Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Blackballing Windows

As a follow-up on the outrage in China over Microsoft's anti-piracy campaign that blacked-out screens across China, comes today's Shenzhen Daily article.

It seems that some in the government are not content with threats of criminal cases labeling Microsoft's actions hacking. The lawyer who first suggested the criminal charges has now petitioned the State Administration for Industry and Commerce to impose a US$1 billion fine against the company. And the government agency in charge of copyrights in China believes that Microsoft should consider the price of its product when considering actions against the public that uses pirated software.

Both of these actions are ridiculous. Microsoft's actions only cause a minor inconvenience to users who are using illegal copies of the software. Why should they not punish the users? The users knowingly purchase pirated copies and, therefore, are responsible. And condemning the actions is also in rather poor judgment considering China's track record in dealing with international intellectual property cases.

I agree that Microsoft products are expensive. I have never had to purchase any because it has always come with my computer. China doesn't seem to realize that it's not just in China that Microsoft products are extremely pricey. On the Microsoft Web site, the basic home version of Windows Vista costs $99.95 to download (more if you want a copy in your hand). Not only that, but just a few weeks ago, the company had a promotion in China to sell its products at significantly discounted prices--a copy of Home Office had its price slashed from 699RMB to 199.

China also fails to realize that most illegal copies of Microsoft products are being used in Internet cafes and businesses. Home computers are very expensive, especially when considering the standard of living. This means that the people who own personal computers have quite a lot of money to spend to real software.

1 comment:

Josh said...

I agree that many Chinese reactions to this are absolutely ridiculous. Most every one of them knowingly bought pirated software and are pouting when what used to be for free is now giving them problems.

I think Microsoft has done a good job avoiding most of the mistakes that were made by the music record labels when they tried to fix the illegal downloading problem years ago (just sue them!), but the fact is that when you take a toy away from a spoiled child, they're going to cry no matter what.

Hopefully people will come to their senses and Microsoft can make peace with its users.