The rate of PCs running unlicensed software in the UK has dropped significantly for the first time in five years, according to the BSA, which said the tablet boom will see the figure shrink again.
According to its Global Software Survey report, – which measures the volume and value of unlicensed software installed on PCs around the globe every two years – the UK's figure for 2013 stood at 24 per cent, equal to a commercial value of £1.2bn. For several years, the rate had remained stagnant, hovering around 26 per cent or 27 per cent.
The BSA's UK committee chairwoman Alyna Cope said the UK has done well but should not be celebrating just yet.
"We are extremely pleased with the progress seen in the UK over the past two years, particularly as the UK rate had been stagnant for some time before," she said.
"However, there are still 50.5m PCs in use in the UK and nearly a quarter of the programmes installed on these PCs last year were unlicensed. This indicates that computer users shouldn't be complacent about software licensing, and underscores the need for effective software management practices, especially in business settings."
The rate at which PC software was installed without proper licensing in the UK was almost half that of the global average – which rose from 42 per cent in 2011 to 43 per cent last year, totalling $62.7bn (£36.84bn).
The countries with the highest rates were Moldova and Georgia, where 90 per cent of PCs in both countries had incorrectly licensed software installed. The US was the best performer globally, with an unlicensed software rate of just 18 per cent, the BSA said.
The BSA pointed out that the installed base of tablets in the UK is now almost half that of PCs and said the trend could be good news for anti-piracy in the future.
"In the long term, this trend will continue to reshape the [UK] software landscape and could continue to push rates of unlicensed software installations down," it said.
As tablets are still a novelty in enterprise IT environments, end users are stricter about licensing them, which drags the piracy rate down, according to SAM vendor Snow Software.
"The case with [tablets] is that they are not part of the corporate IT estate in the traditional sense," said Matt Fisher (pictured), its vice president for marketing.
"If IT does deploy software into those, it is a very conscious decision to do it. One of the historical problems with licensing was the lack of conscious thought into software deployment – it was too easy to think ‘I have a new PC, let's just put Office on it'.
"The novelty of tablets and the fact they are still out of the ordinary [in businesses] forces IT to think more about licensing. At the moment, at least, they are making sure tablets are licensed accurately but I am not 100 per cent confident that will continue."
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