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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.

Désiré Athow
Désiré Athow

Désiré has been musing and writing about technology during a career spanning four decades. He dabbled in website building and web hosting when DHTML and frames were en vogue and started writing about the impact of technology on society just before the start of the Y2K hysteria at the turn of the last millennium. Following an eight-year stint at ITProPortal.com where he discovered the joys of global tech-fests, Désiré now heads up TechRadar Pro. Previously he was a freelance technology journalist at Incisive Media, Breakthrough Publishing and Vnunet, and Business Magazine. He also launched and hosted the first Tech Radio Show on Radio Plus.