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Microsoft goes after SMEs in Kenya using pirated software

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Technology firm Microsoft will sue local small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and individuals who use pirated versions of its software products in Kenya.
The firm said it would take to court SMEs and individuals currently using illegally versions of its Microsoft suite of office and other products. Microsoft Kenya country manager Kunle Awosika said the company had already sent 200 companies letters explaining its planned course of action.
He however explained that the firm had given amnesty to SMEs and individual users running through to January 15. “We have sent letters to 200 targeted customers in Kenya, mostly SMEs that have been using our products illegally. We believe that they use them mostly because they are not aware of the illegal activities.
The users are required to take up the products through a legitimate process that will include payment for the use of the Microsoft products going forward. Awosika said though getting hold of individual Kenyans is difficult, the firm could still track them using activation keys. The keys are used in activating software after being installed on a computer.
“For individuals customers, there are activation keys used in activating a programme and we can use that to follow them and not just the customers but the resellers who need to desist from importing and selling pirated software.” Awosika spoke when Microsoft and the Kenya Copyright Board (KECOBO) entered into an agreement to collaborate to fight piracy in the country.
Marisella Ouma KECOBO Executive Director said the partnership would enable them work together to activate continuous programmes and campaigns for educating the public on the risks and penalties associated with infringement of software copyrights and trademarks.
“We want to educate Kenyans on the benefits of genuine software to businesses in terms of reliability and security as well as other associated risks for businesses and consumers,” she said. An International Data Corporation (IDC) report on cyber security and software piracy globally showed that a third of all PC software globally have pirated software.
The study estimates direct business losses as a result of use of counterfeit software will hit $114 billion (Sh9.918 trillion) this year and places potential losses from data breach at $350 billion (Sh30.45 trillion)
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