Microsoft continued to smoke out what it considers to be shadowy denizens of its channel, filing lawsuits against 20 software resellers in 13 states for distributing counterfeit or improperly licensed products.
The latest legal salvo is part of Microsoft's ongoing Genuine Software Initiative, which aims to educate consumers and businesses of the many different ways in which they can end up with illegitimate software running on their networks.
Microsoft has been particularly vocal in recent months about its successes in bringing software pirates to justice. In August, a U.S. court sentenced a Georgia man convicted of using fake certificates of authenticity to sell pirated versions of Microsoft software to 46 months in prison.
Steve Schulte, a partner at Capital Network Solutions, Sacramento, Calif., says Microsoft's antipiracy efforts help stamp out the spread of unscrupulous licensing behavior that makes life difficult for other channel partners.
"We've ran into a couple of scenarios in virtual environments where resellers have taken licenses and pushed them onto other servers. Not only is that unethical, it also hurts us when we're going into competitive bids," said Schulte.
Schulte noted that Microsoft is in the process of adopting the antipiracy tactics of Citrix, another Capital Network Solutions partner, which requires its software to be activated on the back end using licensing keys.
Microsoft is aware of the problem with counterfeit licenses, and last month launched the Get Genuine Windows Agreement (GGWA), which allows organizations that have been duped into buying illegitimate versions of Windows XP Professional to obtain volume licensing agreements and avoid liability issues that stem from running illegal software.
But some of Microsoft's antipiracy technologies have caused headaches for legitimate users. In August, Microsoft fixed a glitch in Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA), the validation scheme for Windows XP and Vista, which was flagging some genuine versions of Windows as pirated ones.