Microsoft continues its pursuit of software pirates

Microsoft Corp. today broadened its efforts to stop people from pirating its products, launching a piracy-related Web site and announcing that it has filed 20 more lawsuits against alleged dealers of counterfeit or pirated software.

The new Web site provides information on how users can tell whether software is genuine or not. The site shows examples of suspicious packaging and gives other clues that Microsoft hopes will help users discern whether they’re buying the real deal or fake copies of Windows and other products.

Microsoft said that its latest lawsuits against alleged counterfeiters were filed in 13 states: Alabama, California, Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Mississippi, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah and Virginia. Over the past two years, the company has been systematically investigating piracy allegations and then filing lawsuits against individuals or companies that it claims are selling fraudulent versions of its software.Wednesday’s moves are part of Microsoft’s Genuine Software Initiative, which the company launched in July 2005 in an attempt to prevent pirated and counterfeit software from being sold to users. The effort includes three components: education of users and business partners, engineering of software to block pirating, and enforcement actions.

Predictably, there are mixed views on what Microsoft is doing. Some users and analysts have said that antipiracy measures such as the company’s Windows Genuine Advantage tool, which automatically checks PCs to see if they’re running legitimate copies of Windows, are intrusive. But others think that Microsoft is within its rights in trying to protect its business interests and intellectual property against software pirates.

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