E-Commerce Times Talkback
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There's a rumor that honor exists among thieves, but outside of Robin Hood, no one considers them a bunch of do-gooders. Yet there may be a bright side to their shadowy work, at least in terms of enterprise software. Why has Microsoft, a company known to be almost brutal in its license-protection practices, softened its approach to piracy? For several reasons: Chief among them is the rise in popularity of open source and the ever-shrinking cost of programmers.
High level Microsoft executives have been quoted as saying that they would rather see their software pirated, than to have the pirate using alternative (legal) software. MS wants a MS-centric world. A pirated copy of Windows with Internet Explorer adds to MS market share numbers, helping MS to convince that the whole world relies on MS. The logic may escape some, but MS is truly happy to have millions of people pirating their software, for personal use. The DO, however, pursue mass marketers who profit from pirating MS products. That is an entirely different scenario. The morality of piracy for personal use is orders of magnitude higher than the OEM who is selling pirated copies, whether pre-installed, or in bulk orders of CD's.
Open source software is the real threat to MS, and that is the reason MS tolerates piracy.