As the biggest software company in the world, Microsoft clearly has the largest vested interest in preventing software piracy and is pretty proactive about it. Today it has announced settlements with 12 more resellers, all of whom admitted to selling software (presumably Microsoft's) illegally. Five of them are based in Manchester.
It looks like the resellers are mainly guilty of hard disk loading - the installation of a single copy of a piece of software on multiple PCs. At this level Microsoft usually seeks to get the reseller to see the error of their ways, rather than press for more severe sanctions, but things can escalate rapidly if the practice is persisted with.
Microsoft, as ever, is positioning this activity as being for the greater good of the channel, as every bit of dodgy software sold theoretically means a legitimate product isn't. "Historically, many in the channel have seen piracy as a relatively low priority - an irritation that could be ignored or put up with as long as business was good," said Scott Dodds, GM of SMEs and partners group, Microsoft UK.
"However, at a time when the Federation of Small Business claims 120 businesses a day are going bust, Microsoft is working hard to stamp out unfair competition that puts pressure on resellers' margins, and also threatens to drive them out of business. Most resellers can't afford to live with even small losses to illegal traders, who will almost certainly be undercutting them."
Incidentally, Microsoft has also announced the availability of its Business Productivity Online Suite to organisations of all sizes from today. It's also being offered at a 25 percent discount if you buy it before the end of June.