updated 01:40 pm EST, Mon February 19, 2007
Ballmer Blames Piracy
Illegal copying is a key reason for Vista's poorer sales, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has told analysts. In addition to warning financial experts that sales of the new OS would fall short of some expectations, the company chief has openly attributed the underwhelming launch to wide-scale piracy in developing countries known to bootleg the majority of their software. Upgrade sales were known to have tumbled versus the five-years-old launch of Windows XP.
Controlling their access was described as a key to turning around Vista's fortunes. "Piracy reduction can be a source of Windows revenue growth," Ballmer said.
Controversially, however, the Microsoft leader also suggested that the company's main solution would be to tighten its Windows Genuine Advantage protection scheme. Known as WGA, the technology lets Microsoft remotely validate systems before they can run specific features or updates, in some cases disabling OneCare anti-malware protection and other tools on suspected bootlegs. WGA drew criticism from many last year as the mild form of the protection implemented in Windows XP generated false positives, locking out legitimate users.
"We [want to] really ferret through how far we can dial [WGA] up, and what that means for customer experience and customer satisfaction," Ballmer said.