foobar on computers, software and the rest of the world

Half of Australians think it's OK to pirate Microsoft software

, posted: 5-Feb-2009 09:49

Nice little article on The Inquirer. Apparently, a survey has found that almost half of Australians think it's perfectly ok to run pirated versions of Microsoft software (I assume the percentage is similar in other countries as well):
[Microsoft] has decided to release Office Genuine Advantage (OGA) software down under to cope with what it feels is a rising tide of pirating in Godzone. The OGA, like Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA), operates through the Windows updates service.

[Microsoft] said that it wants to convince the 45 per cent of users who said OK to using pirated software on its survey that they are "at risk" by using anything they haven't paid Microsoft for.

I love the conclusion that the author of the article then puts under all of this:
Oddly most of the threat will now come from Microsoft switching the software off.
Hahaha! Smile

Goodness, when I read this I'm so glad that as a user of a free and open operating system I don't have to deal with any of this madness. No operating system or any vendor should be able to do stuff like this - against my will - with the computer on which I store my data.

Free software is the answer to a world built in code.

Other related posts:
Windows 7 Starter: The anti-feature edition
Vista: Microsoft's biggest failure yet?
How Microsoft wins against GNU/Linux in schools

Comment by freitasm, on 5-Feb-2009 10:02

Let's just wonder a bit - most of those users are probably home users. So the need of a more "compatible" format is probably lower.

Really, I have Office here and I can count on one hand the number of times I receive a document via email that need to be opened with Office.

If this is the case why people aren't using free software such as Open Office? Why do they rather get some pirated copy from a torrent, with all the inherent risks?

Are people so dumb?

Author's note by foobar, on 5-Feb-2009 10:09

@freitasm: Why? How about: People don't like to change? People are not aware of the alternatives? Everyone else is using Office, so why shouldn't I? FUD? People don't understand the disadvantages of proprietary software?

I think it's a combination of it all, don't you? I don't think there is a single reason.

All of these points have been often discussed already when it comes to free software advocacy and the overall difficulty to convince people to use free software.

Comment by tr3v, on 5-Feb-2009 10:45

Yes, the same 50% that say its OK to cheat in cricket too :-)
A friend of mine has just discovered that her Office 2003 edition is pirated, due to the recent Windows Update inclusion of the Office validation tool. I pointed her at - like you say, it is all about education because people aren't aware of alternatives. By enforcing licensing on home users, Microsoft is encouraging home users to explore free and non-proprietory alternatives. 

Comment by chris, on 5-Feb-2009 10:54

Non-geek people are generally unaware that there is an alternative to MS Office.

Also - they probably use MS Office at work, or school and are reluctant to re-learn something else to do the same job.

Also I have found that some schools/polytechs etc will not allow students to use OpenOffice - they insist the student uses MS Office - I wonder how much of that is Big MS Brother leaning on them?

Author's note by foobar, on 5-Feb-2009 11:57

@tr3v: You'd think that it would encourage users to explore FOSS options, but sadly, it's so much easier to just use a pirated copy and not have to learn anything else. The huge market presence of Microsoft is their biggest ally. That's why Microsoft didn't really lose too much sleep over the rempant piracy of its products in developing markets. A well-trained, thoroughly addicted user population is all they can ask for.

And our colleges and schools are aiding Microsoft every step of the way by being seduced to become Microsoft product training facilities through cheap giveways, lazyness, dumb political decisions, etc., happily sacrificing the freedom and independence of our children and students and our economic future to the corporate overlord. Excuse me while I puke...

Comment by draco, on 7-Feb-2009 10:52

Millions of people think it's ok to shoplift too.  Possibly the psychology is similar?

Comment by foo, on 8-Feb-2009 11:27

There are many people leaving Microsoft Office because of the infamous "Ribbon" interface:

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New Zealand

  • Who I am: Software developer and consultant.
  • What I do: System level programming, Linux/Unix. C, C++, Java, Python, and a long time ago even Assembler.
  • What I like: I'm a big fan of free and open source software. I'm Windows-free, running Ubuntu on my laptop. To a somewhat lesser degree, I also follow the SaaS industry.
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