In an effort to protect customers from pirated software (and protect the company's bottom line) Microsoft has announced that it is to expand Office Genuine Advantage and Software Protection Platform.
Here's the meat of the announcement made by Keith Beeman general manager or Genuine Software Initiative:
First, we expanded the Office Genuine Advantage Notifications program into 13 more countries, upping the total to 41 countries where the voluntary program offers end users enhanced protection against the risks of using non-genuine copies of Office, such as viruses and malfunctioning code.
In addition, we announced that Office 2010 will offer technology managers new tools, built on our Software Protection Platform (SPP), to better control how volume-licensing keys are activated and used as they roll out Office 2010 in their organizations. The introduction of SPP into Office 2010 will also make it harder for counterfeiters to defraud consumers by selling inferior, bogus copies of Office, as the product will have technical features that make the program harder to pirate.
Why the push?
Piracy hurts local economies by taking money away from legitimate businesses that sell or support software.
Purchasers of pirated software often discover they are missing key tools needed to make their software function properly, such as user manuals, product support, certificates of authenticity and sometimes even critical lines of code.
Also, pirated software can be highly vulnerable to malicious code, like viruses and spyware, that damage computers and put personal and proprietary business information at risk.
I buy the bit about piracy harming the economy (though I suspect that the the biggest hit is being taken by Microsoft), but the whole missing tools, missing lines of code and malware bit seems over the top to me. Sure, it's a good thing to give people confidence that the software they have installed on their PCs is genuine and properly licensed, but the initiatives that Microsoft is rolling out is more about finding bogus installs than it is about preventing installations from being illegally activated.
Once someone's been sold an illegal copy of Office (or Windows for that matter) then the damage, whether it be to the economy or the purchaser, has already been done.