This week, Microsoft announced that it had filed 20 lawsuits in nine states against software resellers that were selling counterfeit copies of Windows and Microsoft Office. The software company also highlighted the research findings from its first-ever forensic analysis of counterfeited software.
"Microsoft is determined to protect its intellectual property, while also helping protect consumers and honest resellers from the deceptive and dangerous practices of counterfeiting and hard-disk loading," a senior Microsoft attorney said. "We devote significant resources to helping ensure the integrity of the software marketplace and will not sit by as consumers are put at risk and honest resellers are hurt."
Although Microsoft's legal actions this week are interesting only in passing, its forensic analysis of counterfeit software from around the world is certainly interesting. The company says it investigated nearly 350 counterfeit copies of Windows XP obtained from 17 countries around the world and made some key findings: 34 percent of the copies couldn't be successfully installed on a PC, and 43 percent included software that wasn't part of a legitimate XP installation.
Of the remaining 228 counterfeit XP disks, more than 40 percent included illegally created product keys, tampered code, and other software code that was invisible to the user. The tampered code could "result in Denial of Service attacks, bypass of password protection, and application memory corruption," according to a Microsoft representative.
Microsoft's antipiracy efforts are, of course, mostly self-serving. But it's interesting to note that consumers who purchase counterfeit software--especially when it's produced by large-scale counterfeit operations--can indeed be burned.