REDMOND, Wash., April 8, 2008 — Computer users have had their share of challenges with software piracy. Which is why, over the past two years, Microsoft has conducted a worldwide effort through its Genuine Software Initiative (GSI). This initiative program focuses the company’s many activities and investments on combating software counterfeiting and other forms of software piracy into a single initiative – protecting customers and partners from the risks and losses associated with counterfeit software.
This month, PressPass had a conversation with Cori Hartje, director of the Microsoft Genuine Software Initiative, to discuss the steps Microsoft is taking to address this problem, and for a two-year update on the progress of the GSI.
Press Pass: What progress has Microsoft made with the Genuine Software Initiative in the past year?
Hartje: Investments that we have made in protection efforts that benefit customers and partners are paying off. In the past year, we designed new packaging and developed new distribution models that make it harder for software pirates to counterfeit Microsoft products. Additionally, enhanced technologies built into many new Microsoft products like Windows Vista have made it considerably harder to pirate and profit from counterfeit copies of Windows Vista. To learn how to tell the difference between genuine and counterfeit Microsoft products, our customers can visit www.howtotell.com.
Press Pass: How has the piracy and counterfeiting landscape changed in the past few years?
Hartje: One of the major trends we’ve seen is an uptick in the amount of pirated and counterfeit software being manufactured and distributed overseas. We’ve seen sophisticated criminals that have manufactured high-quality counterfeit software for international distribution. As a result, we have been working closely with law enforcement globally to shut down these criminal organizations. One major success was the dismantling of one of the largest international counterfeit syndicates in history in July 2007. This syndicate was allegedly responsible for manufacturing and distributing more than $2 billion worth of high-quality counterfeit Microsoft software. This success was the result of a cooperative effort on the part of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation and China’s Public Security Bureau, with support from Microsoft. Additionally, hundreds of Microsoft customers through Microsoft’s Windows Genuine Advantage technology, and scores of Microsoft partners played an active role in providing data that contributed to this investigation.
Another positive trend we are beginning to see is an increased interest from governments around the world in combating piracy and counterfeiting because of the negative impact this problem has on their local and national economies. Two of the primary reasons that governments are interested in protecting IP are the need to support their own software or IP based industries and to generate stability to increase their foreign direct investment in business ventures. Along with these benefits the country’s economy grows from the financial return that comes from increasing legitimate technology businesses and then brings an increased tax base to support government programs like education and other infrastructure goals.
There are many examples of countries that have been progressive in their efforts to thwart software counterfeiting piracy. In Spain, Greece, and Brazil, for example, there has been an increase in government efforts to ensure that genuine software is used, and that economic benefits come to the local economy. China, too, has made strides in its efforts to reduce piracy. Over the past couple of years, the Chinese government has issued several decrees to push the use of genuine software in their country through such strategic efforts as government legalization, enterprise legalization and the expectation that original equipment manufacturers will sell PCs with licensed operating systems. There is still more work to be done, but progress has been made in many areas of the world.
Press Pass: How does GSI help customers who’ve been duped into purchasing counterfeit?
Hartje: Customers from around the world frequently share their experiences with me about being defrauded by counterfeiters. While we hate to hear about customers becoming victims, these conversations confirm that we are taking the right proactive steps through our anti-piracy efforts.
Recently, I was corresponding with a customer, Linda Elmenhorst in the U.S., about her experience being defrauded by counterfeit software. She purchased what she thought was a legitimate package of Microsoft Office for her business. It wasn’t until she went online to get the free Microsoft updates and downloads for Office that she discovered through the Office Genuine Advantage program she had inadvertently acquired non-genuine software. Frustrated and irritated by her experience, she reported her non-genuine software to Microsoft and we were able to provide her with a genuine copy of Microsoft Office that she still uses today.
Linda’s experience is not unique. Many consumers, who are trying to save money, have been duped by counterfeiters. They soon realize that the money they saved was not worth the possibility of having spyware, or other dangerous weaknesses impact their computer. Customers want to use genuine software after those experiences. The Microsoft anti-piracy website and our 1-800-RULEGIT hotline allow consumers to report their suspected non-genuine software; we are then able to follow up on those leads and help provide genuine software to those who have been deceived. That’s something we are committed to doing for customers, and something that we do daily.
Press Pass: What progress can we expect from Microsoft in the near future?
Hartje: We have a long-term commitment to reduce piracy and protect our customers and partners. We will continue to make investments through educating customers on the value of genuine products; engineering sophisticated anti-piracy and anti-counterfeiting technologies and redeveloping product distribution and packaging; and working with government and law enforcement agencies to promote the benefits of supporting legitimate software economies within their country. It is the combination of these efforts that will have the greatest impact on protecting our customers and partners, help reduce piracy and counterfeiting worldwide and positively impacting global economies.
We realize that many people are the unsuspecting victims of counterfeiters who take advantage of people who are just trying to get a special deal on the software they need. As a part of our engineering efforts, Microsoft will soon introduce an Office Genuine Advantage (OGA) notifications pilot program in Chile, Italy, Spain and Turkey that will be distributed through a voluntary Microsoft update. There will be no personal data collected or shared with Microsoft as customers implement the OGA notifications update. These notifications are designed to help alert customers who have acquired and are using non-genuine Office. Once notified, customers can take action to reduce the risk of running counterfeit software by getting genuine Office through the online purchase programs or by going to a local authorized Microsoft reseller.
Customers who find they were duped by high-quality counterfeit Microsoft Office software can file a counterfeit report; some customers may qualify for a free copy of genuine Microsoft Office.
To find out more about software piracy visit www.microsoft.com/piracy.
Article posted: Tuesday, 08 April 2008
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