Tuesday, 25 October 2011 15:33

Retailer admits Windows certificate of authenticity switcheroo



Microsoft has secured $50,000 damages from a NSW retailer selling unlicensed copies of Windows on PCs. The company had reused certificate of authenticity stickers from old hardware.


NSW-based The Laptop Factory Outlet (LFO) has agreed to pay $50,000 damages to Microsoft for infringing the company's copyright. LFO is said to have removed the Windows certificates of authenticity from old PCs and attached them to new units which were loaded with unauthorised copies of Windows.


Clayton Noble, attorney at Microsoft Australia, told iTWire "we bought two test PCs [from LFO]... we know they were unlicensed." He admitted that Microsoft had not tried to determine whether or not copies of Windows supplied by LFO contained any malware or other "nasties", but pointed out there was a risk of that happening in cases such as this since "pirated" copies of Windows circulating on certain download sites and torrents are known to be contaminated.

He said that while it may be possible for a retailer to clone an inadvertently infected system image onto a computer that is then sold with a Microsoft licence (as opposed to following the mandated procedure and installing directly from the individual disc provided by Microsoft to accompany the licence), "it wouldn't be worth the risk" to do so.

In addition to paying damages to Microsoft, LFO has agreed to provide previous customers with a factory-fresh copy of Windows and the corresponding certificate of authenticity at no extra charge.

"If a certificate of authenticity affixed to your new PC appears used or tampered with, or names a PC manufacturer that doesn't match the PC you bought, this is an indication of counterfeit software pre-loaded onto your PC," said Mr Noble.



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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.



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