Piracy costs a billion pounds a year

Research from IDC and the Business Software Alliance claims to show that piracy in the UK was around 27 per cent over the last year, equating to a theoretical loss of a billion pounds a year.

Er, pardon? Do the guys at the BSA live in the real world? Do they really think that the home pirate will actually pay 200 quid for that copy of Adobe Creative Suite 2?

Of course not.

I remember talking about piracy with WordPerfect's big cheeses in the late 1980s - before the company sold out to Corel - when WP charged an astonishing 300 quid for its software.

The firm cheerfully admitted that it knew about 75 per cent of its users were using pirated software, but also said they ad done theirsums and were better off getting £295 on a one in four basis, rather than chopping the price of £79 and getting more legitimate copies sold.

Now, of course, you can buy copies of MS-Word in bargain bins at PC World for around £30. And the pirated version of that are rife on the Internet and amongst home users.

Er, allegedly...

My own view is that Microsoft should copy WordPerfect's example of a decade ago and offer two versions of its Office software - one for home users with nil support for a sensible £29.95 price tag, and a business version at the normal price, but with full support.

Obviously home users could elect to pay £15.00 per incident for hand-holding support if they really need to talk through their problems, as Symantec does for it Norton IT security software support, and I think most users would be happy to pay.

But at £100-plus for a copy of MS-Office, it's no wonder piracy is so rife in the home/small office marketplace...

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