Fake Vista

Can you figure out which disc above is a counterfeit copy of Windows Vista? Most people probably wouldn’t be able to tell which is why software piracy is an increasing problem for both the people looking to purchase applications as well as the companies developing the software.

One of the largest counterfeit software manufacturing busts ever was made yesterday in China. More than 290,000 counterfeit software CD’s and COA’s (certificates of authenticity) were seized in the bust, and it all comes to a whopping retail value of $500 million! I’m sure it will shock a few of you, but some of the credit goes back to Microsoft’s Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) program. Yep, that annoying little thing that makes sure the Windows you’re running is genuine has actually done some good, as the Windows Vista Blog points out:

Beyond the sheer size of the bust, the most exciting aspect for MS’ WGA (Windows Genuine Advantage) team is knowing that WGA played a role in it. More than 1,000 customers in 12 different countries who had purchased counterfeits from this particular source used WGA to learn their software was counterfeit, submitted the counterfeits to Microsoft, and forensic and intelligence specialists then traced the counterfeits back to the criminal syndicate in China.

I’m wondering what those people get who submitted the pirated software to Microsoft. According to the Genuine Windows site it is possible that they would receive a complimentary replacement disc. Of course, that could be a lot of replacements that Microsoft would have to give away, but in the long run it would surely be worth it.

For those of you wanting more information here are some of the details from the FBI’s report:

The operation, codenamed “Summer Solstice,” began in 2005 and since then, law enforcement in both countries have worked closely by sharing information to jointly investigate multinational conspiracies by groups who manufacture and distribute counterfeit software products around the world. This unprecedented cooperative effort led to the arrest of twenty five individuals, the search of multiple businesses and residential locations, asset seizures by the Chinese government worth over $7 million, and the seizure of over 290,000 counterfeit software CDs and COAs (certificates of authenticity) in China. The counterfeit software has an estimated retail value of $500 million. In addition, Agents with the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office executed 24 searches and asset seizure warrants, yielding approximately $2 million in counterfeit software products, in addition to assets seized by the U.S. government worth over $700,000.

I still can’t get over how similar the two Vista discs are from the beginning of the article. So did you figure out which Vista disc was fake? The one on the left is real, and the one on the right is fake.

Source: Windows Vista Blog, Download Squad, and Windows Connected