Microsoft have let it be known that they know that at least 22.3% of the copies of Windows in use in the world are not purchased.
They’ve been compiling stats on this using Microsoft’s Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) program since July 2005.
Initially WGA only used to be called upon when users of the Windows OS want to update their software. The most frequent reason for updates is when Microsoft needs to ship software patches to their OS or applications due to them being buggy and hackers having exploited holes in it.
Since June 2006, it’s been clear that a change to the WGA, is that it’s been contacting Microsoft without the users permission or knowledge, passing on information. This news of “phoning home” was met with accusations of Microsoft shipping spyware … and countered by software developers by the creation of removeWGA.
We know where you live
Given Microsoft knows where most of those people are – via their IP address that they were using when they did the downloads – it’s interesting that they haven’t acted on the information. Perhaps they figured that knocking on the door of dead grannies demanding compensation, as others have done, wasn’t good PR.
The real figure of pirated copies is likely to be far higher than the 22.3% figure quoted, as it’s only the innocent/daft who would let their computer tell Microsoft that they are using a piece a software they bought from the bloke at the car boot sale for a fiver.
Why release this news now?
With the arrival of Microsoft Vista on the 30 January, it pays Microsoft well to let people know how hard done by they are, giving them all the more reason to promote the security features that come with Vista.
It’s doubtful many will shed a tear for Microsoft given how outrageously profitable the company is. Perhaps we should run a competition to see just how many people are crying about this one?