China software pirates get Black Screen of Death

How dare they make us pay for Windows, they squeal. Users of bootleg versions of Windows in China are now getting the Black Screen of Death and a warning to make their copy legal.

Same thing happened to me a few years back. One of my computers had, um, a copy of XP that must have fallen off the back of a truck or something. After a while, it told me to make it legal or suffer the consequences. The price was quite reasonable. Which is what Microsoft is doing in China now too, offering low-cost upgrades.

“China’s not really very important to our business right now,” Steve [Ballmer] said in Australia last week. “I’d like it to be but it’s not because of the high rate of piracy of intellectual property. We need some IP reform in China for it to be important to our financial results.”

I only have one piece of cracked software now, a text editor that costs $19.95, a price I would happily pay but their website is gone and thus there’s no way to register it. So I googled for a registration code – and found one on a pirate site.

Whenever possible, I use open source. WordPress. The GIMP image editor. OpenOffice. There’s lots of great open source software out there. But with commercial software, it’s just easier to pay for it rather than run the risk of having it stop working. And it’s the right thing to do.