Chinese govt stomps on software pirates

Microsoft has announced it has been working with the FBI and China's Public Security Bureau to crack a major software counterfeiting ring.

According to Microsoft, a series of raids and arrests over the last few weeks has resulted in the closure of a major software piracy operation thought to to have been responsible for around $2 billion worth of counterfeit software in recent years.

That's a lot of software, even at pirate prices, although I suspect that Microsoft is being a bit generous with its pricing assessments.

The scale of the piracy ring, located in Southern China, is quite large, however, with counterfeit versions of Windows Vista and XP, Office 2003 and 2007, as well as Windows Server, being produced in at least eight languages: Croatian, Dutch, English, German, Italian, Korean, Simplified Chinese and Spanish.

Incredibly, as part of the investigation, around 55,000 high quality pirate copies were traced back to the Guandong piracy ring and, newswire reports say, this is only a small fraction of the number of pirated editions of Microsoft software being shipped by the ring each year.

The figures are breath-taking, but go a long way towards explaining how some outlets have been able to offer Microsoft software at around 30 to 40 per cent of the official price.

I've seen some of this software myself in Manchester's Chinatown, where one dealer was hawking Windows Vista for £49.95 earlier this year - and the copy really looked legit too, although, at the price it couldn't have been genuine.

Anyway, I digress - I think you can expect the price of Microsoft software over on eBay to to rise shortly, owing to a shortage in the supply chain. Or am I just being cynical?

Mind you, I dread to think what the Chinese government will do with the pirates once they're banged up in clink - maybe get them dancing to Queen in their orange jump suits - see here...