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Meter Down On Piracy

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DQC News Bureau
Updated On
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While various channel associations have appreciated the anti-piracy

initiative undertaken by Microsoft, the need of the hour is to provide education

to customers and the channel on why they should opt for original software so as

to make it completely effective

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When Microsoft rolled out its anti-piracy drive last year, it made the

channel sit up and take notice. Then the vendor decided to work with various

channel associations for taking its anti-piracy drive forward and wanted to

educate the channel about the fallacies of piracy and inform them about the

penalty for indulging in it.

Most associations were vocal with their support to the vendor for this

initiative, but many felt that it got diluted because Microsoft did not follow

it up consistently. In some cases, Microsoft officials who were locally involved

in the anti-piracy drive would keep changing. As a result, the drive could not

be carried out effectively.

So the big question is, how successful has Microsoft been in this attempt to

curb piracy? Has the drive really worked or was it just another initiative that

looked good on paper?

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Happy to join hands



The Jalandhar Computer Dealers' Association (JCDA) and Progressive Channel

Association of Information Technology (PCAIT), Delhi were two associations roped

in early by the vendor to assist them in their initiative. While, both were all

praise for Microsoft's efforts, they also had a few suggestions to give.

According to Rajiv Khanna, President, JCDA, the drive was successful and the

association made every effort to make Jalandhar a piracy-free zone. At least 70

to 80 percent of its members accepted the initiative.

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“Partners looking for long-time business welcomed the decision and

implemented the same. However, the campaign has not produced 100 percent

results,” Khanna said.

He further felt that even today many customers are not aware that they use

pirated software and do not also know the technical benefits of original

software. “Microsoft should target customers for creating awareness about

genuine software. On our end, we constantly display message boards at the

offices of all association members to help make the efforts more effective,” he

added.

Puneet Singhal, President of Delhi-based CMDA too felt that there was a need

to educate end-users by advertising through various media and sensitizing the

public at large. “Also partners deserve their share of minimum profits for

survival. We at CMDA have always stood for ethical practices and would continue

to do so,” he added.

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PCAIT was all praises for the awareness drive that Microsoft had initiated.

But there were a few areas of concern that were required to be addressed. There

is a need to prepare a roadmap for the drive and then keep the momentum going.

Another problematic area was that if one Microsoft representative initiated

this drive, then a second person came into the picture later. As a result, the

drive could not be carried out smoothly.

“In February, 2008 during our annual general meeting we explained the hazards

of using pirated products while educating members about the license and the

myths surrounding it. But the program has still got to pick up,” said Saket

Kapur, Secretary, PCAIT.

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The Panipat Computer Dealers Association will continue to hold meetings and

engage in activities to curb piracy. Even Ashish Jain, President, Bhoj

Information Technology and Office Automation Association (BITOAA) opined, “The

drive is a first of its kind in Bhopal and will create awareness among partners,

which will further help us operate in a healthy environment.”

Another channel association that was vocal in its support to the anti-piracy

drive is Confed-ITA of Tamil Nadu. At a recent meeting between Confed-ITA and

Microsoft's legal team, the latter maintained that it would continue its

activities to curb the piracy.

What more is needed?



The channel has been vociferous in its demand that Microsoft revisit the

pricing of its products in India, if it is serious about curbing piracy. An

original Windows operating system package is valued at Rs 3,500 and if a

customer further wants to install Windows Office then it costs him around Rs

14,000 and Photoshop is close to Rs 20,000.

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“The moment a customer is given the pricing details, he loses interest in the

benefits of installing the original operating system from Microsoft. This is a

loss for us. Our responsibility is limited only till offering the customer the

original version of Windows, beyond that if he installs pirated versions of

other software, we will not be responsible for it and as per the law will

neither be scrutinized by Microsoft.”

With an objective to discourage the customers from buying pirated software,

PCDA held a rally in the region in February this year. According to Singla,

“Microsoft has been running the anti-piracy drive for quite sometime now but

still customers are unwilling to shell out money for the original software due

to the price factor. Through this rally we wanted to take public awareness to

the next level. The thrust was not only on buying Microsoft software but also

those available from Adobe, Coral, Oracle and others.”

Frequent interactions with the channel partners coupled with roadshows and

public demonstration will help Microsoft to get more partners on its side of the

drive. “The vendor has begun all of these initiatives. It is a question of time

before they become fully effective,” S Karthikeyan, President, Confed-ITA

stated.

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Meanwhile Microsoft and Indore-based IT association Madhya Pradesh Telecom

and Computer Traders Association (MPTCTA) have agreed to make joint efforts to

reduce piracy in the market. Microsoft had suspended its raids on the grounds

that the association would lend its support to stop sales of counterfeit

software.

Manish Goyal, President, MPTCTA said that after Microsoft sent legal notices

to few dealers in town, the association wanted to hold a discussion with the

vendor so that such instances are not repeated in future and dealers get all the

requisite support to drive genuine software in the market.

“To drive original software in the market, the foremost requirement is that

customers understand its value. Through Microsoft's support, we would take

initiatives to create this awareness among the software buyers,” indicated Goyal.

Microsoft speak



Sharing his thoughts on the effectiveness of the anti-piracy drive, Brian

Campbell, Director-Original Software Initiative, Microsoft India said, “Over the

last few years, we have seen an increased awareness for the perils of piracy and

the corresponding benefits of original software. This is a result of

consolidated efforts put in by the government, judiciary, software vendors and

the channel.”

Campbell further added, “Microsoft has been working closely with channel

partners to educate them on the economic and legal benefits of original

software. Roadshows and events that articulate the value of original software

are held regu­larly and various programs are designed to encourage partners who

sell original software.”

Microsoft sends monthly newsletters to provide the channel partners with a

greater understanding of products, programs, events and launches. Additionally,

it is collaborating with various channel associa­tions to curb piracy.

Campbell felt that customers also have begun to appreciate the value of

original software, and the way they use it can make a difference. “By

undertaking the initiative to provide original software online and through

telephone, we have been able to reach out to over 1,068 Indian cities. We are

running the 'Value of Original' campaign across media aimed at educating

consumers on the benefits of original software,” he added.

New initiatives



In order to provide easy accessibility of software Microsoft recently

launched www.buyoriginalms.com for original Microsoft products including

Windows, Office, Server, Xbox, games and gaming accessories.

Another initiative that the vendor has begun is Microsoft's Get Genuine

Solution (GGS) that enables SMBs to legalize their counterfeit or unlicensed

Windows XP Professional PCs. Valid for a limited period of time in India, China,

Brazil and Russia, GGS is a solution for businesses that want to legalize

Windows XP licenses through Microsoft's reseller partners.

“It is our endeavor to work with IT associations and partners to drive

awareness for piracy as an issue and towards curbing this menace. We are

partnering with industry bodies, including Nasscom, BSA and CII to reiterate the

message on the value of original software. We are continually making investments

to protect our legitimate channel partners, system builders and OEMs, and their

customers, against those who compete unfairly by selling or distributing illegal

software and compo­nents,” Campbell added.

Subbalakshmi BM





subbalakshmibm@cybermedia.co.in

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