Vietnam Agrees To Use Licensed Software Only

Microsoft Corp. CEO Steve Ballmer witnessed the signing of an agreement Monday requiring all of Vietnam's government offices to use licensed computer software in a step to curb rampant piracy.

Microsoft Corp. CEO Steve Ballmer witnessed the signing of an agreement Monday requiring all of Vietnam's government offices to use licensed computer software in a step to curb rampant piracy.

"The agreement demonstrates very strong commitments of the government of Vietnam," in protecting intellectual property rights, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung told Ballmer before the signing ceremony.

Vietnam's Ministry of Finance was the first government agency to sign the Microsoft Office licensing agreement during a visit by company Chairman Bill Gates last year.

"I see a prosperous future ahead for Vietnam, and the country is doing the right things by looking now at how it can foster a healthy local software ecosystem, which will help open up this market to the rest of the world," Ballmer said in a statement.

The software piracy rate in Vietnam is about 90 percent, one of the highest in the world, according to the U.S.-based Business Software Alliance, a piracy watchdog group. A version of Microsoft Windows can be bought on the street for as little as 50 cents.

The Business Software Alliance hails the licensing agreement, saying it demonstrates how the government is serious about protecting intellectual property rights and reducing piracy.

"We anticipate that the Vietnam government licensing agreement of desktops could reduce the overall piracy rate in Vietnam significantly next year," Jeffrey Hardee, the Alliance's Asia Pacific regional director said in a Microsoft Corp. statement.

Ballmer also participated in an online chat hosted by the Web-based newspaper Vietnamnet during his one-day visit to Hanoi, the first stop on a weeklong trip to Malaysia, Singapore and Australia.

"The Vietnamese government has acted not only to ensure that clients in the state sector benefit fully from licensed software programs, but it also serves as a good example for the whole IPR environment in general," Ballmer said during the chat.

Local information technology developers said Ballmer visit will be another boost to the country's IT industry following Gates' visit and Intel Corp.'s kicking off construction a $1 billion semiconductor plant in southern Vietnam last month.

About 15 million of Vietnam's 84 million people have subscribed to the Internet since the service became available 10 years ago.

"The whole world sees Vietnam as a new destination for information technology," said Truong Gia Binh, President and CEO of FPT Corp., Vietnam's leading IT company. "This trend will continue after the visit."

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Reader Comments:

Sun, May 27, 2007 Anonymous Anonymous

The signing of the Agreement demonstrates the professional and forward thinking attitude of the Vietnamese government under the leadership of the present Prime Minster Dung, however as a foreigner in the Vietnam I have to urge Microsoft to be realistic in their pricing strategy. If there is to be an uptake by those other than Government orgainsations and foriegn owned companies, i.e. the Vietnamese SME's and domestic housholds the cost of licenced software is prohibitably expensive. Having just purchased 5 new Pc's for an office, I was quite surprised to note that MS Vista or XP was not pre loaded with an increment in the price of PC purchase. Similalry, I am still searching to locate MS Office Professional 2007 to load onto these computers... will I be forced to succumb to pirated software in the meantime?
A culture and a commercial partnership whereby Vietnamese expect to have only genuine software should be established and encouraged sooner, rather than later, with prices reduced significantly or a payment system introduced to offer assistance in procuring licenced software.

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