RealTime IT News

Microsoft's Piracy Fight Takes a New Road

Microsoft has spent enough time going after software counterfeiters in court, so the company is taking a more proactive stance.

The software giant, whose products are among the most pirated in the world, created the Genuine Software Initiative (GSI) to protect its consumers and resellers from bogus software.

Microsoft said in a statement that GSI will include investments in education, engineering and enforcement, but was not specific about how much money it will pump into these areas to fight pirates.

The company has a section on its Web site devoted to helping users identify counterfeit software. The vendor also pledged to add anti-counterfeiting features to its software.

While the Web is used properly for e-commerce, it has also served as a venue for perpetrators to sell their illegal software.

But more than stealing from the programmers who wrote the software and the company selling it, counterfeit software has been known to carry with it risks: spyware, viruses or incomplete code is common among counterfeit software sold over the Internet.

Perps have also fleeced customers by bilking their credit cards and failing to give them software over the Web.

The Business Software Alliance (BSA), which tracks and reports software piracy settlements, estimates that 35 percent of all software used worldwide is counterfeit.

Based on research from IDC, the BSA said that cutting the current global piracy rate by 10 percentage points over four years could globally create 2.4 million new jobs, $400 billion in economic growth and $67 billion in new tax revenues.

"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.

In related Microsoft news today, the company has tabbed Bill Laing general manager of the Windows Server Division. Laing succeeds Bob Muglia who was promoted to senior vice president for Microsoft's server and tools business.

The new appointment is part of the realignment Microsoft kicked off last September.