Singapore raids net pirated Windows XP

Police sweeps have turned up more than 4,000 pirated copies of Microsoft software, dominated by Windows XP

More than 4,000 copies of Microsoft products were seized in police raids of pirated software in Singapore.

Seven raids were conducted in October, across the island's heartlands like Toa Payoh, Ang Mo Kio, Marine Parade and Bedok North. This is because activity at the traditional centre of pirated goods, Sim Lim Square, has largely been stamped out by police action. The raids turned up over 4,000 pieces of illegal Microsoft goods.

About 80 percent of these were of the software giant's Windows XP system, which premiered on 25 October in the US and Europe, and arrived in Singapore a day later. The pirated CDs were retailing at S$5 (£2) to S$10 (£3.85) apiece, compared with S$389 for the genuine Windows XP Home edition and S$569 for the Professional edition.

Microsoft corporate attorney Katharine Bostick said in a statement that the pirates wanted to exploit the worldwide marketing effort for Windows XP. "Not only are these pirates ripping off legitimate software retailers," she said, "they are exploiting the creativity, hard work and investment made by software developers and industry partners."

According to research commissioned by the Business Software Alliance (BSA), the Republic suffers from a 50 percent piracy rate--higher than the global average of 37 percent.

However, the copes seized in October are by no means the first copies of XP to appear in the region. As early as September, CNETAsia reported that illicit copies of the OS were available in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia for as little as US$1.50.

"Piracy is theft," said Bostick. "Those selling counterfeit software are stealing the income of legitimate Singapore retailers and saddling consumers with inferior copies."

Microsoft issued the same warning it gave to consumers in Kuala Lumpur. Counterfeit software, it said could be defective, missing key elements such as code, and could even have viruses. Users of illegal software are also ineligible for technical support, warranty protection or upgrades.

The number of people apprehended in the raid was not given. However, those convicted of piracy can face up to seven years' imprisonment.

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