Largest Haul of Counterfeit Office 97 Recovered in the United Kingdom

REDMOND, Wash., Jan. 20, 1999 — Microsoft Corp. officials today announced they have recovered 55,000 counterfeit Microsoft® Office 97 CD-ROMs in a raid on locked premises in Berkshire, England, during the holidays. Had the software been genuine, it would have had a total street value of approximately $33 million U.S. During the past four months, Microsoft has recovered approximately $115.5 million U.S. in counterfeit software in the United Kingdom.

The latest recovery of software is believed to be a portion of the 100,000 counterfeit copies of Microsoft Office 97 that Microsoft warned United Kingdom customers and retailers about before the holidays. Counterfeit products often lack key elements, such as user manuals and product identifications, Certificates of Authenticity or software code. Microsoft further cautions that counterfeit software may also contain harmful viruses.

“If this software had reached the market, it could have damaged customers’ computers and seriously eroded sales of legitimate distributors and retailers,” said Mark Lange, corporate attorney for Microsoft European headquarters in Paris. “Unfortunately, large quantities of this counterfeit product may still be on the market, and there is widespread illegal distribution of software on the Internet and in the channel. To avoid being duped, we recommend that our customers acquire software from reputable outlets and become familiar with the warning signs that can help them identify counterfeit or illegal software.”

The counterfeit CDs in the raid were packaged in jewel cases without the necessary End User License Agreement and Certificate of Authenticity. Packages of up to 40 of these jewel cases were allegedly being sold to resellers inside brown boxes falsely stamped with “Rejected by EOC” stickers. Part of the scam was to convince customers that the CDs were genuine Microsoft products that were rejected for quality reasons by the European Operations Centre, the operations division of Microsoft that manages the distribution of retail software throughout Europe.

Other warning signs of pirated software include the following:

  • Prices that are “too good to be true.” These may indicate counterfeit product or product that has been misdirected, such as product authorized for distribution only to educational institutions but offered to the general public.

  • Backup disks or CD-ROMs with handwritten labels, or components that appear to be of inferior quality

  • Manuals that appear to be photocopied or are of inferior quality

  • Products marked with a phrase, such as “For distribution with a new PC only,” “Special CD for licensed customers only,” “Not for retail or OEM distribution” or “Academic price – not for use in a commercial environment,” that does not describe the transaction

An estimated three tons of counterfeit Microsoft software was crushed by a giant steamroller during an event at Microsoft’s U.K. campus yesterday. The visual demonstration commemorated months of work to thwart software piracy in the United Kingdom by Microsoft investigators, local and national police forces, trading standards and the Business Software Alliance.

Customers or resellers with questions about the legitimacy of Microsoft products should contact the Microsoft anti-piracy hot line, toll free, at (800) RU-LEGIT (785-3448), or send
e-mail to [email protected]. In addition, a list of authorized distributors and details regarding the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) System Builder program is available at . Consumers can obtain more information about software piracy by calling the Business Software Alliance anti-piracy hot line at (888) NO-PIRACY (667-4722) or sending e-mail to [email protected].

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software for personal computers. The company offers a wide range of products and services for business and personal use, each designed with the mission of making it easier and more enjoyable for people to take advantage of the full power of personal computing every day.

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