Microsoft Makes Anti-Piracy Move

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By JOE McDONALD
The Associated Press
Wednesday, November 7, 2007; 6:24 AM

BEIJING -- Microsoft Corp. and China's No. 2 personal computer maker signed an agreement Wednesday to pre-install Microsoft's Windows operating system in PCs to combat widespread Chinese product piracy.

The agreement with Founder Technology Group Corp. shows "the commitment of both companies to protect intellectual property rights," the companies said in a joint statement.

Founder also will sell Microsoft keyboards, Webcams and other hardware in more than 500 stores across China, the companies said.

"Our partnership with Founder is an essential part of our strategy here in China and around the world," Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer said at a signing ceremony.

Founder President Qi Dongfeng, speaking at a news conference later, declined to say how much the Chinese company would pay Microsoft. Qi said Founder expects to pre-install Windows on nearly all its consumer PCs and about 40 percent of its business computers.

Ballmer did not take questions from reporters or mention piracy directly in his comments.

China is the world's leading source of illegally copied software, music and other goods. Foreign officials and business groups say the scale of piracy is growing despite increased Chinese enforcement.

Some 82 percent of software used in China last year was pirated, well above the Asian regional average of 55 percent, according to an industry group, the U.S.-based Business Software Alliance.

Microsoft, based in Redmond, Wash., has been pursuing tie-ups with Chinese equipment makers to discourage use of unlicensed copies of its products.

In March, the country's biggest PC maker, Lenovo Group, agreed to pre-load Microsoft's tool bar and Web search software on its computers.

Beijing-based Founder also will pre-load Microsoft's Windows Live system on PCs equipped with Windows for the next two years, the companies said. The system includes programs for e-mail, instant messaging, blogging and sharing photos.

The package includes Microsoft's search service Live Search, which could help the company compete for traffic in China with the country's dominant search engine, Baidu.com Inc., and Google Inc.

Lenovo also has agreed to pre-load Windows live in laptop and desktop computers.


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© 2007 The Associated Press

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