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I just read this article on Slashdot, Game Developers should ignore software pirates, and my first thought was "They finally get it!"

This quote sums it up for me "they weren't customers, they might never be customers, so spending money to try to stop them serves no purpose".

I think a lot of software companies and the music industry spend too much money on fighting small-time piracy, the average user at home who downloads a song or movie or piece of software to play with it. I definitely have a problem with "professional" pirates who make copies and sell it. That is taking away sales from the owner of the software.

It looks like the music industry is slowly starting to realise that making music freely available for download is actually marketing as it exposes your music to more people and most of the people that really like your music will still buy it.

With software it is a different situation though, as people normally don't buy software because they are a fan of a vendor. I think what would work there is to make watered-down versions of the software available for free download and if the user wants more functions, they buy it. Or the general open source method of selling services, extensions, customisations or integration to your product.

But, let's look at the pure proprietary model. If Microsoft would make a basic version of Word and Excell available for free for example, I don't think they will loose a cent as the users that will use it will mostly be the people that are currently using a version of Office 'borrowed' from their employer or somewhere else. How many home users do buy MS Office? My theory is that the home users that buy MS Office is mostly people that really need to use it and will still buy the version with the more features. Most home users just need a word processor to write the odd document or do a task or a spreadsheet to do the budget.

I know that OpenOffice is the real solution for this situation, but I am now just theorising on the issue if Microsoft will really loose any money if they make a basic version of Word and Excell available for free and stop treating their customers like criminals.

Let's take the Windows XP licensing model. To implement that, Microsoft had to spend millions to set up the callcentres to handle license validation and to set up the infrastructure to manage this whole process (the online validations, etc). What is the value of this? From my point of view it looks like they only managed to alienate their customers as a customer now feels like a criminal. The people they really want to tie down with this system is still not affected as they just use cracked versions of XP or download a cracked key. I have heard many times that frustrated Windows XP users said that it is actually easier to download a cracked key for their legal version of Windows. So what is the point? Would Microsoft not be better off if they made a Home edition of XP or Vista available for free or at least very cheap and not impose a licensing model that makes the user feel like a criminal?

I am sure that this point about Windows licensing have been discussed many times, but I just could not help myself. :-)

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