Microsoft is advising Bahraini consumers and software resellers to be aware of the counterfeit Microsoft software that is currently being traded in the country. The pirated software, packaged to look like genuine software, is being sold below local market prices at rates that are often "too good to be true."
According to a global Microsoft survey that addresses consumer's attitudes on counterfeit software, more than 80% of consumers had concerns about using counterfeit software. These concerns range from risks of identity theft, virus attacks, and the fact that counterfeit products fund criminal activities. The high quality counterfeit Microsoft software currently being distributed in Bahrain includes fake hologram CDs and fake Certificate of Authenticity labels that look like the real thing and which are sold as complete software packages. Customers who make the purchases in good faith believe that what they are purchasing is genuine when the product is in fact counterfeit.
International police organizations and governments have announced there is growing evidence of organized criminal syndicates with global reach manufacturing and distributing software via sophisticated networks.
Bahrain is experiencing a rising number of what turns out to be 'accidental pirates' – people who unintentionally purchase counterfeit software from resellers and only later find out they have been cheated. In doing so, they expose themselves to a plethora of risks, which in the long-run can prove extremely costly for individuals, and often disastrous for businesses. "Honest resellers in Bahrain, who sell only genuine software, are put at an unfair disadvantage, and ultimately, the whole economy feels the effects, " said Savas Yucedag, Anti-Piracy Manager, Microsoft Gulf. "We are actively working to ensure our customers and partners in Bahrain are protected from unscrupulous suppliers – this is a responsibility we take extremely seriously. When they come to us for help, we make sure they receive the necessary support from Microsoft and collaborate with local law enforcement authorities to take appropriate enforcement action against resellers who are supplying counterfeit software. We're advising anyone who suspects they've purchased a counterfeit to report it via http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/howtotell/ " added Yucedag.
It is becoming increasingly difficult to differentiate between genuine and non-genuine software, unless consumers are discerning and know what to look out for. Microsoft suggests following these tips to avoid being misled when purchasing software:
- Before you purchase software, ask resellers to confirm it will pass the Windows activation test. Activation and validation are the keys to genuine software.
- Beware of the common gateways of digital counterfeiting: websites advertising 'cheap software'; online auction sites with links to download sites offering counterfeit software; and peer-to-peer (P2P) networks or other file-sharing technologies.
- Buy from a trusted source. Research online or local sellers extensively before making a purchase. Microsoft always recommends that Resellers source their software from a Microsoft Authorized Distributor, and that Consumers check that their suppliers sourced products supplied by a Microsoft Authorized Distributor. A current list of Microsoft Authorized Distributors is available at: http://www.microsoft.com/oem/authdist/default.mspx.
- Compare the price. Counterfeit software is often sold at a much cheaper price, but can end up costing users hundreds or thousands of dollars later on.
- Be suspicious of products that lack some form of proof of authenticity – such as a hologram, CD, DVD, recovery media, manuals and Microsoft Software License Terms (MSLT).
- Be extremely careful when buying from software sellers in other countries as this complicates matters if the transaction goes awry.
- Keep your anti-virus program up to date. This reduces your computer's risk of exposure to viruses and malware when downloading software.
- Say no to sellers offering backup copies or bundles of several programs.
According to a recent report by the Business Software Alliance (BSA), the software piracy rate stands at 54 per cent in the country, resulting millions of dollars of revenue loss in 2010. Commenting on the severity of the issue, Tareq Hijazi, the Microsoft Bahrain country manager noted: "The scope of the piracy problem in Bahrain is immense, and we're working with the Bahraini authorities to make a measurable impact on the piracy rate." Hijazi continued, "We're providing the necessary support and resources to our resellers who are committed to selling 'genuine' and we're urging victims of software counterfeiting to report counterfeiting so that other consumers are protected from the risks posed by counterfeit software."
For more information on how to protect yourself from counterfeit software, as well as tips and tricks for how to spot, avoid and report illegal software, please visit Microsoft's anti-counterfeiting site http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/howtotell/