Microsoft Office 97 is currently the most popular pirated software in Singapore, according to Microsoft officials.
"Piracy of Office 97 is unprecedented in the demand we're seeing for it," says Darren Lockie, Microsoft Singapore's sales and marketing manager, end-user division. "You go to any pirate store, the No. 1 selling pirated product they have is Office 97."
From private investigations carried out in Singapore, Microsoft estimates that the software pirates are selling in excess of 1000 copies of Office 97 on weekdays, and between 300 to 500 copies on weekdays. This is the peak season for the product, and sales, now growing, will peak in the next week or two, Lockie says.
The cost to Microsoft? Million and million of dollars, according to Lockie. "So our legal efforts to try and stop particularly illegal Office 97 sales have been very strong, and very public."
The software giant recently made out-of-court settlements, amounting to about S$225,000 (US$157,000), against 10 illegal software dealers caught "hard-disk loading" Office 97, where dealers selling PCs illegally add extra software to the hard disk of the computer as an incentive for the sale.
Ironically, the piracy could result in more sales for Microsoft.
"The look and feel of Office 97 is fantastic," says user of an unauthorised copy of the product, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "But I'm experiencing problems with my pirated version, so I'm thinking of buying the real thing."