Chinese are facing a grave threat from the software giant, Microsoft. MS has apparently started a crackdown on pirated softwares in China. The “Windows Genuine Advantage” program, which turns the user’s screen black if the installed software fails a validation test, is making rounds in China.
Anyone can guess what would be the reaction of the Chinese; rage, fury and mayhem. A country with more than 200 million active Windows users, China will suffer badly as majority of the people – like other developing nations – use pirated softwares. In fact, China is the hub of piracy.
Although MS deserves the right to exercise its intellectual property rights in any shape, this action looks rather ‘insulting’. Drives against the counterfeit softwares should target the supply chain and not the end-users. More often then not, they are either unaware of the legalities or simply can’t afford to pay bucketful of dollars for a software which is readily available at 50 cents or less.
Chinese high-ranking officials have also taken the same stance. Although they haven’t repudiated the move, still they are wary of the methods used by MS. They think that the company is overreacting on this issue. Yan Xiaohong, Vice-Director of National Copyright Administration said,
“Whether the ‘black-out’ method should be adopted is open to question. Measures for safeguarding rights also need to be appropriate.”
Common folks on the other hand are planning big stuff. A lawyer wants to sue the company for $1 billion.
The move might also threaten the monopoly of Windows in China as users can turn to Linux. The price factor will definitely play its role as genuine Windows software is still out of reach of an average Chinese (though now they claim to be in the ranks of developed countries).
One commenter wrote on ZDNet,
They might generate a little more money in licenses, but, lose the bigger battle to keep China mainly on windows. They need to make sure that people do not chose Linux because they can not afford Windows. Once they get used to Linux, they will not go back to Windows, free or paid.
MS will make more losses than profit, if, it stands firm on this decision. Piracy can only be quashed if the original softwares are available at economical rates. Otherwise, the software giants will continue facing counterfeiting issues, even if they cut the supply chains. I think it’s high time that these companies along with the representatives from the piracy-infested countries work on a viable and practical solution to this problem. We’re waiting for that for a long time now.