Microsoft and Consumers Take Action Against Global Software Piracy

Initiatives to protect consumers launched in 70+ countries on "Consumer Action Day" - two Canadian lawsuits launched based on consumer reports

REDMOND, WA, Dec. 3 /CNW/ - Software piracy is a global issue that negatively affects consumers and local economies, and Microsoft has seen a surge of voluntary reports from consumers who unknowingly purchased counterfeit software around the world. In response, Microsoft is launching "Consumer Action Day," a simultaneous launch of education initiatives and enforcement actions in more than 70 countries to protect consumers and increase awareness of the risks of counterfeit software. An interactive map detailing these efforts around the world today can be found at www.howtotell.com.

Microsoft Corporation has launched two civil lawsuits against Canadian system builders in London and Hamilton, Ontario for allegedly hard disk loading Microsoft(R) Windows(R) XP operating system on new custom-built computers. The company also reached 12 settlement agreements with resellers selling counterfeit or pirated Microsoft Windows XP Home, Windows XP Professional, Windows Vista(R) Ultimate, and Microsoft Office 2003 Professional edition. Both lawsuits and settlements were as a result of Canadians filing formal complaints online and through the 1-800-R-U-LEGIT hotline.

"Nearly half of Canadian consumers are concerned about mistakenly purchasing counterfeit toys, video games and software online this holiday season(i). Counterfeit products defraud and can endanger consumers, steal revenue from legitimate Canadian business, and cost our economy millions of dollars a year," said Christopher Tortorice, Corporate Counsel, Anti-Piracy, Microsoft Canada Co. "We are committed to help educate and protect Canadian consumers and technology partners in an attempt to stem the tide of counterfeit software in Canada."

To address the increasing sophistication of software counterfeiters, Microsoft is enhancing its anti-piracy work on all three fronts: education, engineering and enforcement. Today's actions around the world emphasize the company's growing commitment to protect consumers. Tips from customers and technology partners are vital in helping Microsoft address piracy.

Canadian small business owner Shawn Pelling said he purchased Microsoft Office software through a vendor he'd not used before: "I was looking for software for my business, and wanted to save us some money. After a few weeks of using the software, it turned out that we had been sold a high quality counterfeit package. I appreciate Microsoft stepping up and helping address this issue."

On the engineering front, Microsoft has improved the product activation and validation process with Windows(R) 7. Windows Activation Technologies in Windows 7 are built on the Software Protection Platform introduced with Windows Vista. This enables Windows to protect itself by detecting when attempts have been made to circumvent or tamper with built-in product activation technology. It also helps customers more easily activate the product and resolve potential issues. Windows 7 includes the latest generation of this technology, so users will see more informative notification messages and be able to more easily complete the steps in the process.

The software industry has long studied the black market for pirated software and its effects on consumers. One seminal study by IDC in 2006(ii) showed that one in four Web sites offering counterfeit software attempted to install unwanted or malicious code upon downloading. This rate is rising, as found by Media Surveillance, an anti-piracy solutions company based in Germany, when it recently downloaded several hundred pirated copies of Windows and hacks and found that 32% contained malicious code. The IDC report also described a review of counterfeit Microsoft software purchased at resellers in 17 countries: more than 50 percent contained phony code, had malware, or could not even be installed.

"The global problem of counterfeit software calls for an international response and a strategy which targets sophisticated crime syndicates taking advantage of unwary consumers," said Kunio Mikuriya, Secretary General, World Customs Organization. "Through vigilance and active feedback to public institutions and companies like Microsoft, consumers and businesses will be instrumental in overcoming this problem. The serious economic consequences generated by this illicit trade make it imperative that we urgently pool our efforts, strengths and expertise to fight this crime."

Microsoft encourages anyone who receives suspicious software to call the company's anti-piracy hotline at 1-800-R-U-LEGIT (785-3448). More information about genuine Microsoft products, licensing and labels is available at http://www.howtotell.com.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq "MSFT") is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

    
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    (i)  The online poll of 1,740 adult Canadians was conducted in November
         2009 by The Strategic Counsel
    (ii) The Risks of Obtaining and Using Pirated Software, IDC White Paper
         sponsored by Microsoft, Doc No. WP1006GRO, October 2006
    

SOURCE Microsoft Canada Inc.

For further information: For further information: John Clute, (416) 644-2267, jclute@highroad.com


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