different, more dangerous world,” said Laura DiDio, research fellow from The Yankee Group speaking about the general counterfeit problem in the industry. “Technology is more sophisticated, but so are the software pirates. Consumers or businesses that deploy counterfeit software put their PCs and networks at peril for encountering tampered code, viruses and even credit card theft. In the end, the consumer and the corporation may suffer just as much, if not more, harm than the software vendors.”

As part of the overall effort to raise awareness, Microsoft is working along with industry partners to make consumers aware of the increasing risks associated with acquiring and installing counterfeit software. While the Internet facilitates commerce, it has also been adopted by software pirates as a new vehicle for peddling their illegal wares. The possibility of a system becoming infected by spyware or other malware such as viruses or receiving incomplete code increases when consumers are sold counterfeit software over the Internet. Microsoft has also seen instances of credit card theft by those purporting to sell software online that later turned out to be counterfeit.

“It used to be that we were dealing simply with unlicensed counterfeit copies of software, which hurt Microsoft and the ecosystem of partners that makes a living selling our products,” Hartje said. “Today the problem is much bigger, and it´s our responsibility to do whatever we can to help protect consumers and ensure that they are purchasing and using genuine Microsoft software.”

In addition to exposing users to critical issues such as identity theft as a result of acquisition of illegal software, installing and using counterfeit software can prevent customers from obtaining updates or add-on products such as newer versions of Microsoft Windows Media Player or Microsoft Internet Explorer. Access to these technologies is offered to users of genuine Microsoft Windows products through a validation process. As part of the Genuine Software Initiative, Microsoft is encouraging customers to use the Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) tools and the other information available on to help ensure they have genuine software.

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