Microsoft has publicly shamed a long list of computer retailers which were flogging PCs with Windows pre-installed without paying for it.
Most OEMs have licensing deals with the software giant where they pay a small fee to install Windows on every box they sell which may add up to a few pounds per unit, certainly nothing like the retail price a normal punter would pay.
The problem is, there is a growing number of independent retailers, generally situated in out-of-the-way locations, who will custom build you a PC to order at a very competitive price. And it seems that one of the reasons they can afford to undercut PC World and their other superstore rivals is that they don't see the need to splash cash in Redmond's direction in order to install the world's favourite operating system. Until they get collared, that is.
Microsoft's dogs of law have obviously been fighting a concerted campaign against the back-street pirates of late, as they have just published a list of 25 outfits which were caught red-handed knocking out PCs pre-loaded with Windows, but with no install disks in sight.
Of the 21 retail outfits and four eBay merchants, six were based in Birmingham and five were from Liverpool, which has led to Microsoft branding the areas as 'piracy hotspots' according to CRN Channelweb, which has a full list of the offending outfits.