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Unlicensed software is present on 24 per cent of PCs in the UK

While across the rest of the globe, the amount of unlicensed software on PCs has increased, in the UK it has actually dropped slightly – from 27 per cent of computers in 2008, to 24 per cent in 2013.

The rest of the world has seen quite the reverse of a 3 per cent drop – in fact, unlicensed software usage is up 7 per cent across the globe on average, according to these stats which come from the BSA Global Software Survey (conducted by IDC over 34 territories, encompassing some 22,000 consumer and business PC users and over 2,000 IT managers).

BSA notes that the figures reflect the massive growth in the tablet market which is cannibalising new PC shipments – with the fact that the installed base of tablets is now half the size of the PC user base in the UK helping to push levels of counterfeit software down.

Alyna Cope, chair of the BSA UK Committee, commented: "We are extremely pleased with the progress seen in the UK over the past two years, particularly as the UK rate had been stagnant for some time before."

"However, there are still 50.5 million PCs in use in the UK and nearly a quarter of the programmes installed on these PCs last year were unlicensed with a commercial value of £1.2 billion. This indicates that computer users shouldn't be complacent about software licensing, and underscores the need for effective software management practices, especially in business settings."

The survey produced some other interesting nuggets of info, including the fact that only 37 per cent of UK companies have written policies that specify the use of properly licensed software. Those companies who do use unlicensed software are of course at risk from malware threats, and the report pointed out that there's a 33 per cent chance of encountering malware from dodgy software packages. When it comes to businesses as opposed to consumers, the security risks are obviously multiplied in terms of the data at stake.

Perhaps most worryingly of all, of the IT managers questioned, less than half said they were "very confident" that their firm's software was properly licensed, even though they were concerned about the security issues this could cause.