back to article Microsoft and pals: Save the global economy by NOT ripping us off

Ditching dodgy software can rescue not just the UK from its financial worries, but the entire world, or so says the latest study from the Business Software Alliance. The BSA, comprising vendors including Microsoft, CA, Adobe, Apple and others, commissioned biz school INSEAD (once known as the Institut Européen d'Administration …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Roger Greenwood


    In the spirit of this report I just donated some more money to as I use LibreOffice.

    Will this improve the economy?

  2. Miek

    "Using properly licensed software reduces the risk and creates operating efficiencies that go direct to the bottom line for business," said Julian Swan, director of compliance marketing at the BSA EMEA.

    -- I am properly licensed, I use Open Source software thanks. No serials, registration or activation required.

  3. DJO Silver badge

    Move along please, nothing to see here

    To paraphrase Mandy Rice-Davies: They would say that, wouldn't they.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    A long time ago, I actually reported my employer to the BSA (well, my country's equivalent anyway), as I was being forced to use around $40k worth of pirated software on my work computer to do my job. As this was a large multinational with very full covers that they filled by charging 6 or 7 times my salary to clients and who would buckle like a wild bronco at the idea of giving us poor foot soldiers a 2% pay rise. I figured it was only fair for them to actually pay for the software.

    And it wasn't just me, it was everyone in the team, so around 20 people.

    The reaction? Absolutly nothing. We kept having to use said pirated software until I left and for all I know they still use it today. Perhaps they should spend less time preasuring gouvs and more time checking the inbox.

    1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

      1. ObSolutions, Inc

        Re: BSA

        ...unless you already have SOME of their software. In which case you have probably signed an agreement to the effect that they can turn up at any time to perform an audit.

        1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: BSA

            They have no legal right to enter your premises, without a warrant, but there is a type of warrant that can be issued to civilians with a court order. I can't remember it's actual name and it's usually accompanied by Police anyway, but they can enter your premises with this.

            1. Grogan

              Re: BSA

              But they won't have one of these warrants in hand when they come. You can call their bluff and have everything cleaned up if they show up again, escorted by real police officers.

              Personally, to be "squeaky clean" I would just have to dd a few virtual machines (I'm not PAYING for unwanted Windows versions just for testing a few things for support purposes) and everything else I use for work computers is Linux and free software. (I also have a legit Windows 7 install on one rig that I use only for games, with no other commercial software in it)

              They'd look pretty silly if they ever came here and I would not make it easy for them.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: BSA

              I belive that following a court order, a Warrant of Execution can be obtained. Baliffs can then use that authority to break into commercial properties (but not a person's home) to take property in lieu of the debt. There are also High Court writs....

              And the utility companies can use something similar to cut you off if you haven't paid.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: BSA

          Indeed it could be a term in the purchase/licence for the software that BSA are the software company's agent for enforcing the terms.

          And if you've agreed to an audit but don't let them snout around, they might think you've got something to hide and start with legal letters etc.

          Ultimately it probably comes down to contract law. And in contract law, the bigger-funded company often has the edge. And companies don't get the same protection from unfair terms as retail purchaser. You're expected to have the sense to check any contract and negotiate as necessary. (I know that doesn't happen but I think that's the laws assumption)

  5. g e

    So. Linux then.


    All those licensing savings will be good for the economy, yes?

    1. annodomini2

      Re: So. Linux then.

      Not necessarily,

      Yes you may save on a license cost.


      1. Training users for the new system, most are not beardy sys admins well versed in the inner workings of Linux.

      2. System effectiveness, effectively the cost of doing the task.

      3. System reliability. Cost of downtime.

      There are others.

      I'm not stating one is better than the other, but there are other costs to consider.

      1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

        1. Don Jefe

          Re: So. Linux then.

          The Munich migration was a complete debacle and it took nearly 10 years from project start to complete migration of just 13,000 PC's. Even now true cost savings in the aftermath are a subject of much debate. No business could have withstood the mass failure of that migration.

          The Munich migration is a great case study in project management and a great example of how Linux isn't magic. Arguably it proves that only über geeks can make it work easily enough (IBM, Google, NASA) to justify the switch.

          1. NinjasFTW

            Re: So. Linux then.

            I'm interested as to how you get to "complete debacle"?

            It was running behind schedule but thats about all I could find.

            I was curious and so started to look for anything that could back that up. All I came across was a report by HP (disputed by Munich) that was paid for by Microsoft that Microsoft wont even release to back up its findings

            1. Don Jefe

              Re: So. Linux then.

              They had three years in just planning then were still behind schedule for years, for relatively few PC's. There are plenty of non sponsored analysis of the project out there and some stories here on El Reg about it. Yes there were many factors involved (like any project) but the fact remains that from a project prospective it was a debacle.

              I'm not saying Linux was the failure, I'm saying the project was a failure and citing Munich is probably the worst possible example of a Linux migration. As I said, no normal business could have dealt with this level of awful. It would have killed the business or they would have been forced to reverse course and cancel the project.

              1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

                1. Don Jefe

                  Re: So. Linux then.

                  A successful project runs close to schedule and doesn't require last minute scale up of sub contractors for every unforeseen aspect of the project and regular one off expenses. Those one offs are why the actual cost savings are still debated. If you don't count the actual multi departmental one off expenses then yes, some money has been saved in licensing costs.

                  If you think the Munich project was successful then do project managers everywhere a favor and never get involved in the field. Alternatively you could be a politician, they only see what they want to...

                  1. Lars Silver badge

                    Re: So. Linux then.

                    @Don Jefe. In my experience most problems come from unrealistic schedules made by unrealistic people. Munich was determined enough to make it successful. Ballmer went to Munich at least twice but I think he is realistic enough not to do it again.

                2. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: So. Linux then.

                  @Eadon - 11M Euros over ten years in an organisation which has 13k desktops is pitiful. This is not a good way to big up Linux, were I not already experienced in Linux, I'd look at posts like the ones you make and conclude that people who know about Linux have no idea about business and Enterprise IT.

                  Fortunately, I know this not to be the case and I know that Munich was a massive cock up of a project, but also that Linux is really rather good.

          2. This post has been deleted by a moderator

            1. Getriebe

              Re: So. Linux then.

              "Munich accounts say that they saved 11 billion and counting. MS "sponsored" research to try to show that the project was a failure, but they retracted the report when Munich insisted that they really had saved 11 billion euros and counting."

              As someone said above - they would say that wouldn't they?

              I have on my team some German geeks who worked for a sub contractor on this - their story does not match the super slick, beautifully engineered uber alles view you are recounting


              1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

                1. El Andy

                  Re: So. Linux then.

                  @Eadon: "No forced upgrade path"

                  Really? Which Linux distro is still providing patches for their 2001 release?

            2. This post has been deleted by a moderator

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: So. Linux then.

                Funny, you mixed up millions and billions a previous time you were going on about Munich as well...

          3. Grogan

            Re: So. Linux then.

            Nah, it only proves that misinformed people are a vector for FUD.

            Don't believe everything (anything?) that comes out of Microsoft funded studies. Much of the cost of migration was in having to port specialized applications to the new platform. Those studies also did not differentiate between migration costs and normal maintenance costs that would have occurred had the systems all stayed with Windows, even counting updates as "migrations" to show that Microsoft software incurs less costs. The study also incorrectly attributed IT costs with the migration, for example thousands of IT staff that had other roles besides maintaining systems and would have been overhead anyway. The studies even added in "support contract costs" (based on Canonical's enterprise support fees) that the city did not pay for.

            So says the city of Munich.

            Also, in my opinion, as long as you have employees that resist the change (empowered by those vocal Microsoft fanboys you'll find in just about any organization that know nothing else... this is often why MIcrosoft wins, over better alternatives) it's going to be more trouble than it should be. I've seen that sort of shit first hand.

            I'd speculate that a real business may not have had quite as much of a "failure", because a real business would not have to put up with as much employee nonsense. There is nobody like pencil pushing government employees for entitlement issues and obstruction.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: So. Linux then.

          @Eadon, I think you are carried away a bit. Millions not Billions. But they have indeed been able to cut costs.

        3. annodomini2

          Re: So. Linux then.

          @Eadon, If you'd actually bothered to read my post I stated NO opinion either way.

          It was in response to the OP's statement that the cost of a few licenses would save the economy, which is not the entire cost.

          You are the one turning this into a Fanboy debate.

      2. TheOtherHobbes

        Re: So. Linux then.

        "1. Training users for the new system"

        Someone should have warned Redmond this might be an issue for businesses before Windows 8.

      3. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

        Beards are not compulsory

        The gnu from the FSF logo has an excellent beard, but beards are not required to use open source software. Tux does just fine without one. Wilbur holds a paint brush in his mouth, so is better off without a beard. I thought Linus proved this beard requirement stuff was a myth in 2009:

      4. MissingSecurity

        Re: So. Linux then.

        Umm..Companies needing to train people would mean they are spending money in (you guest it) the economy.

      5. Euripides Pants Silver badge


        > Training users for the new system, most are not beardy sys admins well versed in the inner workings of Linux.

        Please explain why it is harder to double click an icon in Linux than Windows

        1. annodomini2

          Re: @annodomini2

          I never said it was, however most general users are not intuitive, many are trained NOT to be intuitive.

          However many of the pro-linux brigade assume everything is simple.

    2. Schultz Silver badge

      Re: So. Linux then.

      There are different tools for different tasks. Choose the right tool, just don't make it an issue of belief.

  6. Dan 55 Silver badge

    But only if they promise not to funnel it through Ireland, The Netherlands, and the Cayman Islands.

  7. This post has been deleted by its author

  8. Tony Paulazzo

    Gone from...

    Windows 7 £134.71 Amazon (well ok, free on laptop)

    MS Office 2007 £155.00 (bought and paid for disk moved with me onto new systems)

    Photoshop & Dreamweaver CS3 £400 (Nice job paid for)

    Over to...

    Ubuntu 12.04 £20 Paypal donation

    Gimp (basic web editing pics only required) &

    LibreOfffice (formatting docx and xlsx files fine btw)

    Dreamweaver 8 £8.00 off Ebay (just can't find decent Ubuntu alternative)

    SME here.

  9. Lee D Silver badge

    How much money would be saved if we just made all governmental departments save in open, standardised formats suitable for the task at hand (i.e. not that pseudo-open MS junk they came up with to try to fend off ODF)?

    How much money would be made if people didn't HAVE to pay several hundreds pounds for Windows/Office for every single computer in the country, even those not running Windows/Office?

    I'm guessing more than MS would ever lose through piracy, intentional or not.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What a joke...does money grow on trees?

    Companies/Individuals currently using counterfeit software are spending the money they 'save' on other things that adds up to the GDP.

    If they were to suddenly start paying for software, they would have to stop paying for those other things. Thus this is akin to robbing Peter to pay Paul.

    It shouldn't lead to any increase in GDP, as it's simply a redistribution of the same money. But as long as MS, Adobe & Pals have the money, then the above minor details won't matter.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What a joke...does money grow on trees?

      It is possible that the positive effect on the GDP is actually greater when people use unlicensed software and spend their money on products with longer supply chains.

      1. Tom 35

        Re: What a joke...does money grow on trees?

        Maybe spent spent locally and not sent off to some offshore cash pile by way of Ireland?

  11. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    More candidates for the B-Ark

    I can't wait for it to take off. I can sanitize my phone myself.

    Additionally, the easiest way to up the GDP is to have the government write a huge amount of debt on itself, then just print the corresponding money which you then pretend to have "borrowed". Then spend it. The plebs of the B-Ark will say that they "owe it to themselves", the statisticians on the deck 5 will be happy and the inhabitants of bailout promenade will continue to live in luxury, at least until the final landing is applied. No need for licenses and whatever.

  12. Panicnow

    Pay tax, get protection

    If a corporation fails to pay reasonable local taxes, surely they should enjoy the protection of the local law!!!

    No representation without taxation!!!! to reverse the original Revolutionary rallying call

  13. This post has been deleted by a moderator

    1. DanDanDan

      Re: Save the Economy - Use Open Source - Keep money in Country!

      I was going to go on a rant about how bullionism isn't the answer to the economy and how it's a 16th Century ideal that should be eradicated... then realised who I was replying to and stopped.

  14. Mike 140

    "Quid pro quo, paid-for software would deliver £1.6bn in additional economic value to Blighty's fragile economy, "

    So instead of spending £1.6 bill on other things it is spent on paid-for software. I make -1.6 +1.6 = 0.

    Or is that unpaid 1.6 bill just kept under the mattress?

    1. DavCrav Silver badge

      "Or is that unpaid 1.6 bill just kept under the mattress?"

      It depends. Does it belong to Apple? If so, then yes.

  15. James 51

    One thing that always bugs me

    One pirated copy != One lost sale. I would be very surprised if the numbers stood up to proper scrutiny.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: One thing that always bugs me

      One pirated copy is very much a lost sale. It's a lost sale for the FOSS or indipendant software vendor's alternative, pirating COTS software arguably harms the FOSS movement more than it actually harms COTS.

      1. Tom 35

        Re: One thing that always bugs me

        Back when I worked in retail, and MS Office didn't have product activation companies bought Office (maybe not all the companies, and maybe they installed a few extra copies...), and everyone else copied it.

        You could not sell a low price home word processor, every one just used Word. It was a de facto standard. A few used MS Works as it was sort of like Word.

        It was not until product activation made casual coping more difficult that Open Office had a chance to grow.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Pay British Corporation Tax, that will help the economy rather than helping rich fat Americans become even richer fatter Americans

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Microsoft

      What does their nationality matter?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Microsoft

        It's not a case of matter, it's empirical evidence.

  17. relpy
    Paris Hilton

    Okay, so I don't condone software piracy but...

    What a remarkable load of tosh.

    Very similar to the RIAA saying that piracy costs them so many beellions - where's all this money actually going to come from?

    Paris, head in hands, despairs for these guys.

  18. David Hicks

    Errr, WTF?

    How in the hell do they decide that getting properly licensed software has a better ROI than pirated software? I'm really not saying you ought to pirate it. I use FOSS pretty exclusively and am consequently properly licensed.

    But, were I to rip off a copy of office (for instance) how would it benefit me to have paid MS?

    Again, I think if you use Office you should pay for it, but I'm not seeing how the fact of payment directly benefits the one doing the paying.

  19. Richard Wharram

    Does not compute

    My payment is funneled through Ireland and the low countries and ends up sat in the Cayman Islands until the corporation decides to purchase another company after which the value of that company will be written down by several billion when it turns out to be a lemon.

    Alternatively I could use that money to buy a bacon sandwich from a local shop every day for a month.

    Which of these looks like it would benefit GDP?

    1. Phil W

      Re: Does not compute


      Since the profits from buying said software licences would be funneled out of the country, with only VAT being paid by the customer (assuming they aren't VAT exempt or claiming it back as a business) I don't see how it would impact GDP at all, at least not in any positive way.

      A company spends £10,000 on MS licences which is declared as profit by MS in Ireland or wherever, the company claims back VAT. Total income to Microsoft £10,000 - VAT. Total income to HM Treasury £0. Also the company is now £10,000 worse off.

      Not supporting software piracy or advocating FOSS with this comment, but I am very much contesting how the above transaction improves GDP or helps with the government fiscal deficit in any way.

  20. Tom 7 Silver badge

    Pirated software

    for MS is in fact part of sales.

    It would be easy for MS* to make all their software paid for but they know that if they disable it people would quickly learn the advantages of FLOSS and its use would reach a tipping point and they'd be screwed.

    *Assuming they can find someone to write some simple licensing software that works for them.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is great news!

    "Every £1 spent on legit licensed software has an "estimated" ROI of £37, versus £24 for a pirated version, the BSA said."

    Everyone download and use some pirated software, if we all can add £24 to the economy by spending nothing, what's to loose? A quick search shows 35.89M PC users in the uk, if we all download wrd, exsell & pooerpoint, that's £2.5B, that should help the cononmy or alternatively could buy the BSA and shut them down!

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No returns

    Give more money to the software companies and in turn, the country benefits because of what? The taxes these companies pay the government?

    Pull the other one!

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    a quote on Munich

    "In a 2010 webpost, Florian Schießl, one of the architects of the project, admitted that they had underestimated the difficulty of the task and labeled their initial approach “naive”. "

    Just as an example that planning is everything. Problems they met may have followed from not having the full picture before they started the project. Under those conditions both open source and proprietary would have had trouble.

    1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

  24. Anton Channing

    "What the thinker thinks, the prover proves" ~ Robert Anton Wilson...

    This was not an objective survey. Such an organisation started out trying to prove what they wanted to believe. They had decided what they wanted the result to be in advance and then found a way of making the numbers work in their favour.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm getting another message from the details:

    "Every £1 spent on legit licensed software has an "estimated" ROI of £37, versus £24 for a pirated version, the BSA said."

    Translation: Save yourself some money by pirating the software. You will get most of the benefits for free! You may be able to close that gap further by spending the money saved on other things that will enhance your business.

  26. Lars Silver badge

    Save the global economy by NOT ripping us off

    Save our economy by NOT ripping us off. Sounds more to the truth although I think Microsoft has perhaps gained from being copied too in markets where nobody had the money to pay for Microsoft anyway. Still "global economy" related to the success of Microsoft is horse shit.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Save the global economy by NOT ripping us off

      hit the nail on the head with this one. Slam dunk - MS claims dismissed.

  27. Hoe

    License fees...

    So would the 100s of businesses who go bust trying to get up to date and correct software wise also help the economy?

    Or do they just mean their Economy's, I.E. Their Bank Accounts!

    *Not that I am defending the use of pirated software, just an observation, real problem here is often the silly costs involved.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    better idea how to add more $bn into the "global coffers"

    "A one per cent rise in paid-for software would inject an "estimated" $73bn into the global coffers, compared to $20bn from pirated wares."

    My take: let's go for a modest four per cent rise in pirated wares instead.

  29. Azzy

    Correlation =/= causation

    So, countries in which companies can afford properly licensed software have higher GDP growth? Never would have thought!

    Countries where companies don't think they can get away with piracy, due to a strong legal system have higher GDP growth? Such a remarkable discovery!

  30. zb

    The way I see it is that Microsoft and pals want us to give them £2bn of extra revenue. This will appear as profit for their Bermuda operation and not a penny of tax will be paid.

    The first alternative is to pay a smaller amount to a bunch of dodgy dealers who are probably foreign based and will not pay any tax either.

    The second alternative is to use free software, not pay anybody anything and employ some extra programmers to contribute to free software projects. If this involves extra training costs (dubiously assuming that Windows 8 requires no training at all) it will be affordable and add to the GNP.

    It looks a n easy choice for most companies.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fuck off.

    You arseholes. We already have cunts in the Intellectual "Property" brigade who want to go to war with other countries over a bit of copied fucking software. Psychopaths, every fucking one of them.

    Fuck off, and take your shitty IP concepts and your even shittier software with you. You are not wanted, you are not needed, and I hope you die soon and do the world a favour.

  32. Youngdog

    After careful analysis of the issue I need my phone... call BULLSHIT!!!

    Really? REALLY??? How on earth can you compare ROIs? Who the feck is paying for pirated software? And as Mr Wharram astutely noted the impact to GDP is the same if you spent the difference on Bacon Butties - and more if the local breadable vendor complies with the spirit of the countries tax laws!

    This desperate, weaslely (and no doubt expensive and time consuming) report is just an insult to our intelligence. Nice to know what MS, Adobe et al really think of their customers...

    1. Richard Wharram

      Re: After careful analysis of the issue I need my phone...

      Thanks :)

  33. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    I'm starting to understand their accounting practices

    You pay £1, they write down £37.

    Really ? Where do the other £36 come from ?

    Such calculations may work in La-La land, but in the real world when you pay £100, the intermediaries get £90 and the producer gets 10£ (if he's lucky). And concerning the GDP argument, pay your taxes, then come back and talk about GDP. As long as you do everything you can to avoid taxes, I don't see why any country should waste money defending your products.

    In any case, that certainly explains the RIAA's method for calculating the amount of the "fines" counting in millions for a few uploads.

    Well I'm off that boat anyway, I use LibreOffice. Does 100% of what I need, so I see no reason to pay for more.

    1. Euripides Pants Silver badge

      Re: I'm starting to understand their accounting practices

      >Where do the other £36 come from ?

      They pull it out of their asses.

This topic is closed for new posts.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2020