Could Microsoft tackle piracy through Open Source?

Tom’s on holidays, I’ll be your host for today. My name’s Frank P, you might remember me from such blogs as “BifSniff.com”,” FestivalShirts.net/blog” and “Aonach.com/chatter”.

Updated due to lateness of the hour when posting originally ;)

Well, despite being on holidays, Tom is not completely cut off from things technical – when I was talking to him today he had heard about the huge piracy bust in China today.

It seems Microsoft are chuffed with themselves for their part in the busting of two pirate software groups in China… the piracy groups were “in possession of illegal software with an “estimated retail value” of close to $500 million.”

“This case represents a milestone in the fight against software piracy—governments, law enforcement agencies and private companies working together with customers and software resellers to break up a massive international counterfeiting ring,” said Microsoft senior VP Brad Smith in a statement.

Lovely, says Tom, but if Microsoft really want to have done with people pirating their software Operating System they should just open source it.

Tom reckons battling piracy on a case by case basis like this is much like the little Dutch Boy sticking his finger in the dam – except in this case while the Dutch Boy celebrates, the dam is destined to burst in any case…

Open sourcing the software OS would indeed make pirating the software it redundant – if it’s freely available for a cost of zero, who’s going to go to the trouble of pirating it?

This is not the first time Tom has brought up the possible benefits to open sourcing for Microsoft.

Unfortunately, here’s where this post stops… this isn’t really my area of expertise, and Tom doesn’t have proper internet access going at the moment… this story really bugged him though, and while we were chatting about it, I said I’d get something up on his behalf – however I don’t know enough about the area to make a meaningful contribution.

I’m sure Tom will revisit on his return… but in the meantime, it’s over to you – what do you reckon? Should MS look at Open Sourcing their software OS? What would the benefits be? How would affect profits? How would any negative impact on profits be offset?

I look forward to being educated :)

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13 thoughts on “Could Microsoft tackle piracy through Open Source?

  1. Pingback: University Update - Open Source - Could Microsoft tackle piracy through Open Source?

  2. Turfreek

    Tom should just enjoy his holiday and forget about microsoft, bill gates, apple and tomrafteryit.net.

    If he gets caught online he will be divorced!

    TR

    Reply
  3. Cormac

    I don’t know if going Open Source is the solution but I certainly think that Microsoft’s Operating Systems should be made free for personal and non commerical download.

    Make the platform free and charge for the software (office and all that crap)

    Reply
  4. Paul Browne

    I think that Microsoft will eventually open source Windows, but by the time it does so nobody will care.

    That ‘nobody’ will include Bill Gates, as by that time Microsoft will be making more money from online services and support (witness the Vista support options that Dell try to sell Business users by default).

    Been writing about Microsoft and Open source for some time …

    Paul

    Reply
  5. Mark

    At least if they made it free more people would use it – including all the people that buy the pirated copies. They should be looking at clawing back the users they have lost to Linux, OS X and other operating systems. I hope they don’t, like many others I hate MS but it would seem to be the way forward.

    Reply
  6. FrankP

    Ah yes, it was indeed the OS that Tom meant coul be Open Source, that’s what was being pirated primarily in the gangs that were busted… I really wasn’t clear about that at all when I posted… it was late, what can I say :D

    Reply
  7. Manuel

    Why should they change anything – Vista is selling great and even with all these piracy problems they have one of the best business years in 2007.

    Reply
  8. FrankP

    Well, I guess that’s the question Manuel… I know Gates let slip at one point that piracy in China posibly even helped with sales of MS products though – now that could be read a few ways, and as I said I don’t know too much about the area, but for example if OS piracy means that more software can be sold due to more machines running MS OS, wouldn’t open sourcing the OS result in even more sales again?

    After all, while many are happy to use pirated software, there are certainly those who don’t trust it, or for business reasons prefer/need to be in compliance, and as a result may look to other operating systems.

    If Microsofts OS was open souce would people go with it… I think they would, over other open source OS’s because for many people MS is all they know. Going with another OS means a certain learning curve/hassle in peoples minds…

    On the other hand as you say, from Microsofts perspective, if it aint broke don’t fix it. And they’re not exactly in financial trouble afaik…

    Reply
  9. Adi

    Manuel,
    I bought vista and it is the worst purchase i have ever done. It just sucks..they need to change the whole os :)

    Take my word about it…

    Reply
  10. Mike

    Why in the world will go MS on this route? Why offering Open Source programs? It makes no sense to me no matter what. And I am sure it makes no sense for Mr. Gates. :)

    Reply
  11. Tony Lindskog

    I would have to agree, Microsoft will never release any version of Windows as Open Source, there is no reason for it from their stand point. They are a commercial company making money, that is their business; like them or hate them, that’s just the facts.

    On the flip side (reversing someone elses comment above), Microsoft will provide free online services to compete with Google.

    Reply

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