Microsoft is hoping to recruit more end users to join its ongoing battle against software piracy. As part of this year's awareness push, yesterday was named Consumer Action Day by the company, with a major element of the message focused on malware fears and an invitation for some users to consider putting their own bosses in hot water.
When most folks think of software piracy, they most likely think of saving big bucks (and how the vendor can afford it, so it's no big deal, anyway). Microsoft wants more people to think of the dangerous malware that might be lurking in that counterfeit software, and the grief it'll cause.
"Consumers who are duped by fraudulent software encounter viruses, lose personal information, risk having their identities stolen, and waste valuable time and money," says David Finn, Microsoft's associate general counsel for Worldwide Anti-Piracy and Anti-Counterfeiting. And Microsoft knows this because it's generally the people who have struggled through one or more of these consequences after using pirated software who squeeze some kind of satisfaction out of the whole sorry experience by turning in the counterfeiters; the last two years have seen consumer reports double, Microsoft says.
If you are partial to turning in counterfeiters, and you live in London, you could collect a reward from the Business Software Alliance (of which Microsoft is a member) for ratting out your boss for using counterfeit software in the workplace. Rewards can be as high as 20,000, or over $33,000. V3.co.uk says BSA tried similar offers in Manchester and Glasgow, and expects the whistleblowing to reduce annual losses of 149 million (US$247 million) from piracy among London businesses alone.
A BSA spokeswoman surmised that employees who've been laid off or seen their paychecks reduced in recent months just might be in the mood to "nail" the boss.
The London reward offer is valid through Dec. 31.