26 August 2008

The Star Online: ‘Blackouts’ for users of pirated Windows


*sigh* Lost the posting I mentioned in mOAm's 'Interrupted Mark Musing Multiplied' musing. Anyhow, I seem to have the interest to re-do this concurrent posting on Multiply Mark & mOAm. So, here goes:

The above link is the for the article below, which I just read on The Star Online website. It's tagged as a 'latest' news.

Tuesday August 26, 2008 MYT 8:16:36 PM

‘Blackouts’ for users of pirated Windows


PETALING JAYA: Starting Wednesday, users with pirated copies of Microsoft Corp's Windows XP Professional operating system (OS) on machines that are Internet-capable could find their computer displays going black and with no screen icons visible.

There are 8.6 million users of Win XP Pro in Malaysia and about three million are expected to suffer the “blackouts,” according to Microsoft Malaysia.

To continue working, the user would need to reset the machine’s desktop background. Everything will return to normal. But when 60 minutes are up, the black screen will reappear and the user must go through the whole process again.

This will keep happening until the user licenses the copy of Win XP Pro on the machine by going to a Microsoft reseller or getting a licence online at the www.microsoft.com/malaysia/genuine. Each licence costs RM580.

This initiative is part of Microsoft’s antipiracy campaign, dubbed Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA), aimed at educating users on the benefits of using genuine software, K.T. Ng, Microsoft Malaysia’s director of client business group, told The Star on Tuesday.

Win XP Professional was chosen for the antipiracy blitz because it is the most pirated version of Microsoft’s Win XP operating system. The other version is Windows XP Home, which is for home users.

This is the second time that Microsoft is needling users of pirated copies of its operating system to go legitimate. Two years ago, it sprang its WGA initiative on local users of Win XP Pro and Win XP Home.

That time, a pop-up message showed up whenever the PC with a pirated Windows OS was switched on, with the intention of shaming business and home users into getting legitimate copies. The message said “This copy of Windows is not genuine.”

It was quite successful. At that time, there were about 5.1 million pirated copies of Windows XP Pro and after the exercise, about two million of the copies were validated, said Microsoft Malaysia.

“We are encouraged by that response,” said Ng. "So this time, we have escalated the penalty to a black screen that reappears every hour until the user validates his or her copy of Win XP Pro.”

Datuk Badlisham Ghazali, chief executive officer of Multimedia Development Corporation (MDeC), lauded the WGA campaign.

MDeC is caretaker of the country’s MSC Malaysia initiative, which is working to build up the nation’s knowledge economy.

“MDeC respects the rights of companies to protect their intellectual property. It’s a reminder that software piracy doesn’t pay, especially when Malaysians are themselves putting a lot of effort into creating original software,” he said.

Not clear
Several users and industry pundits that The Star spoke to believe Microsoft is using its WGA campaign to herd business users into upgrading to its newest operating system, Windows Vista, which hasn’t garnered interest among companies because of its higher hardware requirements.

“Microsoft has stopped selling Win XP in the market, so you have to wonder why it is spending time and money to take down users of pirated copies of this OS,” said a PC user, who asked for anonymity. “Why isn’t it also targeting users who have pirated copies of Windows Vista?”

“So if I’m using a pirated copy of Vista at this time, I won’t be hassled? Got to wonder about that.”

Ng replied that the concern now is XP Pro, which is widely pirated. “Vista isn’t pirated as much. WGA is continuous and should there be a Vista piracy problem, we will address it down the road,” he said.

My thoughts on this article is that it's possibly a marketing ploy disguised as an anti-piracy drive. I mean, it's known that the acceptance rate for Windows Vista ain't that great (even I am still using a genuine Windows XP Home edition). Next I suspect Microsoft would be going after pirated Office suites.

I generally support the need for purchasing genuine copies of software. However, I tend to agree too that for private non-profit educational purposes, it is possibly acceptable. Locally, the prices of software somewhat mirrors it's real price sold in USA, UK or Europe. Heck, that means it's like between 3 to 7 times the price in numerical values there, when we convert it to it's real value for the sake of selling it at the same prices. Many just cannot afford it & yet, we want to have an IT literate community. What is sad that even local software developers tend to price their software based on these foreign market prices.

To combat bootlegs, something must give in. Software maker cannot expect people paying what is deemed to be a premium amount & be happy. In UK, I may earn GBP3k per month & I can not mind paying for a Windows XP Home that cost like GBP60. However, a local earning RM3k per month would definitely mind paying for a Windows XP Home that cost say, RM420. Can we see the differential here? It's no wonder bootlegs of Windows XP Home selling for RM30 are thriving. I am not saying it's right, but it must be in context. Charge like half of it's real value based on overseas prices, perhaps that will help. The music industry did it & it worked to a fair degree. Perhaps with such carrots, education consumers on the pitfalls of piracy will succeed.

On a final note, I'd like to congratulate Anwat... opps, Anwar Ibrahim on your victory in the Permatang Pauh by-election, as mentioned in this other The Star Online news article. I hope that with this, we the rakyat will not suffer i.e. roadblocks, from you crossing swords with political enemies. Sceptically, I hope you are the saviour some people described you as.

Till later, live long & prosper.

1 comment:

  1. hmm.. excuse me bro... GBp3k meaning you'll probably be taxed around35%.. So, you're probably left with around 1.8k or something like that.. minus the expenses and others, you'll probably be left with around GBp800. hmm... cheap? I don't know. I only know monopoly is no good..