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Microsoft Takes On Pirates of the Operating System

With brain-melting heat sweeping the U.S. this week, lots of folks are headed to the movies (or the "cinema," as sophisticates like to call it). Speaking as a fan of the old North American Soccer League (and today's Major League Soccer, for that matter), my cinematic summer has already been ruined by the fact that the spectacular-looking "Once in a Lifetime: The Extraordinary Story of the New York Cosmos" seems to be playing at only five theaters in the entire U.S. and at none even remotely near where I live just outside of Boston. It's just another defeat for the beautiful game on our shores, I guess.

But, for the millions of Americans who aren't Eurosports nerds, the film of choice this summer seems to be "Pirates of the Caribbean," or at least the sequel to the original. Never wanting to be left out of the hype, Microsoft has come out with a little pirate-related blockbuster of its own: lawsuits accusing 26 resellers across the US of selling illegal copies of Windows and Office. Software pirates, beware! The Redmond coast guard is setting sail, and Johnny Depp isn't likely to be on your side in this battle.

The lawsuits, it seems, are a fairly reasonable response to the very real problem of software piracy, which Microsoft is now fighting worldwide.

They're certain to be better received by the partner community at large than the universally unpopular Windows Genuine Advantage initiative, which seems to be spyware in anti-piracy clothing.

Hopefully Microsoft's legal head butts -- yes, that's another soccer reference -- will scare those resellers out there who know that they are selling illegal software to clean up their act and nudge everybody else to make sure that the copies of Windows and Office they're selling are above board. Piracy has the potential to be a huge problem for partners and Microsoft alike as PC sales slow in a market that is becoming ever more saturated. And most partners would surely rather see Redmond take on the evil swashbucklers in the courtroom rather than in the technology stack. Hopefully Microsoft's summer blockbuster will throw a few criminals overboard.

What do you think Microsoft should be doing to fight piracy? Is piracy affecting your business? Have you ever worked anyplace that sold pirated software? Let me know at [email protected] -- confidentiality guaranteed, especially for that last question.

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Nortel On Board for Unified Communications Push
After Steve Ballmer's shoe-pounding at the WWPC about partners sticking with Microsoft (and potentially abandoning former partners who are now competitors) in critical markets, the company has stepped up its unified communications efforts by announcing a partnership with Nortel. CEO Gets SaaS-y
You can almost smell the fear in Marc Benioff's comments as he talks about how far behind Microsoft is with its Software-as-a-Service efforts. Haven't we heard speeches like this somewhere before?

By the way, Marc, you might want to let your public relations people know that overnighting bags of chocolate in press kits -- like the one I received yesterday -- during the hottest week of the year is not a superb idea.

But Will It Fold and Fluff?
Kind of a funny story here about how Microsoft and a consortium of other companies are developing a networked washer and dryer. Think of the effort put into this next time you have critical bugs or security flaws dragging down your systems.

Do you want Microsoft software running appliances in your house? If so, which ones? Tell me at [email protected]

Posted by Lee Pender on July 18, 2006