Microsoft claimed on Monday that it was forced to change the way it enforces its software licensing, after detecting evidence of widespread use of unlicensed copies of Office.
As many as a third of Office packages could be unlicensed, the company said.
The figures came from to Michala Alexander, Microsoft's head of anti-piracy, who told ZDNet UK that the figure of 33 percent is for UK users. It is the percentage of people who voluntarily registered to use Office Genuine Advantage (OGA) and found that they did not have a genuine copy of Office.
"It is a very high percentage when you consider that the rate for Windows is just 12 percent," said Alexander. "And when you consider that the BSA's (Business Software Alliance) figure for all software is 27 percent."
A total of 80,000 people in the UK have voluntarily joined the OGA scheme. "I think the proportion of people who want to try out the OGA site is particularly high for Office," Alexander said.
As of Friday, users can't download Office Online templates from within Microsoft Office System 2007 applications without first proving that they are using a licensed copy of Office.
Microsoft is also planning further measures — from January 2007, Office Update also must be validated by Office Genuine Advantage (OGA). The OGA scheme was introduced in April as a pilot.
But Alexander insisted that the changes would not mean that users could lose the functions within Office. "They only apply to updates and templates and everybody will be able to use Office." Alexander said she could not say what percentage of people used Office templates but agreed it was "probably quite a lot".