PETALING JAYA: A well-established piracy network may be behind pirated copies of early versions of Microsoft’s yet-to-be-released Windows operating system currently being sold in the country.
Microsoft Malaysia corporate attorney Jonathan Selvasegaram said popular consumer products like software, music and movies sold through illegal channels had been known to be available before official release dates.
The operating system in question – codenamed Longhorn – is only expected to be commercially released in 2006, but local pirates are already selling pre-release versions of it.
“We believe there is an intricate network at work,” Selvasegaram told The Star.
Reuters reported on Monday that pirated copies of Longhorn were being sold at a shopping complex in Johor Baru.
Selvasegaram said the copies could be pre-commercial release versions of Longhorn which were made available to legitimate software developers recently, or even earlier versions which were leaked on the Internet in March.
He added that the pirated Longhorn software was “not an isolated case” – Microsoft’s Windows Server 2003, launched earlier this year, was also pirated and put on sale before its actual release date.
Selvasegaram said the current Longhorn software was meant only for developer preview, review and testing, and should not be used in a consumer or business environment as it was not a complete product.
Local software pirates are notorious for pirating any software which could potentially be sold, including patches and fixes which can actually be downloaded for free by users, limited-feature trial versions of released software, and even demo CDs with little computing functionality.
“Our concerns lie with customers who may be misguided into thinking they are purchasing commercial release versions,” said Selvasegaram.
He said customers who used the illegal copy were doing so at their own risk and were exposing themselves to vulnerabilities, as illegal software could lack key elements and documentation, and did not come with a warranty.
“Untested software may be infected by viruses that could damage computers and cripple networks,” he added.
The local software piracy rate stood at 68% last year, and has been hovering around that figure for the last several years, according to anti-piracy watchdog Business Software Alliance.