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MS Attempt to Find Pirated Software Fails Miserably 458

Anonymous Coward writes "Microsoft set up an outdoor booth outside San Francisco City Hall yesterday offering to trade free licensed MS software for pirated versions. The only visitor they got was the guy picketing to have Clinton impeached for treason against 12 galaxies." Here's the SF Chronicle story about the "event." Read it and weep. Or laugh. (You choose.)
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MS Attempt to Find Pirated Software Fails Miserably

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Microsoft has filed law suits againts 160 computer sellers in the last year alone!!

    What if you are one of these computer sellers and you get sued by MS. Before you even make to court you have two problems:

    1) You have legal fees to pay.
    2) You no longer get legal copies of Windows at competitive OEM prices.

    In other words, MS can sue any company they want out of business , whether or not they are doing something illegal.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Oh give me a break, this reason makes me want to throw up. Piracy is caused by the fact that people know their will be no recourse for their act of stealing. Software piracy, no matter how you look at it, is fundamentally stealing. I agree prices are high, but I also think the price of a lexus is high too, doesn't mean I'm going to go steal one. Its the same thing, this excuse is a lame front. Even if the price of software dropped by 50%, the amount of piracy would remain constant.
  • by pen ( 7191 )
    Even the dongle wouldn't prevent piracy. All that stuff can be easily cracked by anyone knowledgeable enough...


  • If companies like Adobe and MS slased prices, then these goons would have to drop theirs, which isn't something they can reasonably do while keeping up a front of "respectability".

    I agree that this is the right way to go, but people have a natural tendancy to resist this.

    Consider that this exact same argument is used in support of the decriminalising and legalising of hard drugs (ie. to stop the pushers and makers from being profitable). It hasn't got very far there, just like I think it won't get very far with software.

    Which is why I believe that free software is the only solution, and why I just don't concern myself with non-free software anymore, as much as possible.
  • Ok, lets say piracy is stopped cold turkey, and lets further say that 18000 new jobs are created over night. The US government goes oh no! We are having too much growth! And boom, we are in another economic recession...and 180,000 people are put out of work. Now _that's_ productive.
  • No because I'd then feel sorry for whatever it was.
  • Not to pick on renegade187 (his is just the first visible reply to this um, subthread, given my current set of viewing preferences, so I replied here for visibility and clarity)...

    Everybody who replies to stuff like this effectively negates the work of the moderators by making large segments of the thread leap into visibility; I'm sure nobody wants to spend moderation points downgrading replies of varying intelligence and humor because the original poster was an idiot. And so we end up with a big string of off-topic score:1 and score:0 (unmoderated reg users and ACs, respectively) posts telling this guy off.

    Sure, he deserves it. And I bet it felt good too, especially those of you who came up with clever retorts. But IMHO it's not worth it if the rest of us then have to wade through dozens of posts having nothing to do with the original topic. People like this will generally disappear quietly if we don't rise to the bait, and in the meantime the moderators help make it easier for us all to ignore them and keep /. a useful resource.
  • Businesses buy site licenses. They certainly don't pay the retail box price per seat. Plus, $500 is a trivial amount of money compared to the other expenses of having an employee who sits at a keyboard. They would easily absorb costs twice or three times that for switching to any other software (retraining and data conversion).
  • That doesn't mean Linux is crap. It just means lots of software is lacking (although this is changing).

    It still doesn't make Linux garbage. It just doesn't fit what you do. Yet.
    we have a winner.

    And I bet that most people who have tried pirated software found that it did not live up to the claims of the company that was hocking it.

  • > The Solow paradox says that computers don't seem to add anything to the productivity
    > statistics. That either means computers aren't as useful as we think, or the
    > statistics are wrong.

    Or could it mean that the standards are rising? I haven't read the material in question, though it sounds interesting, but I know that a lot of times, when capacity to produce increases, demand for production increases at twice the rate.

    Also, it could be due to improper use of the resources. In the $VBC I work for, we manage to get rid of any time-saving benefit of computers by a). layering the whole process around with procedures, rules, forms, etc, and b). NOT using the capability of the computing resources that we have at /all/. Were I allowed, I could automate a good 80% of my job with a few perl scripts, but quite frankly my bosses are frightened of technology... so I'm left doing data entry and manually counting things. I need a more technical job before I explode...
  • Propaganda ?
    Heh, it is now considered propaganda to educate people about law ?
    It is still illegal to pirate software, isn't ?

  • Warez is more prevalent in business then you might imagine. I've been in environments where nearly everything installed was illegal. Copied CDs were passed around freely, stuff was posted on internal web servers for distribution, etc...

    Piracy is a serious issue. Estimates on the impact of piracy on the industry are more accurate than most of us know (or want to admit.)
  • Sorry, not all windows users are ID10T's, consequently, not all ID10T's are windows users...
  • can we ban this bastard by his ip?

    And what happens when he dials up on a different IP? Besides, whatever happened to free speech? You shouldn't stop him from speaking, you should stop listening.

    Which prompted me to think of a neat idea. Previously Rob's said to set your threshold up to weed out the twits. Problem is that sometimes you then miss out reasonable stuff that's sitting on score 1 or 2.

    Better would be to have an extra option which is a kill file, where you can list the nicks or uids of people you never ever want to read stuff from. Kindof like a /ignore for /. :) Then you can just add the fools to there. Also should have an option to truncate the discussion tree at their posts, so you can't see the bun-fight that occurs after their post.

    Then we just have to get ESR to put Bruce Perens in his, and Bruce to put ESR in his, and maybe then slashdot wouldn't explode when one of them posts a story or comment... :) :) :)
  • Must it be ALL? OR would people with a WORKING *nix partition or *nix IPMasq/Proxy setup be exempt?
  • Have any of those 12 galaxies started anti-Monopoly (I'll be the car, thank you) proceedings against MS? DOJ may want to leverage their work. The fact that there are many hungry mouths to feed on planet Xorthnanc in the X12R34 galaxy and no decent software programmer can make a living writing Xorthanc-OS, despite the fact that no Redmond programmers have tentacles and can taste blue, may have some bearing on the DOJ case.


  • > Truthfully, I think there are some genuinely pro-Microsoft
    > folks lurking here.

    I don't know about anyone else, but when I'm moderating, I don't take personal opinion into account. It seems to me that modpoints are not for promoting a personal agenda, but for pointing out reasonable, well-constructed comments. I have in the past moderated up sentiments with which I did not necessarily agree, but which seemed to me to be important or well-reasoned. I've been reading /. long enough to recognize the most common group biases, and I'm almost tempted to moderate unpopular opinions first as long as they meet my criteria -- just because it's less likely that they would be moderated up by someone else, and I feel that both/all sides of the discussion should be heard. It's important to me to see well-rounded discussion, or we're just all sitting here AOL'ing "Me too!"s all evening.
  • In any/every unfair/uncompetitive market a grey/black market will emerge to address the discontinuities between supply and demand, cost and value.

  • I've known a lot of tech support people who've wished software licenses did work that way - that is, that users had to pass a test before they were allowed to use the software...
  • Well, prove it's garbage. What's that? YES! You'll actually have to THINK about ACTUALLY USING IT!!!

    But until you do, go away. And don't come back.

    You've enlightened us to nothing except your stupidity.
  • The lost tax revenue concept really pisses me off. The money that isn't spent on software isn't being thrown away is it? That money is being spent on other things, and probably (gasp) creating other jobs.

  • Ever stopped to wonder just how many people would own Micros~1 Office 97 if there weren't any illegal software out there?
    Of course Microsoft doesn't mind pirating, because it means people get their software for free. You get Windows 98 for free, and then decide to BUY Office 97. You wouldn't have bought Office if you didn't already have Windows.
    Granted, of course they'd rather we all paid for the software, more money to them, but they understand the economics. Better to "give away" a free OS and then charge a packet for the applications.

    Of course, I'd be more inclined to pay AU$150 for Linux, and AU$5 for Windows, but that's just a pipedream.

    "Only now, at the end, do you understand..."
  • The problem is... I bet most people don't know if they're sold a pirated Microsoft product.

    It would be much easier to buy a copy from everyone who's selling windows and check out the product.
  • I think you have missed that fact that all those pirated copies are being used by people. MS DOS was/is about the most pirated software in the World, but all those copies also gave MSFT market share. The same it true with win95 and NT, take away all thoes pirated copies from 89 on and we would live in a very different World.

    Anyone who belives that companies don't cook the books when it come to priated software and loss ROI is a fool.
  • You claim that illegal copying of software hurts the employees of microsoft. Even if this statement is true, it does not immediately follow that illegal copying of software is morally bad.

    Let me illustrate with an example. Suppose you are living in pre-Civil-War US, where slavery is legal. Illegally helping someone else's slaves escape does in fact hurt the plantation owner. Does this fact alone mean that it is bad to illegally help slaves escape? No. Nearly everyone nowadays agrees that the law was wrong, and that slavery should never be allowed. Even if it does help some people (plantation owners), it hurts other people more (slaves).

    You may have a different opinion, but I am completely convinced that current copyright law in the US hurts consumers more than it helps producers, and as such is a bad law that ought to be changed for the better.

  • Who the hell's idea was that? If It was billy's, I no longer have any reason not to break in and steal a million. He wont even notice :)
  • You make easy-to-copy bits and sell them for hundreds of dollars then you have to expect that some people are going to copy them without paying. It's a cost of doing business. For the most part, the people who are your core market are happy to pay because they need and use your software and so they don't question its value. Take the money and run, don't stand around complaining that somebody's running Office in their basement 10 times a year to do things they would have done with Wordpad or something if they hadn't got a copy of Office from Joe.

    For some people, a particular app is worth $20, and for others it's worth $1000. If you price it at $200, you're just not going to get any sales from the guy who only thinks it's worth $20, whether he uses it or not. You can't count those folks and say you lost $200 for each one.

    Where did I see a chart that showed this kind of thing? ESR's site?

    Even the best Y2K estimates predict that there will be lots of annoying little problems. Add those to the lots of annoying little problems Windows has already made computers famous for, combine with the fact that the gov't is suing the biggest and best known shrinkwrap maker for allegedly being the biggest assholes ever to take a meeting and you'd think that the software industry would really want to avoid getting into anyone's face right now.

    This is like the "no lending" clause that appeared on CD's a while back. You just make yourself look like a greedy bastard in a situation where goodwill and a dialog with your users will get you much greater returns. If you please them, they will pay.
  • Why is this story posted on slashdot? Is it simply to provide people with a forum to make snide remarks about Microsoft? Aren't there enough legitimate opportunities to do that already?

    We posted it just to piss you off. No other reason.

    We hired a psychological consultant to draw up a profile of konstant so that we could determine which stories would make him go berserk.

    Smile for the camera.

  • In front of the Microsoft booth?
    Think their monopoly has really grown that big yet?
  • from the article:
    The companies weren't there to throw violators
    in the slammer but would have exchanged genuine software for illegal copies. Then the illegal programs would serve as evidence to hunt down the real perpetrators -- the people who actually copied and sold the software.

    maybe that's the problem... people *know* they are pirating software ;o)

    how would they really "hunt down" the perpetrators? traced registration numbers to the original person that registered the program??
  • by pen ( 7191 )
    ... says he, with the subject "..."


  • At the risk of responding to yet another troll, I refuse to admit that IE is a good product (in any of a number of senses of the word "good"). Unfortunately, neither is most of its competition... for the moment.

    I've begun using mozilla more and more regularly due to the fact that Netscape on Linux is a piece of trash, and I just don't like using lynx for all my browsing.

    When I started to really pick Mozilla apart (especially under the hood) I realized that in a few months Microsoft will have finally lost their browser war. Adobe will lose massive "market share" to the GIMP within the next year, even on the Win32/64 platforms.

    And, to top it off, I was playing with the most recent build of Win2k at a friend's house, alongside an NT4.0 machine. To tell the truth, I couldn't tell which was which (other than the "Win 2000 build number ...." at the corner of the screen). The biggest improvement I could see was that windows minimize really quickly -- they still start up slow as dogshit through a panty, and the disks still sound like someone is testing a cache-busting head scheduler on them everytime you access the file system.

    Leading me (along with the exponential-feeling progress of the major linux distros and GNU software in the past year) to comment more than once to people that "Microsoft is in trouble.".

    Fact of the matter is, IMNSHO, within 2 years they will be falling back upon the Office Suite which was their foot in the door for so many years. Whatever the outcome of the court case, it will be moot,as many predicted -- but not for the reasons they predicted. People thought that Microsoft would be penalized too late for issues (like the bundling of IE) that would be unimportant. Instead, the outcome of the case will be moot because Microsoft is already on the downhill slope of a long and steep descent into ruin.

    ...and it makes me happy to think about it.

  • (I start all posts with the subject "hrm...")

    Wow. I think the most effective weapons against software piracy are:
    a) Lower prices
    b) Incentive to purchase (make the customer feel worth it)
    and finally,
    c) Software coded on punchcards that are 3 feet by 5 feet.

    But that should apply for all companies. Maybe if they were to focus more on fighting software piracy on-line. I bet many of the folks present upon the street had little experience with software piracy... in that case, Microsoft should have focused more on the education of the public, instead of trying to acquire pirated software.

    Ah well, life goes on in Redmond.

  • by solios ( 53048 )
    Why is it that people have an alarming tendency to leave the caps key on when they're being idiots? Is this some sort of "my member is bigger than yours" mating ritual? Combine that with an alarming tendency to misuse numbers and really, really bad punctuation (we all misspell from time to time, but really...)- and being taken as anything other than a chronicly pissed off six year old who needs a spanking is going to be very, very difficult.

    More importantly:
    Why do poeple pirate software?
    There are, from my experience, three types of "pirates", if you will:

    1. Warez D00dz. Enough said. These are the sort of people that use pirated software because they think they're cool. So what if your average flamer has 3dsMax, True Space, Illustrator, Quark, etc. on his hard drive? Odds are it's only to impress his friends and the applications get little to no use. These people have enough trouble typing- their artistic capability is more than likely lacking. I'm sorry, but you could have every program ever and you're still not going to impress me. I'm more impressed by my roommates- one has rewritten LiteStep into a respectable GUI and the other has created the Max Script from Hell and is doing high-profile freelance for a big company. And he hasn't even graduated yet.

    2. High-end criminals. The fly-by-nighters who sell the stuff for cheap at trade expos and in the back of catalogues, on ebay, or web sites, etceteras. These people usually have the resources to fabricate the packaging, and are going to charge you a fairly reasonable amount of cash for the goods. What the software should be priced to begin with, IMHO. If companies like Adobe and MS slased prices, then these goons would have to drop theirs, which isn't something they can reasonably do while keeping up a front of "respectability".

    3. The "Morally Ambiguous", or Rational Anarchists, if you will. These are the sort of people who have legal copies of the stuff at work and school, and natrually, their home machines are loaded to the gills. They have indirect access to the latest and greatest at no personal cost- do you expect them not to take advantage of it? If you do, leave now: it's a mentality that is difficult to reason with. If programs that were as powerful and useable as Director, After Effects, Photoshop, etceteras, were available in Linux, these types would scarf them up instantly. And no, Gimp can NOT compete with a base install of Photoshop 5.02 in the hands of a capable user. Sorry. Flame me all you like. These people do as they please because they are in an environment where it is condusive to do so. The issue of license holding can always be brushed aside, since someone in the chain of command actually owns one. Just not the Rational Anarchist.

    The rational anarchy standpoint is an interesting one, particullalry in the case of apps like Photoshop and Director: the project work gets done, but in a more convenient setting. And the company laready has the license for the stuff.

    If you really, REALLY want to stomp out piracy, go the Media100 route. Media100 software requires a board of varying capabilities and costs to be physically insterted into a PCI slot for your software to perform at something approaching peak useability. Oh, yo ucan dupe that CD as much as you want, but there's only one board per license- and good luck fabricating THAT. But then, do really want a bunch of dongles and PCI boards cluttering up your box? Didn't think so.

    If it isn't already obvious, I firmly stand for the third category. If Linux ever developes apps that are useable for what I do for a living, then I'll jump on the bandwagon. It's a concept I believe in. But then, I also think Eight Tracks and Bubble Memory are cool ideas too. Linux is to me the way the Mac is to Windows users: it goes, and it does a lot of neat things you can use, but overall, it doesn't have anything you want or need. But that's me. Of course, as is much the case with things like Quake and Star Wars, Linux has its share of Zealots. Followers who really need to get a life. Let them flame me if they like. In my opinion, Slashdot is an open forum for this sort of thing. And in the tradition of freely developed stuff, if the people in charge see a reason to do something off-topic (Hemos losing his living quarters, for example), then as the people in charge, they can. I doubt that the bulk of the detractors out there have any idea what it is that goes on behind the scenes, what makes Slashdot tick. These people are more than likely ignorant louts who have no idea what Perl is or how talented Rob is when it comes to its implementation.
    Of course, said detractors more than likely fall into category one.

    Bottom line: as long as large amounts of cash are charged for software, there will be piracy. As long as licencing is an issue, there will be the Morally Ambiguous to step around it and get the job done anyway. And as long as there is an "average" intelligence, those on the lower end will make fun of and yell at (in caps, of course) the things they can't understand.

  • hmm, I wonder... burn a copy and write a reg key on it... then trade it in for free software. Who wants legit NT 4?

    haha, bad place to ask for takers ;->

    the brains behind this probably cashed in their stock options before it split... LOL!
  • I have noticed KOffice reference in your sig.
    I don't have anything against KOffice but don't you think it is a bit amusing when people who consider MS to be the root of all evil in the industry, advocate free software that tries to be almost exact copy of MS Office ...

  • ... how much of the illegal software has been used to subvert those 12 galaxies?

    Which galaxies are they, anyways?

    As much as we'd all hate to see a continuance of spaced out legal chickanery in the US government, I must admit that I'd personally love to watch representatives of these 12 galaxies come down for a babylon 5-ish style court hearing. THAT would be worth switching over from X-files to watch ;)

    rickf@transpect.SPAM-B-GONE.net (remove the SPAM-B-GONE bit)

  • In the case of Microsoft or any other monopolistic
    company, the prices they charge are higher than
    the free market (efficient) price.

    Companies don't generally price goods and services
    based on the cost. They price based on the
    market. As long as the price they can charge in
    the market will cover their unit costs, then
    they'll sell product or services.

    Piracy doesn't directly increase the PRICE but it
    does increase the COST. The response can be a
    price increase, exiting the market, etc...
    depending on how much the cost increase is.

    Putting a dollar value on software piracy is
    tricky, though. You can't just count the number
    of illegal copies around and multiply that by
    the price. You have to take into account the
    fact that some number of illegal users wouldn't
    use the product at all.

    Bolie IV
  • In a separate ceremony in Palo Alto, Gov. Gray Davis signed an executive order setting government policy for state agencies to use only legal copies of software. President Clinton signed a similar order covering federal agencies a year ago.

    An executive order had to be signed to mandate this??? You'd think our various government agencies would at least make an attempt at being honest without a law enforcing it.

  • Assuming they buy from a large OEM distributor. I called Merisel for the price on a boxed copy of MS Windows 98 SE (you know, the one with free phone support that the OEM version doesn't come with). It was over $250 (CAN) ... that's about $175 US. A few bucks? I don't think so. Considering OEM copies specifically state that your only support is through the OEM. I don't want to sell my customers OEM Windows 9x and have to support it ... it's buggy, we all know that. I want MS to support their own software. But then I have to pay the extra because very few customers will.

    IMHO, the reason software is so expensive is not primarily because of piracy but because the main consumers are businesses who are more than willing to shell out the money for Windows products. That's the reasoning behind Windows 2000 "editions" (home, business, enterprise) ... make an obvious difference between products with a similar core to maintain so that they can price the higher end product much higher (Think high-end Intel and AMD chips).

    Individuals get screwed, price-wise, because they aren't the real target market on a curve of price-profit ratios ... we learned this in highschool Calculus people ... for every dollar you add to the price, your profits go up per copy sold and a certain number of copies won't be sold. You figure out the optimum price not based on how many people will get the product but on optimum profit. If you're the only option, you can price much higher and have this work for you -- MS has lost in the past to software pirates, but in the future it will be to competitors (Linux, BE, etc.). If a 16 year old wants to upgrade to 98, are they going to pay the bucks or pirate it? They'll install Linux in the future ... ie, MS isn't losing much money to individual pirates (home users) as they wouldn't buy the software at any rate (in many cases).

    Who MS really IS losing money to are large piracy houses who manufacture fake MS Windows boxes, etc. and get them on the shelves. These should be busted by FBI, etc. though, not MS themselves.
  • "This is captiam Jean luc Picard of the starship Enterprise. Stop your engines and prepare to be boarded!"

    [unknown business vessel] "But why?"

    "The Federation has reason to believe that you're using pirated MS software to run you're ship.

    [to Geordi] See if you can lock onto their main database.
    [Geordi] Aye, Capitan.
    [Picard] Is it Access 3050?
    [Geordi] Yes Sir!
    [Picard] Mr. Warf, fire Photon Torpedos...now!
    [Warf] Yes Sir!

    [unknown business vessel] Aaaarrrggghh!!!

    [Massive explosion of unknown business vessil]

    [Picard] Well. Guess that will teach them!

    [bridge crew laughs...]

  • haha, if I'd been there I'd have taken a debian gold cd (or something similar) and showed em it. And if they'd said it was legal I'd have acted stupid (I have a natural advantage, heh), and if they said it was illegal I'd have pulled out a printed copy of the GPL and confused em with it.

    Wonder if they'd give me a copy of win9x in exchange, hardly a fair trade.
  • You hit the bottomline. MS doesn't really care about home users installing two copies of win 98 when they only bought one. They do care about companies creating thousands of win 98 cds and selling them as the real stuff. The latter is bad for MS but it may also cause trouble for the people who buy the illegal cds (without knowing it).

    Anyhow, MS keeps the door wide open for piracy and only has trivial obstructions for copying the cd. The only copy protection is the serial number you have to type in when you install the product. If MS were serious about doing something about the smaller software pirates, they could easily add some copy protecting stuff on the cd (which would make it hard for the average user to make a copy). But they don't, they choose to keep the door wideopen to piracy. This causes me to believe that they actually benefit from home users cheating a little with their software. They even allow those users to download updates!

    All this (in theory :)) doesn't make me feel guilty about installing their software without paying for it.
  • Seriousyl, thought, you are looking way way way too far into this... People may actually have good tings to say about microsoft. They're not 100% evil, you know. Oops. Now i said something that's not pro microsoft, and therefore should be moderated down, right?

    Just because this is slashdot, that doesn't mean it has to been this festering pool of anti-microsoft sentiment... I really enjoy the discussions around here where people intellegently debate the pro's and con's of each angle of everything.

    I think you need to get over this paranoia of Microsoft trying to invade and influence your life. Next thing you know, you're going to start thinking that all the computers you buy funnell money back to microsoft due to components that you don't need, or that maybe that pro microsoft letter to the local newspaper originated in their PR department, and that they're buying opinions of major corporate consulting firms... Oh wait. Drat!

    I think though, honestly, that slashdot is useful for MSFT to research what people dislike about them, but i doubt they would expend the energy to try to change the opinions found here, because most seem to be way out in right fiend and not even remotely changeable.

    my two cents
  • I found this old tidbit [blinkenlights.com] again, out of sheer luck looking for something else.. (today).. and forgot about it. Its a bit interesting, pretty old. Not sure what else to say.. just that anyone bothering to read the forum....

  • by Amphigory ( 2375 ) on Sunday October 17, 1999 @02:33AM (#1607928) Homepage

    Maybe its just that Moore's law
    has made what I do possible on desktop machines. Ten years ago it would have taken
    desktop machines days if not weeks to do what I can do in a single day.

    But, ten years ago, would you have felt the need to do it?

    The problem is that while computers make things easy to do, once things become easier to do they also become required. The things that are added tend to be nonessentials -- for example, consider all these fancy, pretty internal documents done in word and friends. 10 years ago, they would have mostly been done on a typewriter without the benefit of fancy formatting and that would have been fine.

    Even worse, docments are created that would not have been before because it's now easy. Which just proves that most work is busy work.

  • by hypnotik ( 11190 ) on Saturday October 16, 1999 @08:06PM (#1607938) Homepage
    I've seen a bunch of insightful comments on how piracy is costing the one group or another so much money.

    Think about that statement for a little bit.

    How much money would have been spent on legit software? Now, ask yourself where did that money go instead?

    Software has an extremely low cost of production, especially when compared to durable goods.

    Yes, I know, there's tech support and all that, but.. think about how much money Microsoft has spent on developing NT in the past four years. My guess would put not greater then 100 to 250 million dollars. How much money has Microsoft made off of NT? Why does it cost $25 dollars a person to connect to NT server? (do that math on that one. My former company had 3,000 seats, that's $75,000 dollars of income that costs Microsoft how much to produce? Hell, you don't even get a piece of paper with a CAL anymore.)

    If my company hadn't spent the money on those seats, where would have it gone? To pay someone's salary maybe? Building a better business? I don't know, and I don't care. My point is that the money hasn't been lost to the economy in general, it has just been lost to Microsoft.

    I'd bet my ass that for every dollar Microsoft loses to piracy, three more dollars are generated in other sectors of the economy.

    I don't mind paying for tools, but when the price of those tools far outweigh the benefits, then those tools become a liability.

    This is why free software is a good thing.
  • Piracy serves an important purpose. Say John Q. Businessman needs to create MS Office documents, since all his clients use Office (and MS claims there is no such thing as network effects!). He has to go buy a win32 environment to run Office (ignoring macs for now). Since MS is the only place to get an OS to run Win32 apps, he must buy their software.

    Since he doesn't have a choice, MS can charge whatever they want. But wait, they don't! There is some competitive force keeping prices down (not very well, but its there). At some point, Windows would just cost too much, and the fines for piracy, times the risk that they'll get caught is less than the price of Windows. The smart businessman then pirates windows.

    Microsoft does have competition. Its the software pirates. Obviously this doesn't make piracy good; I'd prefer that said businessman used free software, but it is certainly something to think about.
  • Microsoft got away with producing inferior software because they managed to get it in front of lots of people, which created a critical mass effect.

    The definition of quality is a tricky thing. On one level - ease of use and versatility - Microsoft Windows software, aka Word and Excel, were better than what proceeded it. On another level - reliability - Windows software was far worse than what came before.

    Consumers noticed the first part, ignored the second. That's why we're in the pickle we are today.

    So I would say my point is still valid - if a company more interested in quality had spearheaded the GUI revolution, we'd have better and more productive computers.


  • The rest of it is meaningless. Since an economy is a closed system, you say it may be beneficial to pirate software since your money stays in your wallet for other uses. So by that rationale, even if you stole stuff it is fine, since the $ stay in your wallet and are used productively elsewhere.

    There's a very big difference between "piracy" of intellectual goods, and stealing physical goods... Comparing the two is apples and oranges, the route you took to "prove" me wrong. There is a fixed cost associated with producing a physical good. If I go steal a candy bar in a store and eat it, it absolutely costs the manufacturer (well, really the store owner probably, but still) whatever amount of money it took to create the candy bar in the first place. For intellectual property, like software or music, if I go and "pirate" a copy of MS office, it costs microsoft *absolutely nothing*. There's a theoretical profit loss, but there's no corresponding fixed cost that's being lost because the original investment money to create MS office is a sunk cost - it has no bearing on the profit/loss of each sale. Hence my points about software piracy not being quite the scourage on society that the software companies make it out to be.

    Hijacking a truck with 5000 msoffice boxes in it, then reselling them at a computer swap sale is bad. Period. You're stealing a physical box + cd that cost microsoft $3.50 to make. This is called stealing. Putting up MSOffice on an FTP warez site is not the same thing at all, even if you charged people five bucks to access the site. Every downloaded copy is not a loss to microsoft... it's a *potential* loss, yes, but the whole point of my argument was that the potential is much smaller than the software companies would have you believe.

    It's stuff like this that results in slashdotters being called crackpots. Here, let's think about the positive aspects of sneaking in and watching movies for free, or shoplifting magazines - if you like the product, it creates awareness of it and makes you likely to buy more of it! Woo hoo!

    First, if you want to be insulting, don't post as an AC. Second, we're back to apples and oranges. There is an absolute loss if you steal a magazine, because you're walking away with something physical. If you sneak into a movie, presuming you're not taking up a paying customer's seat, you cost the theatre *absolutely nothing*. Is there a potential benefit to you being there? Absolutely. Does that benefit outweight the theoretical cost of you not paying? Maybe... And that's my point. Maybe. Not absolutely not.

  • Why is this story posted on slashdot? Is it simply to provide people with a forum to make snide remarks about Microsoft? Aren't there enough legitimate opportunities to do that already?

    In case you don't realize this guys, 20000 geeks' livelihoods depend directly upon Microsoft. Twenty thousand employees and their families are directly influenced by software piracy. Pirated copies of software cost Microsoft money, and do you think they'll be passing that cost along to BillG? Forget it. It comes straight out of the base employees' salaries.

    Hey, I know you guys don't like patents. I know you don't like copyrighted software. I know you don't like Microsoft. I get what you're saying. What some of you don't seem to get, though, is that as long as our industry operates on those principles, ordinary peoples' lives can be harmed by flippant acts of "rebellion" such as piracy.

    If you want to change software, advocacy is the best way. Look how much has already been accomplished by those means. Laughing about guerilla tactics like cracking and piracy only reinforce the negative stereotypes of this movement.

  • Maybe they just changed productivity. I can't hand a 200,000 record table to a person or even a group of people and have them hand pick out duplicates and expect to see the result within the week. This takes a matter of hours with a medium power (today) desktop computer. Maybe it just doesn't apply to certain industries, but, like I said in my other post, my job would have been impossible to do in a company our size 10 years ago (at least at the volume I do now). Maybe computers don't increase productivity for people who don't USE them (salesmen, secretaries) but for me, and the artists (who have G3s) at work, a faster computer can double the amount of work we can do, because the work itself is processor intensive.

  • Microsoft routinely posts their own software to pirate BBSs in countries where most software is pirated anyway and where they wouldn't have a market if their software had to be bought to be had. MS writes this off as gaining a user base and a following for that future day (if ever) when piracy is stopped in these markets at which time MS will sit pretty with 90+% of marketshare and thus dominate subsequent legit sales.

    Of course they will never admit this through official channels. It's the classic double standard.

  • Adobe will lose massive "market share" to the GIMP within the next year, even on the Win32/64 platforms.

    I would love this to happen, but: Photoshop is primarily a photo editing app (hence the name). Who uses that? Photographers and press. What do they use? Macs! Until Linux can duplicate the easy of use and installation of the Mac OS, the Gimp will be used mainly for content creation (like Tux :-). Nothing wrong with that, but that isn't Photoshops main market.


  • by daviddennis ( 10926 ) <david@amazing.com> on Saturday October 16, 1999 @08:45PM (#1607993) Homepage
    I wonder if we'd be in more of an economic boom if a company that created working software had succeeded in setting standards instead of MS.

    Think of all the productivity lost through crashed programs and frequent MS software reboots - that must amount to billions of dollars worldwide.


  • by elflord ( 9269 ) on Saturday October 16, 1999 @06:11PM (#1607995) Homepage
    I won't pay a Microsoft tax to run the software I want to use.

    If you need to use their operating system, you certainly should buy a license for it. If you have an overwhelming need not to support them, don't use their products.

  • by Wah ( 30840 ) on Saturday October 16, 1999 @11:42PM (#1607997) Homepage Journal
    Don't make it illegal. Here's a crazy idea to become legal. Use Free Software. This could be a MAJOR advocacy point. What? You want to be a law abiding citizen? Here use this. Yep, give it to as many friends as you want. Hell, burn it to a CD, make a pretty box, get announced on /., and go public, everybodies doin' it.

    Software's value is zero (Demand/Supply). The sooner the law realizes that the better. The same with IP. We need some serious restructuring of these laws to allow for an infinite product. Capitalism and an infinitely renewable procucts make for a dangerous mix.
  • Hey, next time Microsoft goes to hang out in front of a court house why doesn't everyone show up with their Windows 98/95 CD's that aren't being used because they aren't running it and demand their money back. Hell, if they're at the court house complaining about the money being stolen from them why not go to complain about the money they're taking?
  • Truthfully, I think there are some genuinely pro-Microsoft folks lurking here. However, I suspect this specific article got moderated up high because many Slashdotters depend to some degree on the packaged software industry for their livelihood. This is a hot-button issue for anyone who sells software - perhaps even more so for small companies then MS.


  • by tweek ( 18111 ) on Saturday October 16, 1999 @06:12PM (#1608017) Homepage Journal
    I've been hearing TONS (and the rock means TONS) of commercials making blanket statements that copying ANY and ALL software is piracy. I usually just laugh at them. But after the first month I started thinking (scary though in itself). Is it possible that companies like Microsoft are pushing the piracy issue to confuse people on the opensource issue? I mean if you get average joe user who is interested linux/bsd. Joe linuxuser friend gives him a copy and joe user wonders about piracy. Just some random thoughts.
  • When I hear that Microsoft is *Shipping* a Linux port of Office, I'm gonna party. Everyone in the office will look at me funny, but, heh, what else is gnu.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 17, 1999 @04:29AM (#1608027)
    The first point is valid.

    The rest of it is meaningless. Since an economy is a closed system, you say it may be beneficial to pirate software since your money stays in your wallet for other uses. So by that rationale, even if you stole stuff it is fine, since the $ stay in your wallet and are used productively elsewhere.

    *positive* aspects of piracy. Software piracy increases awareness of the software.

    It's stuff like this that results in slashdotters being called crackpots. Here, let's think about the positive aspects of sneaking in and watching movies for free, or shoplifting magazines - if you like the product, it creates awareness of it and makes you likely to buy more of it! Woo hoo!

    exceeds the value the customer is forced to fork over.

    Nobody is forcing you. This so called "forking over" is what is known as a purchase. In a capitalistic society, it involves exchange of money for goods and services, for a price set by the seller, at conditions also set by the seller. The reason the seller sets the price and conditions is because he OWNS the product. If you don't like it, you don't buy it. That's how it works.

    No matter how crappy the product is, it doesn't justify pirating it. You could as well justify pirating anything that way - movies, books, CDs, medicines. There are countries that manufacture all of the above without the consent of the original producer, simply because they think it's too expensive. You might claim drug companies are charging exorbitant prices, but the reality is that they also spend millions on product development, just like MS does. If you don't like it, don't buy it. But please don't justify churning out fake copies and selling repackaged copies.

    I'm not talking about casually handing a CD to friends. Normally, MS and companies crack down on mass piracy, which I can't find any reason to justify, simply because the pirates make money at the expense of the producer, while leaving the customer stranded with a fake product.

    And yes, I use linux. And the stunt MS pulled was stupid. but that doesn't mean piracy is a good thing.

  • So....um...suppose you just made a great new computer technology. You sold it to a lot of people who drew up blueprints and sold it for a lot less. You'd be pissed, n'est pas?

    So, that's bad, but software piracy is ok? Well, software piracy is just about the same thing. So what makes it so diffrent?

    I think slashdot has a very close minded approach to Microsoft (though very open minded in other ways). We need to realize that Microsoft is not the `evil empire' and dosen't want to take over the world (sorry).

    Just remember how upset we are at companies that burn copies of Linux distro's and sell then for $5 on the corner. We don't like them, however, it's just legal piracy, same concept, diffrent licensing agreement.

    That's my $(2^4*3+1/7%3*2/100)
  • The Solow paradox says that computers don't seem to add anything to the productivity statistics. That either means computers aren't as useful as we think, or the statistics are wrong. I tend to think it's a little of both, but the result is that MS doesn't do a whole lot for the economy.

    I've seen these Solow statistics, and I don't buy 'em. Maybe its just that Moore's law has made what I do possible on desktop machines. Ten years ago it would have taken desktop machines days if not weeks to do what I can do in a single day. Not that I do that much, but it still wouldn't have been possible without the overlal speed increase of computers, and networking, and now, the Internet.

    I don't think this report/study takes into account the tremendous amount of work that is now done by robots. Not the big shiny metal ones, the ones that live and work in our machines. Programs and such. My little army does the work of at least 200 people, every day. I recently started an in-house data entry company, on one machine.

    Anyway, I think that report is bunk.
  • The real watershed for BI was the release of Turbo Pascal 3.?? for $75.00 a pop. The TP 3.x distribution consisted of a shrinkwrapped paperback manual (I still have mine) with a single 360K floppy stuck in the middle. This came at a time when most PC compilers were going for $1,000.00 or so, and required royalty payments if you sold binaries linked against their libs.

    I suspect that part of the reason that TPs sales were so high was the "cost of documentation" factor. Many otherwise honest folks, when faced with the decision whether to buy a license for a software package or "borrow" it, assume that they will have to pay at least $40-150 for third-party books if they really want to get any use out of the software. Since one had to spend roughly the same amount of money to get any value from TP no matter how it was acquired, I think a lot of people who would otherwise have copied a friend's diskette, decided to buy the package.

    For what it's worth, BI's prices started to rise because PK got into a stupid OOP VaporWar with BG, which took a huge toll on BI. Buying Ashton-Tate and getting sidetracked into other things like an office suite competition didn't help either.

  • but I am completely convinced that current copyright law in the US hurts consumers more than it helps producers, and as such is a bad law that ought to be changed for the better.

    Agreed, our current laws only exist the limit the supply of the product and therefore create value through scarcity. This is an unnatural situation given the nature of the product. The laws should be changed accordingly. Or at least the people should be educated about an alternative...
  • > The Solow paradox says that computers don't
    > seem to add anything to the productivity
    > statistics.

    Hmmm, first nobody was using computers in their business, now everyone is. It's a matter of keeping up with everyone else. Try running a business NOW without any computers. Just bring in the typewriters and keep track of all paperwork in huge filing rooms. Type all reports for clients/investors individually.

    I bet your productivity wouldn't be very high.

  • Or could it mean that the standards are rising? I haven't read the material in question, though it sounds interesting, but I know that a lot of times, when capacity to produce increases, demand for production increases at twice the rate.

    Well, they're supposed to take rising standards into account when they determine all of that and weight productivity statistics accordingly, but as you might guess it's pretty impossible to do that right.
  • Actually, most of the millionaires' money is in stock and stock options. If MS dropped off the face of the earth, their money would too.
  • But what is it that you don't believe? This is more than just one report by Solow. This is a few dozen reports by lots of people, who still haven't come up with a consistent explanation. The data are gathered from various sources. It may be that computers waste productivity exactly as much as they help, cancelling out the effect. Or maybe they're just not that important (~2% of business capital investments). Or maybe we just need a better measure of productivity, but it stands that "you can see computers everywhere but in the productivity statistics."
  • Ok, so you've got to earn money to continue paying people to code, I understand that. (reading the above post about the costs of piracy coming out of the base employees' pay...) I figure it this way - If ALL buisness bought legit copies of software, and all people using it for personal use ONLY got free copies, who is to complain? Now I'm not talking ALL software, but things like Windows, Office, and other buisness related software (minus MS Money)... if they were free to home users and the buisnesses HAD to pay, it'd even out fine. Things like Photoshop and Sound Forge and even Accelerated X (gotta throw a Linux app in there or I'd be flamed to hell) are also included in there. Buisness pay, homes users don't... Or maybe a very small price for home users even to cover the packaging and materials (an almost not-for-profit copy, if you will). It'd work fine, though there would have to be another buisness in which employees went around checking buisness for licenses on their software. Other applications like Gizmos and Paint Shop Pro and other non-buisness type software can stay just where it is on the shelf. Theose are more non-buisness type software and can be paid for by the home users if they want it. What I'm saying is, why make the home users pay for something at buisness' prices if they don't use it like a buisness would and they don't make money off the end-products? Granted, Linux is nice and it is great that it is free but if you are looking for quality in applications, you are almost -always- looking at Windows apps. I don't care how much you insist, Gimp does NOT come even CLOSE to Photoshop. And Linux is still nowhere near up to par with it's hardware compatibilty (2 weeks it took me to get 2 NIC's recognized by PnP and then I get an error on startup about the (ISOLATE PRESERVE) line that noone can answer). However you take that, I am -NOT- slamming Linux, hell, I am trying to get my server up on it (proxy/ipmasq/portforwarder to run ftp's on other machines behind it)... I just CAN'T do it. - 8Complex
  • by richj ( 85270 ) on Saturday October 16, 1999 @06:29PM (#1608071)
    Forget it. It comes straight out of the base employees' salaries.

    Actually, it's being passed on to the consumer in the form of overpriced software. I don't know anyone who's going to work for less than the going rate because the company is having some of its products stolen.

    What some of you don't seem to get, though, is that as long as our industry operates on those principles, ordinary peoples' lives can be harmed by flippant acts of "rebellion" such as piracy.

    This is very much the case with smaller software companies who can't afford to have their software stolen, but I don't see Microsoft paying their engineers $8/hr because the pirates are running them out of business.

    I'm not advocating that it's okay to steal software from anywhere, but their anti-piracy campaign is more rooted in greed rather than trying to keep their business out of the red.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I think most of us Linux users would LOVE it if MS actually enforced their licenses..

    Can you see it? One $500 copy of office for every PC in the office when you only need it on three at once, can't publish benchmarks, have to actually buy 100 user copy of NT server (insted of pressing UP 95 times)..

    If forced to go legit, people would flock to Linux in mass numbers.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    So next time someone gets wind of them doing this, burn up a bunch of CD's of the redhat ftp distro, set up a table across from the MS folks and give them out, all the while ENCOURAGING people to copy them because it's LEGAL.
  • 1. See big Monty Python foot.
    2. Read article.
    3. Laugh.

    Explaining a joke never tends to go over well, but the point is a company did something irrelevant and the only person who took any notice was someone passing out fliers explaining how Clinton freely committed treason against 12 galaxies. Now that's funny!

    Just because no one legitimately showed doesn't mean a victory for pirated software anyway. It could mean that pirated software isn't much of a problem (unlikely), or that vendors are already well-educated about it (very likely) and Microsoft's "public service" wasn't going to teach anyone anything anyway. If that's the case, giving out free legal copies hurts those 20000 geeks no less than piracy.

  • That calculation is only meaningful if every pirate *could* and potentially *would* have paid for their product. If a home user would never have bought the product, but has a burned CD, it's arguably not true that the user now can spend that money elsewhere; perhaps he never had the money in the first place, and is living with a constant credit card debt, say.

    It's not like most end users can sell the pirated product and convert it back into $150 of cash that's spent elsewhere.
  • Interesting that you should bring that up... It so happens that one of the first major software piracy cases had the US Department of Justice as its defendant.

    Apparently, in 1982, Inslaw wrote some custom database software for the DOJ. The DOJ bought a copy for testing purposes, then informed Inslaw that they didn't want the software anymore. Then they proceeded to make at least 20 copies of it, for use in other departments. There is even evidence that they may have sold the software to other allied governments.

    A lot of lawsuits were thrown around, and a lot of taxpayer dollars rightfully ended up in the pockets of various Inslaw execs. Apparently there is still litigation going on.
  • by aheitner ( 3273 ) on Saturday October 16, 1999 @06:34PM (#1608105)
    Don't have much opportunity for piracy. You can't do that kind of thing on any scale in a business (perhaps with the exception of real fly-by-night places). The risks and consequences are just too great -- you really don't want your company sued out of existance.

    As for users, most of them get M$ for free on their computers. So they don't pay, more than in some very abstract sense. And it's not more than a few bucks per machine.
  • Piracy also seizes the privilege to use software. You're not buying the software itself so much as media, documentation, support and a *license* to use it -- e.g. check the GPL, where it notes that the license is the only thing that grants you the privilege to use any GPL'd package. If you don't agree w/ that license and you use it anyway, you're still stealing.

    You can steal intangibles, like space (squatting), as well. And so forth.

    There is no basic *right* to use software unless the publisher/author gives you the right to do so, perhaps indirectly (via a transferrable license).
  • How do they come up with this number? The only explanation I can see is that they've built a machine to travel to a parallel universe in which piracy never occurs, and discovered that there are 18,000 more jobs in it.
    Or for a more mundane explanation: there are three types of lies...

  • by Anonymous Coward
    >Twenty thousand employees and their families are >directly influenced by software piracy. Pirated >copies of software cost Microsoft money, and do >you think they'll be passing that cost along to >BillG? Forget it. It comes straight out of the >base employees' salaries. Most people happily calculate loss due to piracy by adding up the actual value of the pirated copy. Now, do you think that if those pirated copies did not exist, the people who bought them would have bought the real thing? I think the current way of calculation the losses is a major exaggeration.
  • Anybody know if these are regularly scheduled events? It would be so much fun to show up and setup a booth and pass out some other free licensed software, like nice linux CDs. Now that would be a stunt to pull.
  • by Bob-K ( 29692 ) on Saturday October 16, 1999 @06:41PM (#1608162)
    Think about it folks. Counterfeit software may be a ripoff of Microsoft, but it's an even worse ripoff of the consumer. Go through any computer show, and you'll see piles of "Microsoft OEM" software for sale, or retail copies of Office at suspiciously low prices. If you develop an eye for it, you'll realize that as much as 90% of the stuff is counterfeit.

    If you want to rip off a copy of Windows from Microsoft, that's your decision; but if you're going to pay for it, then you might as well get the real thing. People who sell a counterfeit copy of Office to an unsuspecting user for $200 or more are pretty slimy.

    Offering to replace counterfeit stuff with the real thing is pretty generous on MS's part, and as I said, I have no problems with them chasing down the people who make the stuff. These are not innocent home users making an extra copy of Windows for their buddies, they're professional criminals, they know what they're doing, and they're ripping off consumers.
  • I agree, MS accells at creating a user interface (though I still think IE's interface sucks:)
    But how worthwhile is a good interface for an unworkable product. Thats what I truly appreciate about linux, and is the reason linux is taking absolutly so long in the development of a good GUI. Linux Developers are concerned with getting a product which is rock solid, then we can go back and make it look good. But sad to say, it seems MS works the other way around.
  • Yes, that definitely *was* odd. I know that MS has some operations in CA, but 18K jobs? They'd have to be claiming a huge number of indirectly-funded jobs (i.e. fueling some city's local economy, bringing in additional cash), like construction workers and so forth.

    The whole thing's rather strange.
  • Forget about the treason! I just read over in a Yahoo! chat room that Clinton also ordered the hit on Chewbacca. It seems that since the Empire has been destroyed the Alliance is now going after the Democrats.
  • Er, you are talking about the people who have produced actual quotes such as "What we want is a reasonable share of the market. What is a reasonable share? 100% seems reasonable".
    They're not fooling. Why don't you see this?
  • Yes, I know, there's tech support and all that, but..

    And even then, how many pirates are calling technical support? Most people who need technical support are going to pay for the software in order to get that technical support.

    If my company hadn't spent the money on those seats, where would have it gone? To pay someone's maybe? Building a better business? I don't know, and I don't care. My point is that the money hasn't been to the economy in general, it has just been lost to Microsoft.

    But has it really been lost to Microsoft in the first place? Would someone who has pirated a piece of software have been likely to actually purchase that software? Probably not. The fact that they copied the software means that they are unwilling to pay the piper for the price of admission. Sure they may have wanted the software, but that doesn't mean that they were willing to purchase it.

    Look at Red Hat. Red Hat makes money selling Linux distributions despite the fact that it is legal and even encouraged to make as many free copies as possible. People wind up paying for the software because they want to be supported by Red Hat, they want manuals, and they want the convenience of getting a professionally mastered CD-ROM. People who copy the software or buy a Cheap Bytes disk weren't likely to buy the Official Red Hat distribution because they either didn't need the technical support or the manuals.

  • Against all my preaching in the past, word of mouth has not heeded my conclusions: by pirating commercial software you hurt yourself more than you hurt the company you would have paid.

    Think about it. You lose all rights to hold the company accountable for their faulty and bloated code. You also increase the installation base of the bad software, thereby increasing the market share, thereby eliminating the competition base and further reducing the incentive to provide better software.

    Piracy cost the California economy an estimated 18,000 jobs and $244 million in lost tax revenue in 1998. The estimated rate of illegal software installed statewide last year was about 29 percent, about eight percentage points higher than in 1997.
    Sheesh! If 29 percent of all copies of MS Windows upgrades and MS Office are pirated, no wonder it looks like Microsoft has a monopoly! Does that include all the legal copies that are installed multiple times? What would actually happen if everyone was forced to pay in full? If sales tax is %10 (a high estimate?) then that 244 million turns into almost 2.5 billion dollars not spent in California alone on software! No wonder there is such an incentive to pirate this stuff.

    I'm afraid that Microsoft is taking the downward spiral out the drain. These numbers just don't make any sense, and it looks like it is only going to get worse. If the average person feels worse about stealing a candy bar, the only operating systems that will survive are ones that are free (that's gratis, not liberty).

    As much as I would like to believe in the liberties of open source software, the truth of the matter is that I don't usually open up the hood myself (though it provides peace of mind with that option being open). The primary benefits to the end user are thus reliability and not having to repeatedly shell out for registered license agreements.

    I agree with an above comment that one way to slow the high rate of piracy is to reduce the cost to the consumer. Another more frightful way is to fire up the IDs on those PIIIs . . . . =8O

    Of course, it won't be the end of the world, will it? There are several free (gratis and liberty) OSes out there. My future as a consultant isn't disappearing anytime soon. In the meantime, though, make your bosses pay for all the MS licenses as required by law, or threaten to turn them in! If nothing else, this should restore some accountability.

  • Why is this story posted on slashdot? Is it simply to provide people with a forum to make snide remarks about Microsoft? Aren't there enough legitimate opportunities to do that already?

    Uhh...*you* may not have a sense of humor, but the richest company in the US getting no takers on its offer of licenses for warez is pretty amusing to most people.

    In case you don't realize this guys, 20000 geeks' livelihoods depend directly upon Microsoft. Twenty thousand employees and their families are directly influenced by software piracy.

    Oh, gee, get out the hankie. Excuse me while I puke.

    Did you ever stop to think about how many careers Microsoft *destroyed* with its illegal tactics?

    I don't use proprietary software. I don't think people should pirate. But I really don't care what happens to Microsoft, its employees, or the mindless lemmings who have built it into the monstrosity it is.

    Interested in XFMail? New XFMail home page [slappy.org]

  • Microsoft is not the `evil empire' and dosen't want to take over the world (sorry)

    I don't think the rank and file worker at Redmond is doing anything but what he has to to feed his family.

    BUT - I've been in the computer biz since the days of the IBM 1130 and the Link 8, and from my experiences I think that MS is very bad for innovation. The diversity of systems people have to work with has been choked by Microsoft's monopoly. Sure, standards are good, but standards can also be a real impediment.

    When Microsoft says 'we want the freedom to innovate' what they really mean is that we want the freedom to copy and crush anyone who has an innovation.

    A LOT of people have day jobs where their only computing choice is some sort of Wintel box with MS Office/MS Exchange on it. I've been there and it really sucks to have this sort of thing crammed down your throat.

  • While I hate M$ about as much as the man, I'm afraid I have to actually side with them on general prinicples. While the major MS product, Window$ is little more than a poorly executed port of MacOS, they have put a tremendous effort into development, marketing, software support, and all those other things that make a fairly incompetent end user happy. They do have a right to realize a profit from the work they have placed into a product, provided it sells, and not to have the end product stolen from them.

    Therefore, rather than simple pirating, we must use other methods to bring the evil empire to it's knees. Support emulation projects along the line of WINE, and ports of third party commercial software, so that windows loses it it's lock on extremely easy to use, mildy versatile software, that runs on all those Intel chips that someone bought for some reason. As this particular AC pointed out, M$ cannot survive without it's profit. Let's take that profit away from them, but let's do in the way that's not only legal, but has the additional effect of grinding the notion that not only do we not need the shoddy M$ OS, we don't want it either. Pirating sends the message that we do want it, but not on M$'s terms.

    Simply put, I think we should stop spitting in Billy boy's eye, in order to punch that same eye.

  • by dfallon ( 19751 ) on Saturday October 16, 1999 @07:18PM (#1608246)
    I read your article on microsoft's failed attempt to crack down on piracy, and was a bit disturbed about your figures... Time and time again, there are figures released about the staggering amounts of jobs/money software/music/whatever piracy costs the state, and they're all nonsense. The vast majority of these "statistics" are released/publicized by software companies themselves. Even worse, none of the statistics truely address the ramifications of software piracy. All they do is go "we think there are roughly X number of pirated copies out there." (which is *always* a wild guess) "each copy of software costs $Y." "Thus, we've lost $X * Y, which is a huge amount of money, and just think about how many jobs that could have funded."

    First, the reality is, 90%, if not more, of the people who are "pirating" software wouldn't be using the software in the first place. The gentleman who was listed in your article as giving his copy of chessmaster 3000 out to his friends had every right to do that if each person was using the software consecutively. And how many of those friends would have actually paid $49.95 for their own copy of chessmaster if they didn't have access to it for free? Very, very few. Yet, all of those people are counted as posessing pirated software for the statistics.

    Second, even if there is a large theoretical cost from software piracy, why is it an issue? Our economy is a closed system. If all of a sudden all of the supposed pirates went out and bought copies of the software, the money they used to pay for the software had to come from somewhere. The statistics the public sees imply it magically appears, to then be used for the benefit of all concerned. Not true... it comes from private individual's pockets, one way or another. Would there be more benefit if it remained in those pockets? Maybe. Maybe not. It could be positive or negative, but it certainly isn't as clear as we're supposed to believe.

    Third, even if all of those pirates went out and bought software, and it wouldn't be more useful in their hands, why would it be beneficial to give it to the software companies? They have zero obligation or interest to use it for anything resembling the public good, and the directors of those companies would and should be fired if they used it for anything but the benefit of their company. Microsoft, the biggest crier of wolf, has over (if I remember correctly) 10 BILLION dollars sitting in banks earning interest. How does this provide jobs? Does an extra 500 million mean an extra 10 thousand jobs? Or does it mean a big bonus for the directors and a 2 cents per share dividend? How, then, is software piracy a *problem* for the public?

    Finally, none of the statistics or articles I read deal at all with the *positive* aspects of piracy. Software piracy increases awareness of the software. Period. Going back to the chessmaster 3000 example above, is it likely that the ten other individuals who "pirated" chessmaster 3000 will go out and buy a full version? Not really. However, is it *more* likely than if they had never used it? Depends on the quality of the software, doesn't it? If someone "pirates" a piece of software, and then finds it to be the best, most highly-crafted, most stable, etc. etc., piece of software they've ever used, odds are they'll go out and buy a copy of the software, for the documentation, or for the next upgrade, or even out of a sense of thanks for the great value they got. Who will software piracy absolutely not benefit? Companys who make critical (people have to have it), but crappy (people have a low, if not negative perception of it's value) software. Ring a bell? Microsoft's operating system, perhaps? And surprise, microsoft is one of the biggest fighters of software piracy.

    Software piracy is not an issue if the software's percieved value matches or exceeds the value the customer is forced to fork over. The negative aspects of software piracy are overinflated, and the fight is entirely one-sided. It really makes you wonder what the "cost" of all that copy-protecting and lawsuits is...
  • Depends on the internal policies of the company. If they enforce a no piracy policy and back it up with real action the company is off the hook and the employee gets screwed. OTOH if they have no policy and management seems to encourage piracy by not allowing an adaquate budget the the company has the problems.
  • by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Saturday October 16, 1999 @07:22PM (#1608253)
    From the article:

    She said a similar event in San Diego drew about 40 computer sellers who wanted to see if their software was legit, and ``the vast majority was counterfeit.'

    Honesty compels me to admit skepticism. But I'll set it aside for long enough to ask the obvious questions:

    Where are commputer sellers getting MS software, under circumstances that they wouldn't be sure it was legit? Surely not from MS. From middleman distributors? If so, and if "the vast majority" of what they're selling is counterfeit, and if they're selling it openly enough that 40 computer sellers in one town can get hooked up for a steady supply... then why isn't the FBI all over the racket?

    I'm dubious about the claims, but perhaps I merely don't have all the facts to judge them by. (For example, is the FBI making frequent busts that don't make the news?)

    Any clarification would be appreciated.

    It's October 6th. Where's W2K? Over the horizon again, eh?
  • Of course, there is no way to know for sure, but I believe that had Microsoft not monopolized the industry, there would have been a more money made, and a healthier industry.

    Interested in XFMail? New XFMail home page [slappy.org]
  • To summarize: Users pay for it, it's not at all abstract, and it's a hell of a lot more than a few bucks per machine.
    Educate yourself and then step back into the ring when you have something valid to say

    What you say is true, but it's not like what he says is not true. No need to be mean about it. Think: How many normal computer purchasers actually notice the price of Windows? With Dell, Gateway, Compaq, etc., I seriously doubt they do. So that leaves someone shopping at a place like yours, where it is specifically itemized on the bill. His point was not that the cost of Windows is not actually substantial or is not passed onto consumers, but that in almost every case they don't notice, at least not to the point where they would buy a pirated copy, even if they had the technical knowledge to install it.
  • by Fizgig ( 16368 ) on Saturday October 16, 1999 @09:12PM (#1608267)
    Having read a lot about Solow's paradox, Moore's law, and economic growth in the past week, I can say that that's probably not very true. The Solow paradox says that computers don't seem to add anything to the productivity statistics. That either means computers aren't as useful as we think, or the statistics are wrong. I tend to think it's a little of both, but the result is that MS doesn't do a whole lot for the economy.

    The other thing I've learned is that the main way that computers affect the economy at large is because businesses spend so much on them, and because of Moore's law. The price of computers deflates (as opposed to inflation, though I have some problems with how they measure this deflation). Companies are spending more and more on computers and they keep dropping in price faster. This results in a lower natural rate of inflation (sort of), which is one of the reasons we're seeing low inflation and low unemployment at the same time, something which is very rare. But MS hasn't contributed anything to lower prices for computers. In fact, they go against it. Computers have gone from ~$2000 to ~$1000 recently, and the price of Windows stays the same, making it an ever-increasing part of the total cost.

    Disclaimer: IANAE (Economist)
  • Governments make the laws. You didn't expect them to *follow* them did you? Sorry, they rarely do, laws are for the little people. You can't even sue them without their permission.

    It really says it all when they have to order government employees not to break the law. I shudder to think of all the things there is no executive order covering if this is required.

Machines that have broken down will work perfectly when the repairman arrives.