Computer Crime Research Center


Fighting Piracy? Microsoft is not by your side

Date: December 05, 2006
By: gaurabpoudel

The term 'Computer Crime' sounds very hi-tech and when heard of we usually imagine extravagant laboratories,super computers and brilliant minds in front of them. But the biggest criminals of computer crimes are the people doing the lowest level of work with computers and that is because computer software are the most valuable and vulnerable parts of the system. The unauthorized use of computer software for the commercial or personal gain is commonly known as 'Software Piracy'. What makes software piracy this huge is the way to execute it being so easy, simple and virtually harmless. People think nothing of making extra copies for sharing with friends, co-workers and others. In many third world countries people are not even aware that what they are doing is something illegal.

What percentage of the software being used in Nepalese market are originals ? I have been trying to figure out some approximation by some time. I did some 'Googling' and surfed through to find some useful information the software piracy rates in Nepal, but the World Wide Web failed me or more precisely the search-engines. But this failure was logical because when it comes to the big market of software piracy Nepal is too small destination to be considered. Asian tech giants China ( tops the world chart) and India has the piracy rate of 92% and 73% respectively. Big companies and specially Microsoft are losing in billions because pirated software. But to control this piracy , one has to get into the root of it, that is , the very first and most important software in computer , the 'Operating System'. The piracy of computer software starts with OS and the OS market of world is dominated by Microsoft Windows. Almost 90% of the desktop PCs run Windows while Linux has the market share of 3.5%. And Linux being an open source there is no question of piracy. Thus the normal PC users worldwide start with a pirated version of MS windows OS and one by one other pirated software are added to the system.

Lets try to analyze the loss of Microsoft alone because of piracy. The worldwide estimate is that, the MS windows run on 90% of PC's worldwide and 95% of them ( among home/single users ) are pirated. Now imagine how much Microsoft is losing in a situation where despite of piracy Microsoft expects to post a fiscal 2007 profit of $1.43 to $1.46 a share on revenue of between $50 billion and $50.9 billion. Then why can not Microsoft make better policies to stop this, all Microsoft ( or all software makers ) have done so far is , they have placed a notice in or on the package or manual supplied with the software limiting the user in what he or she can do to or with the program. However, many users ignore these notices. Additionally, " There is no way to prove that the purchaser actually saw those limitations or that he or she agreed to them". Also, it is difficult to legally restrict or control what is done with software after it has been purchased. But, these are legal and ethical matters, why can not Microsoft solve the matter technically ? is it not possible for Microsoft who has made virtually everything possible within last one decade. Why does not Microsoft develop a system that can not be pirated or can not be used unethically ? Do they have a reason for this ? Many believe, yes.

Many computer professionals and IT business analysts believe that Microsoft's real intent is to discourage customers from trying alternative operating systems. The real intention behind this is monopolistic anti-Linux behavior of Microsoft. Because Microsoft has to think about not only today but also for the time to come. Now, lets imagine what will happen if they develop a Operating System impossible to be cracked by the hackers or pirates, will people go for that OS and every single original software which has to be bought legally after the installation of that OS ? Is it possible for the people of third world countries to pay more for every software than the cost of PC and its peripherals actually ? Definitely not. Thus, what will people do then ? They will start looking for other alternative OS and software which come for free and hence they go for Open Source Software. Let us assume, among 95% of desktop PC users who use pirated version of Windows, 25% will buy the original OS from Microsoft (could easily be lesser than that) but 70% or more surely go for Linux and other free stuffs. This would make more people Linux literate. Assembled PC manufacturers (who make big group worldwide) will go the extra length in convincing their potential customers to buy a PC pre-installed with Linux and might impress them mentioning the good aspects of Linux - after all they also have to look at their bottom lines and at the same time be able to provide a PC at a more competitive rate than the branded PCs. And once these people start using Linux, they will realize how much value this remarkable OS and the applications installed in it can provide when compared to a similar proprietary solution which costs bundles of money. And this way, more and more people will opt for Linux everyday. Younger people will start with Linux as the first operating system they try and that will result more and more and better and better Open Source Software every day. Free software will be every day thing and there will be no piracy.

Now come back to present situation and think again, even if there is so much of piracy worldwide , Microsoft is making bigger money every year. That is because this money is coming from different kind of all the government and private companies and organisations worldwide, who buy the licenced version of OS and software, and not from the individual users who use pirated version. The problem for these all small or big firms or organisations is that , even if they love to switch to free OS and software, they can not do it now because its hard to find Linux literate people to work on and if found they cost a lot. But as explained, the scene might change if Microsoft makes uncrackable OS and software. And if more sophisticated software and more Linux literate available, all the big or small companies worldwide will sooner or later switch to Open Source OS and Software. This way, Microsoft may bankrupt in coming 10 years or so.

To avoid this loss, Microsoft has to make sure it is the only player in race and to make that sure PIRACY MUST GO ON. Hard to digest, yet this theory scores . People might be thinking otherwise, but piracy is helping Microsoft to establish itself in emerging markets and fend off threats from free open-source programs. Microsoft, in turn , is hoping that as software markets growing like never and continue to grow, all the small and illegal players (mainly from third world countries) in the game will get big someday and ultimately buy the originals in time to come. And this will keep the empire of Microsoft intact for long long time, but for the individual and single machine pirates, they do not need to worry too much at the moment, software piracy is here to stay, at least for some time to come.
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2009-02-17 00:50:45 - hey i was researching on misuse of... Nepali student
2006-12-21 15:59:35 - Hello! I don't know your sources, but you... MaeseRalf
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