Partners in Punjab unite against Microsoft

By Zia Askari - 5 March, 2007

New Delhi
March 5, 2007

After having faced the wrath of Microsoft's ongoing anti-piracy campaign, the IT channel community of Amritsar and Jalandhar are all set to take certain measures against the company's dual standards towards piracy. The growing dissent may push the vibrant channel community to keep away from selling Microsoft products.

“So far there are about eight companies that have been penalized in Amritsar and the monetary penalties sometimes range up to Rs 30,000. I strongly feel that a company like Microsoft should not have gone down to this level. They talk about educating the partners, and yet there is no representation of Microsoft in Amritsar, it was all being executed by their legal team here. If the company is serious about curbing piracy, it should first educate partners and not punish,” explained, Upkar Singh Sethi, President, Amritsar-based Association of Computer Entrepreneurs.

Keeping in mind the kind of damage inflicted on the channel community, the association is now set to put up a strong front against the global software major. “All our 62 members are going to hold a meeting next week to discuss our future course of action on this. We are business minded people and do not want to fight with a big company like Microsoft. But now the company is going way too far and we really need to do something about the issue,” he added.

Microsoft has already started issuing letters to the channel community of Jalandhar as well. With nowhere to go, the channel community of Jalandhar is now looking at aligning itself with other regional associations who are protesting against Microsoft's campaign. “There are about eight such companies that have received letters with regard to the anti-piracy campaign. We are going to discuss this issue with other associations in the region and decide our future course of action,” informed, Rajiv Khanna, President, Jalandhar Computer Dealers Association (JCDA).

When contacted about the issue Microsoft's official spokesperson said that the channel community is very important for the company's operations and the company is ready to work closely with local associations on this issue. “Our anti-piracy initiative is directed towards eradicating the menace of piracy. We do feel the importance of channel community and we are ready to discuss future course of action with the local associations,” the spokesperson added.
Channel on the other side
Whether it is a global IT product company or a software focused organization, channel community has played a vital role in terms of addressing the 'last mile availability' solution for these companies. Imagine the strength of the channel community working against a company like Microsoft. The results, according to industry experts, would be more than disastrous.

“Today, the channel are being treated like criminals, though it was Microsoft who initially encouraged piracy to make its operating system popular. I would say that over the past few months, Microsoft has been playing with fire. It is only because the channel community in India is not that organized otherwise it would not have been easy for Microsoft to impose penalties. Now if these small associations come together it can pose a bigger threat to Microsoft than any other region,” added a market analyst on condition of anonymity.
Winds of change
While dissent in the channel community has been festering for a while now, this is possibly the first time that regional associations are more than eager to join hands and are most likely to play a vital role in terms of voicing issues against a big MNC like Microsoft.

“You never know if we as a channel can create a wave all over the country for promoting Linux in India. We are the ones who can explain the problems of Vista to the end-user (eg the system hanging, activation issues, high configuration requirements etc). Microsoft should not underestimate the strength of the channel, which is suffering at their hands time and again,” added a reseller from Chandigarh.

Additionally, the channel community also feels that piracy is going on unabashedly even now at the very locations that 'Microsoft sleuths' raided a while ago. “Microsoft is proudly advertising the names of those retail locations as 'Partners who have promised not to get into piracy', they need to actually go and re-check. These partners are not at all clean even now,” added a market source.

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