The illegal practice of hard disk loading is rapidly becoming the number one issue for Microsoft’s channel partners, overtaking pirated software as a top revenue stealer.
Hard disk loading involves unlicensed software being pre-installed on a PC. The perpetrators buy one legal copy of a software program and install it on multiple machines.
Michala Alexander, UK head of anti-piracy at Microsoft, told CRN: “We had a three-year target to reduce the piracy rate of Windows XP by five per cent. This time last year the piracy rate was 16.7 per cent and today it is 12.9 per cent.
“However, the pirates know that we have tightened up on counterfeit software and are looking for different ways around it. In the past three months we have been tipped off on 157 resellers that have carried out hard disk loading.”
Microsoft has launched a Small Claims Court pilot project to spread the message and is mid-way through eight individual cases against UK channel players.
Ian Jenna, Microsoft business manager at distributor Enta, said: “Hard disk loading has been around for many years now and it has lost us a huge amount of business. We fully support Microsoft in what it is doing.”
Alan Patterson, product manager at VIP, added: “We’re training our sales staff to educate resellers about illegal hard disk loading and what the pitfalls can be. Microsoft will make an example of any firm that is caught doing it.”
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