Retailer bites back at Microsoft's unlicensed software swoop
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Microsoft has found improperly licensed software on computers sold by six Auckland stores. However, a source at one of the companies in question says part of the blame must lie with Microsoft’s own unwieldy procedures.
What happened in his case, he alleges, is that he was restoring the hard drive on a customer’s laptop brought in for repair. Microsoft no longer supplies PC purchasers with a copy of the systems software on removable media. The official procedure is for the user or retailer to supply the code from the certificate of authenticity (CoA) on a label on the machine; on payment of a $60 fee, the software can be replaced.
The process takes about 10 days, he says; “in the meantime you [the customer] can’t use your laptop. If I tell you that, what are you going to do? You’ll go to a [less scrupulous] outfit down the road and get them to do it immediately.” No-one, neither Microsoft, the retailer nor the customer, gains from that process, he says.
Everyone has copies of Microsoft software “in the back room”, he says, and can replace it immediately. A reputable outlet will make sure a legitimate CoA code is supplied; but the official procedure is too cumbersome.
“Microsoft is sending private investigators round to Mom and Pop businesses and holding the threat of an expensive lawsuit over us,” he says. “We’re just trying to serve our customers.”
However, as a result of an agreement with Microsoft, he is not allowed to make any official attributable comment, he adds.
Computerworld attempted to confirm the alleged fee and time-lag with Microsoft. The staffer who answered our call on Microsoft’s enquiry line for general licensing issues at first had difficulty understanding that we were enquiring about a computer with software pre-installed and not a purchased disk.
Once we got that point across, she suggested the manufacturer of the machine would also have to be contacted, but that if a legitimate CoA code was presented, the process should take only a few minutes.
The stores concerned are identified as:
- IT Serve International
- Comtech International
- D&J IT Solutions
- Computer Xpress
- RAY Tech
- Powernet Computers.
Other stores on the list contacted by Computerworld either declined to comment or said a person of appropriate seniority was not available to discuss the issue.
The stores have settled with Microsoft, for a combined payment of $34,000.
Unlicensed software may contain malware, says Microsoft legal counsel Clayton Noble.
“Retailers that use reputable suppliers will be the winners in the end, as consumers become more aware of the risks associated with unsecured supply chains and unauthorised software, and will stick to trusted outlets,” says Darren Smith, general manager of Microsoft reseller PB Technologies, quoted in the Microsoft announcement.
Those of you that are saying comments like these I assume don't have any experience with more then who they currently work for or a particular role within a corporate business.
Small IT shops are always going to be needed for mums and dads, people are not picking up Linux not because it's hard but because the community creating it don't do enough to market the dam thing and show how simple it is. Also you totally forget that many of the largest corportations in NZ are running very old legacy applications (some even Win 95) that are supporting key parts of business. The reason they can't get off it is due to huge cost so easier to support and maintain for 5 years until they can decomission.
Posted by back down to earth.... at 14:18:57 on November 12, 2012
Posted by Peter Harrison at 8:13:30 on November 14, 2012
CoA labels need a protective coating over the label, the current cheapness of just paper means the number gets rubbed off very easily, particularly if it is a laptop used on the lap.
It's this cost cutting that is causing the problems, maybe M$ needs to prosecute manufacturers and label makers for causing these problems in the first place.
Posted by M at 13:23:48 on November 12, 2012
And if you need to there is probably a Linux skin that makes it look like MS - only the blue screen of death will be missing!
Posted by Anonymous at 11:34:31 on November 12, 2012
Posted by Mark L at 23:10:16 on November 12, 2012
Posted by pctek at 10:39:15 on November 12, 2012
I had copies of the various windows versions, OEM and retail, but always used customers COA. No COA, no install.
Too many cowboys installing using some dodgy key....and then making excuses for it.
Posted by pctek at 10:36:51 on November 12, 2012
Posted by John Harrop at 9:47:01 on November 12, 2012
Q. If I need to reinstall the operating system on a machine from a direct OEM (e.g., Dell) that my customer has brought in. How should I do this?
A. A customer who wants you to reinstall Windows must provide recovery media from the direct OEM, because the software is licensed to the customer for use on that PC by that OEM. You cannot use your own OEM System Builder media to reinstall the operating system, or any other version of media (e.g., TechNet, MSDN, Action Pack, etc.), because these versions differ from the original OEM Windows license your customer acquired from the direct OEM. A customer who doesn't have a backup copy of the software for reinstallation will need to contact the original OEM and request replacement recovery media; you can use that media to reinstall the operating system on that machine.
Posted by Anonymous at 9:45:32 on November 12, 2012
Posted by Anonymous at 14:33:42 on November 12, 2012