How Piracy helps Microsoft against Open source

Piracy has always been the "bête noire" of Microsoft and the other members of the Business Software Alliance (BSA), even more than Open source. Microsoft, on its own, estimates to have lost nearly $100 billion to piracy in the last decade.

In an article called "How Piracy Opens Doors for Windows", Charles Piller explores the controversial and often unknown links between Piracy and Microsoft.

I felt somewhat uneasy reading the article for several reasons. The first is that some say that Microsoft is deliberately using Piracy as a way to get its software widely distributed and marketed - a law professor even argues that using Piracy is a business model by accident and design. It seems that the more expensive the software, the more popular it becomes.

I was even more uneasy when Hal Varian compared Microsoft's anti-piracy policy to street-corner marketing of illicit drugs. “The first dose is free” he says and once you start using a product, you get hooked on it. With zero investment, Microsoft has been able to train people to use its software and guess what is the number one obstacle to open source in homes and offices? The end-user's inertia.

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