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Microsoft Smokes Out Office Pirates

Following up on its Windows anti-piracy efforts, Microsoft is piloting a program to sniff out counterfeit copies of Office, Microsoft's second-biggest moneymaker.
If nothing else, said Wilcox, the fact that Office costs more than Windows might rankle users who are told their copy of the suite is bogus, but thought they were getting a legitimate one when they bought their computer.

DeGroot of Directions on Microsoft doesn't agree with Wilcox on some points. "I think Microsoft will make some kind of good faith offer to Office users. Their goal isn't to make end users pay the price of piracy." DeGroot theorized that Microsoft might require users to pay the difference between what they laid out for the supposedly-legit Office and the real deal's cost; how that would be calculated or verified, however, is unknown.

For its part Microsoft would only say that it was in for the long haul.

"We are absolutely committed to having Microsoft Office participate in the advantages of Microsoft’s overarching Genuine Software Initiative (GSI) from a long-term, broad perspective as part of upcoming releases," said the company's spokesperson.

But as for those future plans, "we have nothing further to discuss at this time."

Wilcox has ideas of what Microsoft's up to. "There's another issue to take into consideration with Office: piracy is not necessarily a bad thing for Microsoft."

He explained what he meant. "In emerging markets, piracy is also about gaining market share. If they weren't using a pirated copy of Office, they would be using something else, maybe OpenOffice or StarOffice.

"Converting a pirated customers is cheaper than switching them from someone else."