To check piracy of its software, Microsoft on Wednesday announced that it would launch pre-paid cards in India before this year-end.
The pre-paid system has been a success in Brazil where it is being currently tested. Also known as 'Pay-as-you-go', powered by Microsoft® FlexGo™™ technology, the scheme -- as it works in Brazil -- will require customers to pay upfront 50 per cent cost of the computer and buy pre-paid cards from the company showrooms or retailers for hourly access to the computer.
The technology alerts users as time is consumed and shows them how to add more hours by typing in a number from the pre-paid card. If time is not added, the personal computer gradually moves into a "reserve tank" or limited-access state until the customer purchases more time either online or at local vendors. The moment someone tries to copy the software, it will go on a self-destruct mode.
The computer becomes the customer's property after a set number of hours are purchased.
Craig Mundie, chief research and strategy officer, Microsoft Corporation, made the announcement in Delhi. "In Brazil, we are testing the pre-paid card and we will launch it in India. This will be one of the alternate models to fight piracy," Mundie said.
Microsoft India spokeswoman Meenu Handa told Hindustan Times, "In Brazil, it has been very successful. We cannot comment how and exactly when it will be marketed in India. We are working on various aspects." The buzz in the IT market was that the cards would be launched during the Dussehra festival.
Cyber-law expert Pawan Duggal said the concept looked good. "However, the challenge would be to run it in a highly piracy-infested market of India. Further, such an initiative would need legal infrastructure support," he said. The software-piracy level in India is close to 73 per cent.
Earlier this year, Ravi Venkatesan, chairman, Microsoft India, had said in a statement: "There are more than 50 million pre-paid mobile phones in India so we know this is a familiar and comfortable model that works in markets with low or unstable income levels."
"Bringing this flexibility to PC ownership will help new groups of customers in India thereby bridging the digital divide, a cause which Microsoft India is committed to," the statement said.
Highlighting the need to fight piracy using all available measures, Sunil Mehta, vice-president, National Association of Software and Services companies, said, "The key success of an anti-piracy move is the ability to successfully enforce it in the market."
Microsoft is in advanced stage of discussions with hardware vendors like HCL, Intel, Lenovo, ICICI Bank and Bajaj Auto Finance Limited to market the software through pre-paid system.