Microsoft Licensing and Software Piracy made the evening news here in the UK this week.
In a nutshell, Comet, a major UK high street retailer, wanted to continue to provide their customers with recovery disks after Microsoft withdrew them, claiming they were acting in the best interests of their customers. Microsoft is now suing them for breach of intellectual property.
“In 2008 and 2009, Comet approached tens of thousands of customers who had bought PCs with the necessary recovery software already on the hard drive, and offered to sell them unnecessary recovery discs for £14.99 ($23)”.
“Not only was the recovery software already provided on the hard drive by the computer manufacturer but, if the customer so desired, a recovery disc could also have been obtained by the customer from the PC manufacturer for free or a minimal amount”.
David Finn then added: “We’ve often encouraged our customers to buy from a trusted retailer. In this case, it is disappointing that a well-known retailer created so many unwitting victims of counterfeiting”, further criticising the UK retailer.
David Finn, Associate General Counsel, Worldwide Anti-Piracy and Anti-Counterfeiting at Microsoft Corporation.
Blatant Profiteering by a Struggling Retailer?
At face value, given that customers already have access to more modern restore facilities, it seems Comet chose to profit from this change of policy rather than educating their customers. Selling on the fear, uncertainty and doubt of hard disk failure.
It is unusual for Microsoft to publicly attack it’s own channel. I’m sure there have been plenty of instances of licensing conflicts in the past, but it is rare for them to make the headlines. Perhaps this story has reached this dramatic conclusion because Comet simply can’t afford to rectify the problem? The outdated retailer was sold off for £2.00 last year with annual sales down 20%.
See also these articles in the press:
- ‘Microsoft Sues Comet over Windows Copies’ – The Telegraph
- ‘Microsoft Sues Comet over Counterfeit CD’s’ – The Wall Street Journal
- ‘Microsoft Sues UK Retailer for Counterfeiting Windows’ – ZDNet
See the video below from Sky News.
About Martin Thompson
Martin is also author of the book "Practical ITAM - The essential guide for IT Asset Managers", a book that describes how to get started and make a difference in the field of IT Asset Management.
On a voluntary basis Martin is a contributor to ISO WG21 which develops the ITAM International Standard ISO/IEC 19770.
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