Windows with all its faults and problems is still the most popular computer operating system around. That also means it is one of the most pirated operating systems around.
Piracy of the Windows operating system is so rampant that Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced in February of this year that piracy was to blame for slow Vista sales. Ironically, a month after the piracy is to blame for slow sales announcement; Microsoft came back touting its brisk sales figures for Windows Vista.
By July of 2007, Microsoft had sold 60 million copies of Windows Vista and proudly proclaimed it intended to ship 1 billion copies by 2008. In an effort to stop pirates from selling illegal copies of Vista, Microsoft introduced a reduced functionality mode in September of 2007. The same month Microsoft announced it would downgrade Vista haters to Windows XP.
This week Microsoft announced that its Vista SP1 would directly target users running illegal copies of Vista. Microsoft Corporate vice president of Windows product marketing Michael Sievert said in an interview this week, “While piracy rates are hard to measure precisely, we’re seeing indications from internal metrics, like WGA validation failures, that the Windows Vista piracy rate is less than half that of Windows XP today.”
Armchair analysts claim the reason the Vista piracy rate is half that of XP is that even pirates expect a stable operating system. Microsoft however attributes this reduction in piracy to the increased security measures in Windows Vista.
The company claims to date it has pursued legal action against more than 1,000 dealers of counterfeit Microsoft products. Microsoft also says that Vista SP1 will directly address hacks enabling counterfeiters to activate illegal copies of Vista.
Sievert, a realist, has an easy explanation for the lack of piracy on Windows Vista. "We know that Windows Vista is a lot harder to counterfeit than Windows XP, but we also know that pirates will keep trying," he closes.