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True Tales of Software Piracy

With Windows Genuine Advantage blowing up in Redmond's face (scroll to the last entry here), I asked whether any of you had experience with a company that sold pirated software. Without mentioning any names (as promised), here are some of the stories I received:

"Yes, I worked at a place that sold/installed pirated software. I think it was terrible. This was in the days of Novell, and what they did was buy software (Novell) and use it in the office and also install it at client sites. So when it was time to call Novell for support, it was a big scramble to figure out who was registered as the owner. Also, when it was time to upgrade, it was a big mess. We also sold people RAM and charged them for Compaq RAM and installed Kingston."

"Well anyway they wound up getting caught for not paying taxes, and the company was shutdown. Last I heard they had started back up under another name. The way I found out was I was sent [to a client --LP] after hours on a Friday to troubleshoot a Compaq server that was rebooting itself every 20 minutes or so. After checking the OS, on one of the reboot cycles I pulled the cover off to check for loose cards or RAM and saw that it did not have Compaq RAM. Well, the older servers were very picky about what kind of memory was installed. I let the employee know that they didn't have Compaq RAM installed and that was most likely the RAM had failed, and left the site at 11:30 p.m. and went home. The next day, after lunch, I got a call to come to the boss's office as soon as I back in the office. Man, was he mad. I was told that I should not have told them that; I should have called the office first. I thought I was going to lose my job. I did find out later that we had originally sold them the server and charged them for Compaq memory. My recourse was to start looking for another job ASAP, which back then didn't take too long.

Another one:

"Never knowingly, but we -- in a previous business -- naively bought bargain copies of Windows 98 and Office 97, and they were curiously un-holographic. The good old days -- we sold them and never bought from that source again. My beef is with the authentication process for Windows XP which frequently finds OEM copies of XP unauthentic when we put it on an HP or Dell PC which we've had to restore for a client plagued by spyware or general OS constipation. Run the restore and try to do updates and the thing chokes. Then you can find an Internet hack to circumvent it or suffer calling the Microsoft off-shore bozos to try to resolve it. And there is no good reason for it to fail the authenticity test! This is unreasonable and overzealous. Then there is the problem of motherboard replacement. Theoretically, this happens if you get a replacement motherboard for a computer with OEM Windows the OS authenticity is voided. Some Microsoft dork called a reseller friend of mine telling him he was committing piracy because he relicensed an HP computer on which he had replaced the motherboard under warranty!"

Got any more? Let me know at lpender@rcpmag.com. Incidentally, a hearty thank you goes out to Christopher, Sherri and Harry, who all wrote thoughtful soccer-related e-mails to me last week and let me know that Once in a Lifetime: The Extraordinary Story of the New York Cosmos did, indeed, open in Boston last weekend. I saw it Sunday night and loved it. If you saw a stumpy guy in a green St. Etienne jersey in Harvard Square Sunday evening, that was indeed your intrepid author. Thanks for the tips, everybody.

Posted by Lee Pender on 07/25/2006 at 1:19 PM


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