Across the globe, Microsoft, along with many other Intellectual Property stakeholders, strives to protect its customers and partners from counterfeit and pirated software. The Organisation for Economic Development based in Paris, France estimates that the value of counterfeit goods and pirated copyrights in world trade grew from US$ 100 billion in 2001 to US$ 250 billion in 2007. As a popular operating system used on computers globally, pirated Microsoft software can be freely bought in many countries.
Genuine Software Initiative (GSI)
Microsoft Sri Lanka has launched the Genuine Software Initiative (GSI) to combat software counterfeiting and other forms of software piracy into a single coordinated effort. This initiative protects the decision of genuine resellers and users of Microsoft, many of whom would like to see a validation of their decision through enhanced anti-piracy action. Education, in the form of regular trainings conducted for the Resellers, is a key channel through which Microsoft Sri Lanka is raising awareness among customers and resellers about the risks of counterfeit software. Globally, Microsoft also places emphasis on Engineering, by continuing to invest in anti-counterfeit technologies and product features that protect its intellectual property and alert consumers worldwide to the presence of counterfeit software.
Why is Genuine Software Better?
Genuine software provides reliability, security and support, enabling confidence that your systems and company are protected. By using fully licensed, genuine Microsoft software, customers can be confident that they will have access to the latest features and full technical support through the local Microsoft Helpdesk to help improve their productivity and expand the capabilities of their technology. They will also have access to new innovations and offerings available only to genuine Windows customers, which assists in maximizing product lifecycle and enhances the customer’s user-experience. Another benefit for genuine Windows users is the availability of a world-class antivirus protection for their home PCs that can be downloaded and installed absolutely free. Additionally, the purchase of Genuine Software entitles the user to a 3-year warranty on their products. To date, with the awareness for genuine software on the rise, a total of 43,000 Microsoft Essentials Security packs have been downloaded in January alone. This is indicative of the interest for genuine offers available for customers and the long term cost effectiveness of the packs in the long term.
Security Risks of Counterfeit Software
Piracy is not a victimless crime. When software is pirated, the customer does not get access to the updates and upgrades that are being made available from time to time.
What’s more, research has found that the cost for an organization to recover from a single incident of malicious software on a single workstation can run over US$ 1,000, while the cost to an organization from lost or compromised data can run into the tens of thousands of dollars per incident
The chance of receiving an incomplete code increases when consumers are sold counterfeit software over the Internet, while credit card fraud masquerading as online software sales is also common.
Consumers are at risk of downloading or purchasing counterfeit software that can expose their systems to spyware, malware, and viruses that can lead to identify theft, loss of data, and worse.
In a Harrison Group study investigating the impact of unlicensed software on mid-sized companies, it was found that companies using unlicensed and/or counterfeit software were 73% more likely to have loss or damage of sensitive data, and 43% more likely to have critical computer failures lasting 24 hours or more than those using fully and properly licensed genuine software.
Companies face potential risks to their reputation from the use of counterfeit software, especially if there is a resulting loss of sensitive data. While at first sight it might be cheaper than the original, pirated software proves expensive in the long run as it exposes users to risks such as identity theft and so on.
Intellectual Property Rights (IPR)
Transgressing IP rights affects genuine small Sri Lankan companies as much as it affects large multinationals. IPR impacts every aspect of daily life – and touches nearly every product and service acquired and consumed.
The software industry relies on independent vendors who develop multi-platform products that are integrated into a customer solution. The creative work of software architects and programmers generates intellectual outcomes in the form of software and applications. By protecting this Intellectual Property (IP), likely more of these high-skilled jobs are created
Peter Peiris, Group Manager, Enterprise Solutions at DMS Electronics Ltd, commented: “As this year’s Best Managed Microsoft Partner, we clearly see the value of Microsoft software and how Microsoft impacts the partner network in Sri Lanka as well as the broader technology adoption in our country. Intellectual Property protection is vital for the success of local companies such as ours in Sri Lanka. It is in our (DMS Electronics Ltd, and its sister companies) interest to protect our IP in order to earn revenue to further develop and support our home-grown software. Furthermore, it is high time we, as a nation of entrepreneurs and established companies alike entering a new phase of growth, realize our full potential and at the same time gain respect by keeping at pace with competing nations, by protecting what is rightfully ours, be-it product-inventions, creative inventions, company names or trademarks. Not only do we want to protect our own IPR, we also want to make sure other IP owners’ rights are respected.”
Microsoft Sri Lanka Taking Action to Protect Genuine Resellers
According to Microsoft, dealers offering computers that contain pirated software are not only putting honest dealers at risk due to the unfair competition it creates; they also put businesses at risk.
Poojitha Rajapakse, OEM Director, Microsoft Sri Lanka (Pvt) Ltd, stated: “We know a lot of consumers still think of software counterfeiting as a victimless crime, yet I think we’ve hit a tipping point : further to the various sales and marketing efforts, paired with mystery shopping / market research campaigns and test purchases. The sheer increase in counterfeit software reports and queries from our customers and partners is remarkable. In fact, at least one of the cases announced in the press earlier were the direct result of a consumer report. I think the biggest thing is that Government is giving consumers the opportunity to report it – and when consumers do this, proper investigation and action will be taken.”
He added, “For Microsoft Partners there is a revenue opportunity when selling only genuine software via the accredited Microsoft Distributors (as opposed to engaging in selling pirated, or both genuine and pirated, or grey imports). We have listened to our customers and resellers and have implemented a number of marketing programs during the past few years in the OEM channel such as an OEM incentive program, OEM training zone and the OEM Sales Academy, supporting resellers and customers.”
The OEM Incentive Program for System Builders is a cash rebate and co-marketing reimbursement program designed to help Microsoft’s OEM partners generate demand for Microsoft products. Partners who meet the eligibility requirements of the Local OEM Incentives Program are invited by their Microsoft account manager to register and access the Channel Incentive Platform (CHIP), an online web portal.
OEM Training Zone is a central destination for product and program training and readiness materials created specifically for Microsoft OEM partners. Microsoft partners may register or sign-in to find training content reflecting the richest product and solution suites for Microsoft Windows 7, Office 2010 and Windows Server 2008 R2 plus recently added content for the Channel Incentives Program (CHIP).
The OEM Sales Academy was program designed to train and develop OEM sales personnel to enhance their sales and product knowledge while learning to apply that knowledge to real sales scenarios. In addition participants are educated on how to leverage on selling genuine software and enhancing the customer experience vs. non-genuine.
In a bid to ensure that customers receive genuine software and the best price, Microsoft recommends when buying a new PC to purchase the Windows operating system pre-installed on the new PC.
The Microsoft OEM license is designed to make it easy for system builders to acquire and distribute genuine Microsoft software with the systems they build and sell.
How consumers can avoid becoming victims of the trade in software piracy
There are several steps that everyone can take to help ensure that they don’t jeopardize themselves or their business by purchasing counterfeit software, including buying from a reputable reseller, confirming with the reseller that the software will pass validation; ensure that a Certificate of Authenticity (COA) is included; is a hologram CD, DVD, or recovery media included; are the product packaging and documentation high quality and is there an End-user License Agreement (EULA).
Customers are may inform themselves by visiting the Microsoft website How to Tell at http://www.microsoft.com/resources/howtotell which provide detailed information and examples of counterfeit software and provide guidance on what consumers should watch out for before purchasing software, to ensure they are making informed decisions.
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 http://www.microsoft.com/genuine to help ensure they have genuine software.