Microsoft boss decries software piracy by China firms

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Microsoft chief executive Steve Ballmer on Friday decried the use of pirated software by Chinese businesses.

"One of the things that has improved a lot around the world is business piracy, and yet when we look at China today business piracy is more extreme than consumer piracy," he told a business forum in Madrid.

"We are working hard with the support of the Chinese government to improve the situation but it is a real problem," the head of the world's largest software maker added.

The Business Software Alliance, a Washington-based trade group, estimates that 79 percent of China's computers ran on pirated software last year.

It estimates the value of pirated software in China almost doubled to 7.58 billion dollars (5.44 billion euros) from 2005 to 2009, the steepest increase in the world.

Microsoft says it generates less revenue in China than in India and South Korea, even though China's gross domestic product is twice that of the other two economies combined.

It blames the lack of progress in protecting intellectual property in the Asian giant for draining away potential revenue.

In June, Ballmer and the chief executives of 11 other leading software companies met with US lawmakers and top officials in President Barack Obama's administration in hopes of persuading them to step up pressure on China to crack down on the illegal copying.

The meeting came two months after Microsoft won a decision from a Shanghai court against a Chinese insurance company that was running 450 copies of pirated Microsoft software.

The Business Software Alliance wants the Chinese government to ensure that government offices and businesses use only licensed software and to refrain from compelling intellectual property transfers as the cost of doing business.

© 2010 AFP

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