Microsoft (MSFT) CEO Steve Ballmer is still lashing out at Chinese software pirates.
In August Microsoft rolled out a new anti-piracy program called “Windows Genuine Advantage.” Critics in China call it the “Black Screen of Death”: The desktops on pirated versions of Windows turn all black, and no matter what a user does, they’ll revert to all-black every hour until Windows is validated.
Angry Chinese Windows users, long accustomed to not paying for software, are up in arms and accusing Microsoft of “hacking” and violating Chinese criminal law. Chinese government officials have told official state news agency Xinhua the black-out policy remains “open to question.”
Meanwhile, Microsoft is responding by stating the truth about China: Software piracy is so bad the country is irrelevant as a market anyway:
“China’s not really very important to our business right now,” Steve said in Australia last week. “I’d like it to be but it’s not because of the high rate of piracy of intellectual property. We need some IP reform in China for it to be important to our financial results.”
Will China force Microsoft to back down from its black-out policy, and have Steve continue to call the country an irrelevant market and a den of thieves at every opportunity? Possible, but we think not.
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