New Zealand users of Microsoft’s Office suite will be asked to verify the authenticity of their software under the company's Office Genuine Advantage (OGA) programme from today.
OGA notifications are delivered as an update that the user can voluntarily install. If the update finds that the user has counterfeit Microsoft Office, the user is presented with a dialogue box alert with options to get genuine software.
Microsoft says people who find they are the victim of counterfeit software can submit a report to Microsoft and may be eligible to receive a complimentary copy of Microsoft Office. Other users can buy Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007 for $149 recommended retail and Microsoft Office Small Business 2007 for $679.
Microsoft’s New Zealand managing director, Kevin Ackhurst, says “non-genuine” software is less secure than the real thing. He adds that cracking down on counterfeit software is also about supporting New Zealand businesses – its partners that sell the genuine software here in New Zealand.
Microsoft cites a recent study showing that for every dollar that Microsoft generates in New Zealand, partner companies generate $13. The study was conducted by IDC and sponsored by Microsoft.
Ackhurst says Microsoft uses the term “non-genuine”, as opposed to “pirated”, because the company is aware there are many ways and different circumstances under which counterfeit software arrives on users’ PCs. Some copies are so good users think they are genuine and sometimes the copies are genuine but stolen and then exported to other geographies, he says.
Ackhurst says while some people may have genuine difficulty paying for genuine software, Microsoft is running promotions to make these more affordable. Microsoft is also willing to talk to people who find their software is not genuine and find a way to help.
He says Microsoft does not expect a negative reaction to the programme from users as it has already been rolled out and tested overseas.
He alsoS says he is not concerned that some users may choose to move to Open Office or similar free software.
“We compete on two things: fitness for purpose and value for money,” he says.
Those applications are about desktop productivity, while Office is about more than that, through its integration with other corporate systems and applications such as SharePoint.
“If you are a small business, you care about that,” he says.