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Microsoft not playing fair: Lawyer
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Microsoft's anti-piracy action in China has still not gained enough understanding from its millions of users as complaints about its "screen blackouts" are increasing in the country.

Dong Zhengwei, a lawyer, filed a complaint with the Ministry of Public Security last Tuesday.

Microsoft not playing fair: Lawyer

 A screen is turned black.

He filed another to the State Administration for Industry and Commerce yesterday, to the effect the company should be fined US$1 billion for violation of China's Anti-monopoly Law.

"For users of genuine Microsoft software, they do not have the duty to help the company in its anti-piracy campaign," the Beijing lawyer told China Daily yesterday.

"But Microsoft uses its monopoly to bundle its updates with the validation programs and forces its users to verify the genuineness of their software," he said.

This action breaches and hacks into the computer systems of millions of users who have bought the genuine software, he said.

"Microsoft should be fined US$1 billion," Dong said.

Yan Xiaohong, vice-minister of the National Copyright Administration (NCA), said at the 2008 international forum on copyright yesterday: "We doubt if blackouts are an effective way to solve the problem."

Microsoft launched the Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) program, which turns a user's screen black if installed software fails a validation test.

Involving at least 200 million computer users, the measure has sparked controversy among consumers and analysts.

According to a survey among 200,000 Internet users on sina.com, more than 80 percent of respondents thought the move would not be an effective way to curb piracy.

Microsoft said on Friday that the validation process does not just apply in China, but more than 20 markets worldwide, and that users have an option to verify or not.

Yan said proper pricing was the key issue in solving software piracy.

"Companies like Microsoft should think about readjusting its pricing policy in order to make its products more affordable. The past uniform price is irrational," Yan said.

At present, Microsoft Office 2007 costs 3,999 yuan (US$586). Last month, Microsoft launched a promotion for students to buy Office 2007 at 199 yuan.

Yan predicted office application software would face a big price jump in the near future.

Ni Guangnan, academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, believed Microsoft's high prices stem from its monopoly in China's market.

"We are qualified to explore high-level software with a great number of software engineers. What we lack is market share," Ni said yesterday.

(China Daily October 28, 2008)

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