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Microsoft engages IT Channel association to counter software piracy

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DQW Bureau
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Anil Varghese, Director-Original Software Initiative, Microsoft India in an interaction with Muntazir Abbas, gives an insight into Microsoft's seriousness and

initiatives to check software piracy in the country.

What are the initiatives of Microsoft at grass root levels to discourage software piracy?

Software piracy is an industry-wide problem that has significant impact on the economy and affects legitimate businesses that have to compete with those selling pirated and counterfeit software. Today, software piracy is one of the biggest threats to the growing software product industry in India.

Software Piracy Rates and Losses: According to the Seventh Annual BSA and IDC Global Software Piracy Study, piracy levels in India dropped to 65 percent in the year 2009 from 68 percent in 2008, a total drop of nine percent since 2004. The losses caused by software piracy continue to remain above $ two billion for India. According to a study by BSA, The Economic Benefits of Lowering PC Software Piracy 2008, a ten point reduction in PC software piracy would deliver an additional 44,000 new jobs, $200 million in tax revenues, and $3.1 billion in economic growth of India.

How serious is the nature of software piracy and what are the threats to PC?

Obtaining and using pirated and counterfeit software can pose a serious PC security threat to organizations, individuals and governments. Often, counterfeit or pirated software is embedded with malicious and dangerous codes and programs that can lead to a corrupted system, unauthorized intrusion, a loss of confidential data, hacking of online bank accounts, lack of control over the computer, identity theft etc. Consumers spending millions each year on pirated copies unsuspectingly end up financing cyber criminals and organized crime syndicates in generation of illegal money. This threatens the integrity of the software industry and the security of home, business and government computer systems.

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Please highlight the Microsoft's initiatives. And how important is your reseller and partner ecosystem in such programs?

As an industry leader, Microsoft has an obligation to help its partners and delivers a positive customer experience from genuine software. Microsoft has adopted a focused approach on education, engineering and enforcement to counter and prevent piracy. The endeavor is to work with customers, businesses and partners to drive awareness for piracy as an issue and to educate them on how they can work towards minimizing this menace. Access to original software is one of the most critical elements to reduce piracy in India. Microsoft has undertaken the initiative to provide original software online and telephonically, to ensure easy availability and is also educating discerning consumers about the value of original software. With respect to enforcement, Microsoft ensures a level playing field for all its system builder partners. Microsoft is determined to protect its customer, reseller and partner ecosystem from the threat and losses associated with piracy. Microsoft is also to prevent counterfeiters from taking advantage of innocent victims and gaining an unfair advantage over our honest partners.

What are the key anti-piracy initiatives undertaken by Microsoft?

Some of the major anti-piracy initiatives of Microsoft include.

Telephonic availability: With key aggregators in the top eight cities (five metros plus Pune, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad), customers can call-in and get FPP (retail packs) delivered to their home/office. As a result, Microsoft's original software is available across 1068 Indian cities. Customers can pay for their software through credit card, cheque, draft or wallet365.

Microsoft eCommerce Platform: The portal, www.microsoftstore.co.in, is a one-stop shop for all Microsoft FPP (retail packs) products, including Windows 7, Office, servers, XBox and games. In the long term, it aims to empower smaller businesses with ease of licensing the software they use and essentially purchase in relation to their expansion needs. Volume licenses of Microsoft are also available on this platform and a tie up with ICICI bank and Skypak enables easy payment options and free cheque pick up facility across 52 cities in the country.

Get Genuine Solution (GGS): Microsoft's GGS is valid for Windows 7 and is a practical solution available to SMB customers who wish to legalize licenses on Open License agreements through Microsoft resellers.

What are the channel awareness programs?

Regular updates on new product launches — Microsoft holds regular events to assist its channel partners in understanding and addressing customer queries on new products. Microsoft sends monthly newsletters to channel to provide them with a greater understanding of products, programs, events, launches and the value of original, as well as on how they can upsell to their customers and service their requirements better.

The company is working with various channel associations like TAIT, Confed-ITA, COMPASS, SITA, PCAIT etc against the menace of piracy by promoting the value of genuine and creating a clean, safe and healthy and honest reseller ecosystem.

Microsoft also has a Partners Resource Center that contains all the information on Microsoft's Value of Original campaign. There are two distinct identifiable features that a consumer must keep in mind to ascertain the authenticity of the operating system in the PC — one is the Certificate of Authenticity (COA) and the second is the edge-to-edge hologram CD.

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What is Software Asset Management (SAM)?

Software Asset Management (SAM): SAM is a method of taking the customer through streamlining his software expenses and reaching the optimal software configuration based on the size of the organization. Through SAM, Microsoft's aim is to inculcate among organizations the respect for original software and regard for Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) that impacts upon India's credibility as a knowledge hub.

Windows Activation Technologies: These are technologies that help users differentiate between original and counterfeit software and help in validations and activation of original software.

Office Genuine Advantage (OGA): Customers can volunteer to participate in this online program by accepting an automatic notification. Customers can then validate their Microsoft Office software and make instant purchase of genuine Office through an online purchase.

Can you give some insight on the consumer-oriented educational and enforcement program?

Consumer Action Day: Microsoft recently announced the launch of new consumer led education and enforcement initiative to reduce the menace of piracy in the country, on the basis of the voluntarily submitted consumer reports on piracy. The move aims to protect consumers from the risks and perils of pirated/counterfeit software and to educate, enable and empower consumers to fight and reject piracy by reporting instances of software piracy. Since January, 2009, over 2000 complaints were received by Microsoft India while globally there were 150,000 reports.

The counterfeit software market is apparently thriving at the places like Nehru Place, Palika Bazaar and Wazirpur in Delhi. What is the level of support from sub-distributors and resellers as well as local police and administration?

Under Microsoft-channel association engagement programs, we hold seminars, sponsor them and participate in various channel events. Through these events, we educate and spread awareness in the reseller community on the perils of piracy, risks associated with usage and distribution of pirated/counterfeit software. With PCAIT (Nehru Place based channel association), we have a long relation and would continue to engage with them in the fight against piracy and safeguarding the interest of genuine reseller community, in the ultimate interest of our customers. Our primary focus is on preventing our software from being pirated so that the honest reseller community remains protected and that the respect for our intellectual property is maintained across India.

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