We usually associate pirated products/software with the world’s most populous country — China. However, a recent survey might change our focus to somewhere else instead. The survey, named “The Mysterious Customer” was conducted by Microsoft, which inspected 2,500 retailers in 53 Russian cities over the last few months. It found out that 25 per cent of Russian software outlets sell illegally copied Microsoft software, and some 11 per cent of them even offered to install the software onto customers’ computers. This has made Russia claim the title of “biggest pirates of Windows 7”.
“A few years ago most computer stores in some form or other offered pirate software,” said Denis Guz, head of the company’s department that promotes the sale of licensed software, in emailed comments. “Now, as we see, there are significantly fewer sales points of that kind … and now the majority of retailers offer only licensed programs.”
While software piracy is traditionally rife in Russia’s Far East and Central Siberia, high rates were also recorded in Yekaterinburg (41 per cent), Chelyabinsk (30 per cent) and Moscow (27 per cent). Even though the percentage of retail outlets vending illicit software in Moscow may seem rather low as compared to Yekaterinburg and Chelyabinsk, but the capital wins the pirate game due to the sheer volume of the Win 7 DVDs sold. And the situation could be a lot worse, according to Yuri Zlobin, the head of the anti-piracy association, “The Russian Shield”.
Similar to China and India, the Russian government has yet to control the ever-growing software piracy in their hands, and needs to introduce stiffer penalties and stricter enforcement in order to do so. For example, a high-school teacher who was found guilty of using bootleg Microsoft software in classroom machines, was fined only $190.
In China, dealers could be seen openly selling pirated Windows 7 software in shopping malls. An illegal copy of Windows 7 cost just 20 yuan or US$3. Although China didn’t topped the survey this time round, but the situation in the country is still as worrying as before.