As part of a comprehensive effort to address piracy of its products, Microsoft today announced that the company will increase efforts against piracy and outlined new steps being taken to protect Windows Vista from ongoing and known counterfeiting threats. The upcoming Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1) will include updates that target and disable two types of known exploits to the Windows Vista activation process. Also, as part of SP1, the company is making changes in how it differentiates user experiences for genuine and counterfeit systems based on feedback from customers and partners.
To learn more about what Microsoft is doing to address the challenge of software piracy and how the Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) program is evolving, PressPass spoke with Mike Sievert, Corporate Vice President, Windows Product Marketing.
PressPass: What kind of progress has the company made against software piracy? How big a problem is it for Microsoft and the industry as a whole?
Sievert: While we’ve made some progress, piracy remains an ongoing problem that faces most industries with strong intellectual property components, and is particularly severe for us, our customers and partners. Software pirates are becoming more sophisticated – not just with their ability to produce high-quality fakes, but in their distribution systems and international reach. Research from the Business Software Alliance (BSA) estimates that annually, 35 percent of software in use worldwide is not paid for, and in certain countries that rate can top 80 percent.
We have to address this. We have a responsibility to our shareholders, partners and customers to promote legal use of our products.
The good news is we are starting to see some progress. This past quarter, we reported that about five percent of Windows desktop OEM revenue growth was attributable to piracy declines. In the last year alone, we have pursued legal action against more than 1,000 dealers of counterfeit Microsoft products, taken down more than 50,000 illegal and improper online software auctions and reached out with our “How to Tell” and anti-piracy focused educational Web sites to millions of customers. While piracy rates are hard to measure precisely, we’re seeing indications from internal metrics, like WGA validation failures, that the Windows Vista piracy rate is less than half that of Windows XP today.