software piracy in India

I always tried to figure out that in spite of the fact that India will become one of the largest PC markets in the future and that India SW engineers are everywhere, why is there no mainstream software in Indian languages. Yea there is Windows Hindi, and I read somewhere that Windows Bengali is also coming up, but thats after years of existance of Windows in other not so prevalent languages. I always got the answer that this is mainly due to SW piracy. Its so prevalent here that almost no one pays for software and hence the SW companies do not have revenue motive to localize their software for India. A further study revealed that 63% of al PCs in India ship with pirated Windows!!!! A person who is ready to use a pirated OS, will surely not pay for any other software he installs on that box. So this can lead to millions of dollars lost in revenue for the SW companies.


Its so bad here that frankly till date I have rarely seen a home user using a legitimate copy of Windows. Even when I have seen that, it was in branded PCs which came pre-installed with the OS. The moment I congratulated someone for using a legitimate OS, within a minute he figures out that he was made to pay for the OS by the PC vendor, and he felt bad that he could have got the pc for less if he had a way for not opting for the OS.


This issue is not only with home users, its every where, its in cyber cafe's, in SOHO, even in mid size organization and colleges. PC vendors are adding fuel to fire by shipping PCs with Linux pre-inslalled on them. This serves as a simple solution to buy a branded PC at a lower cost. People buy this PC, goes home and installs Windows from pirated CDs which cost them around Rs.100, thats a little more than $2. So now you have a branded PC running Windows sans the price.


Many have suggested that low cost software is a solution to this. I absolutely do not agree with this. It may be a part of a solution but not the solution in itself. SW piracy has become so prevalent that no one feels like paying for it. You are considered a fool if you pay. What is required is a change in the way of thinking, user education and pride of ownership. People need to know that its equivalent to stealing, and is a punishable offense. This is a bad thought though, with 63% of all PCs shipping with pirated OS, it brings most my friends and relatives who own a PC in this category...

Comments (31)
  1. Your Point is noted.

    Can you Please give a few pointers to resolve this crisis ?

  2. abhinaba says:

    The resolution is very difficult. For larger companies, the solution is somewhat simpler. They can afford user education, provide value added service to registered customers and additional hard copy materials with the SW to make buying them more lucrative. They can also influence policy makers to be serious about SW piracy and help them stop it.

    Other than that, online product activation is also an unique tool. This is kind of fool-proof. However, in India with very few computers having a net connection it is again very difficult to impose. But one thing is for sure, using SW expiry or other SW mechanisms are of no use, because experience shows that they always get broken.

  3. Well,

    You make a few interesting points. But considering the huge market that India posseses, MS will have to market its products more effectively and provide more information about benefits of buying software rather than pirating it. Till that point, this huge base of users will continue to pirate.

    One of the main factors is definitely the price. MS could charge 100 bucks for MS Office but that would be equivalent to something like Rs. 4800. I don’t think any user would be willing to pay that much money when the option of a Rs. 100 pirated copy is available without any visible benefits (atleast for him or her).

    I might be using a very crude analogy, but if a company like Suzuki can come in and market cheap cars, MS is too big and powerful themselves not to do it.

    As far as education and policy changes are concerned, these things are easily said than done my friend. It would be nice if you could come up with a concrete plan about what to do with it.

    Lastly, online product activation maybe kind of fool-proof, but it creates a lot of hassles also. Recently three of my friends switched to Linux due to some unfortunate problems in installing XP SP2.

    I am a supporter of what MS does and feel that it is wrongly targeted at times, but still you guys can do better than what you are doing.


    A concerned student.

    P.S. IE product dev. team should be relieved of their duties.

  4. Sanjay says:

    Hi all

    I am a big Anti-Piracy guy.

    I mean I preach about such bullshit but never put them into practice.

    Look I am an Indian like all the thousands of others.

    The basic thing as was mentioned earlier is the Pricing Problem.

    Rs6000 for some software is rubbish.

    And you won’t even find such things in even the biggest malls.

    These originals don’t sell.

    63% is bullshit.

    I say 90%.

    On the other hand it is mere negligence on the part of the consumer.

    Most of the time it is the parents who buy the computers for their children.

    They usually don’t know or bother of such issues.

    So it is left upto to the seller to install the software.

    Computer Sellers are cooly ignore such issues of piracy.

    They need to attract more PC buyers offering the chapest price with tuff competition going on.

    So it is upto the government to stop such illegal activities.

    It is upto them to ensure that these guys install the original versions of these software.

    People should be given the feeling that OS and other software prices are a part of the computer and not add-on prices that they would like to reduce.

  5. Nice blog says:

    Your site is realy very interesting.

  6. Dear sir,

    Kindly complaint about piracy of software in india to any high authority of this field.


    navaneet mishra

  7. Minkai says:

    Hi Abhinaba.

    I have a theory I would like to test with you.

    I came to think that part of the reason why India became such a major Information Technology (IT) Powerhouse in the last decade is due to the fact that India did not enforce Intellectual Property (IP) rights in that it allowed for software piracy to happen.

    In other words, I think that India is what it is today in terms of IT because it allowed itself to become computer litterate by means of allowing piracy.  With all the software available cheaply, the yougn generation learned how to use the diverse software and therefore become software knowlegegable which allowed them to become a working force in terms of IT.

    Imagine if all software would have been IMPOSSIBLE to pirate, and would have been sent at full price, then it can be assumed that Indian workers would not have been able to buy the software and therefore become "good" with computers and therefore we wouldn’t have an India as it is today?

    What do you think?


  8. Minkai, that’s an interesting theory and I believe it to be partially true. Partially becuase these days there are many free software which in many cases is not as good as there commercial counterparts, but is good enough to learn stuff. For example Open source compilers and IDE is sufficient if you want to learn programming

  9. Minkai says:

    I agree that these days we can use Eclipse and Tomcat etc and start learning Java.

    But 10 years ago, we had to "buy" JBuilder and others cause nothing else was free / open-source.

    So the fact that Indian’s took the liberty of pirating JBuilder and others back then when they were young made it so that now they became an IT PowerHouse.

    Imagine if Piracy would have been IMPOSSIBLE back then, most Indians wouldn’t have been able to buy all the programs they pirated and LEARNED FROM.  India wouldn’t be where they are today.

    Now US based companies are happy that they can outsource to quality IT resources in India at cheap prices.

    So in essence, they are happy of this externality of piracy.

  10. roy says:

    The profit margins for Microsoft are higher than illegal drugs

    Software piracy must be encouraged!

    What does Microsoft want?

    That only those who can afford to shell out Rs 5000 must be able to use the software?

    I hope that more and more people copy the software

    After all, Bill Gates has enough

  11. Jagadeesh J says:

    Hi !!

    I agree with one and all that Copies Software or pirated Software is against the law and it is stealing.

    But then then why is the software product not copy protected like many many products in the market ? It is not impossible to copy protect. I feel Microsofts of the World would like people all over to get used to their products and they they cry foul saying there is piracy.  Let these guys have the products copy protected.

    Secondly Affordadility is the issue. Not all users of PC can afford to buy all the software. The product owners must see this as an opportunity reduce the prices and if that is done automatically the volumes will go up and their product sales will boom and as a result, the rate of piracy will be down.

    The way the PC sales are going up, the costs of software especially like of OS, Word processors and spreadsheets has to reduce to the 10% of its current price. Other wise I dont see the piracy rates coming down.

    The way to go forward to Copy protect the Software and Reduce the costs substantially so it besomes afforadable.  A Win-Win situation for all …

  12. Bodhisatva says:

    The main problem is that the pricing of the software is the same EVERYWHERE. A 100USD goes a long way here in India. 250USD, is a humongous amount of money and not something a lot of us can pay at the drop of hat. It is rather asinine to expect third world countries that are battling with the absolute basic problems of food and shelter to be able to afford the "exhorbitant" international price. After all, contrary to what most people think, US is not the center of the universe.

    Most book manufacturers have found a solution to this "pricing problem" by introducing something known as "LPEs" or Low Price Editions. Depending,  on the region, LPEs can be appropriately priced.

    A book which costs 3500 INR there (in the US) costs a little less than 350 bucks here.(and containing the same stuff but lacking the "sexed-up packing").

    Making statements like "People need to know that its equivalent to stealing, and is a punishable offense." etc etc… is irresponsible and very supercilious. If you have been born with a silver spoon in your mouth.. WELL GOOD FOR YOU! But there are mils of others for whom spending 4-12K on just the OS is NOT a viable option.

    Think about it…

  13. Ganapathi says:

    The above posting made a big deal of USD100. People aren’t saving money by pirating software, they actually have a budget in mind, say Rs 40000 when they buy a computer. The choice is made to spend the entire budget on as powerful hardware instead of allocating any amount for software. It could have been possible to spend less on hardware and legalize the OS for the same budget.

    In most cases people get installed the professsional of softwares like Adobe-Photoshop, Ahead-Nero, Microsoft-Office-Professional, Rarsoft-Winrar,  Games. For the kind of work that is done on a personal home computer by non-professionals they could have been replaced  by software thats either under $15 or free alternatives. Software pirates are neither artists nor writers.

    ** Discouraging OS piracy is key to preventing all other piracy. ** A post above mentioned that if the OS itself is pirated, there is less inhibition to not pirate other applications, I support that view.

    reiterate "Piracy: People need to know that its equivalent to stealing, and is a punishable offense."

    Think about it…

  14. The above posting made a big deal of USD100. People aren’t saving money by pirating software, they actually have a budget in mind, say Rs 40000 when they buy a computer. The choice is made to spend the entire budget on as powerful hardware instead of allocating any amount for software. It could have been possible to spend less on hardware and legalize the OS for the same budget.

    I do not agree. Go to

  15. Sagar Joshi says:

    If someone is using pireted software (e.g. Windows). Where should I complain about this? Local Police are not taking any action. Now What?

  16. John says:

    I think now its time to switch to free software, since there is a real good collection of free software out there.

  17. vashishth says:

    My friend, I belive thet it is near to impossible to stop the piracy or to even bring it down to within 50% of present piracy rate. The effective solution seems to be practical is to enforce the present laws at its highest possible level. Govt is required to prepare a teams to carry out surprise inspections in large, medium and then smaller level o companies. These are the people who use the pirated softwares for their commercial benefits and consequently earn huge amt of profit out of it. On the success of this strategy only we can think or expect the individual users to contribute to help fighting the issue of piracy.

    Even copyright law permits the use of such copies for educational and such personal purposes.

  18. sam says:

    It would not be possible for many indians to own a PC if they had to buy original software.

  19. Dave says:

    Big companies like Microsoft and others are not interested in small amount of retail profit. They are allowing piracy of their own softwares so people used to it. What you think..?? If Microsoft didn’t allow pirated OS, then people of India could afford to buy ?? They allowed it so people used to with MS OS instead of linux and other free OS. And MS is earning enough money from government and big IT service provider companies(which are using IT professionals trained on pirated MS OS in their academic years).

  20. Ashok , India says:

    Yes , you are right DAVE , if we are what we are

    then its pirated softwares and tools which made us software engineers today , now the same IT companies who are dead against piracy .. are hiring us …

      to be true even the government is allowing piracy , since it also knows that only because of that its people are getting educated specially in IT sector … but yes it is going against only those people who are benefitting for it HEAVILY and doing it openly , whether it  be softwares or media files , only then any government takes any action .  

       It allows people to use prirace quitely  and yes it knows people will take advantage of it … what is saying is don’t go to extreme …

     This is my observation . M not from any gov body 🙂 .

    Thanks ,


  21. Solo says:

    My view on this

    First of all, I agree that software privacy is equivalent to crime, since the

    developer is robbed from his profits. The developer is not paid for his work (hard work), so this is bad.

    Now regarding software privacy in India, many things come to my mind

    1. Ignorance and Lack of awareness

    Most people (newbies/computer-illerate parents buying computer for kids) are ignorant about this software privacy stuff. Since assembled pc’s cost less than branded ones most people here in India buy assembled ones. The computer sellers are clever enough to install pirated os, softwares and offer pc to cheapest prices. So many don’t know they are actually using pirated stuff.

    Even if they know ….

    2. Expensive prices of software (according to Indian standards)

    Imagine what would an average Indian do if softwares cost half the prices of their pc hardware. People buy assembled computers for prices as less as Rs. 20,000. They get cheaper if it is used one.

    But the prices of softwares are

    Value for the desktop user

    Operating System Price (Rs)

    Windows XP Home 6,172

    Windows XP Professional 10,773

    Red Hat 8 Personal Edition 2,200

    Red Hat 8 Professional Edition 7,995

    Source: (Windows) & (Red Hat)

    Now if the kid needs MS Office for his reports, Visual Studio for programming then it costs even more.

    So there is no option left (even if it is illegal).

    Also because

    3. No strict implementation of laws

    Now we don’t expect people (be it from any country) to stop using softwares if it is easily available and no one to sue you.


    So what are the solutions, some solutions may be

    1. Educate people about software piracy

    This has to done on large scale.

    Tell them what it is? why one shouldn’t do it? why it is bad? How it will affect them? Why it is illegal? Punishments etc? Ask people to buy original software. Spread awareness

    2. Cost reduction

    This is very important. Unless the price of the original software is within the buying range of average person he will tend to use pirated copies.

    Make most essential basic softwares at cheaper rates.

    I agree with point made above about no need of Professional softwares for Non-professional work/users. So let them have lite versions of useful softwares bundled up in CD when they

    buy their computers. I feel many people would ready to buy it. 2 or 3 cds containing (OS,antivirus,cd writing tools,etc) with minimum features with support.

    3. Punishment for those who sell pirated copies

    and those who don’t buy even with reduced prices.

    Even if it is very difficult but not imposible.

    Things like production activation, expiration, encryption etc won’t stop it because they end up being cracked, keys are shared. Can’t stop it.

  22. Naveen, India says:

    In my view there are no excuses for Piracy. I

    Most of the times we set a price in our mind before buying computer from the market. We try to buy the most advanced hardware we can get in our price range. But, no money for software!!!. Are you kidding me?

    If you can not own the thing, won’t do it. Do you buy an expensive car and then steal petrol? Better buy a low proce PC  and pay for software. Piracy is so prevalent coz it allowed to be happen. Big companies like MS, Adobe can afford the losses, and they are allowing piracy to defend their monopoly. MS knows if they will stop the piracy, people will switch to Linux or any other free/cheap OS.

    People ready to pay 1000rs for another 2gb RAM but not a penny on software. Authentic Windows vista pre loaded pc starts from 22,000rs. I have seen so many friends of mine spending 48K+ for getting highest spec computers but none of then bought an authorized OS.

    Most of the time, high specs PCs are bought not because of requirement but to show off how updated you are. Piracy is not because Indians are so poor they can’t afford, instead our gut feeling is why to spend money on s/w when we can get it for free.

    Even colleges are using pirated software. An average engineering college charges 70K-100k as tuition fee per year. Aren’t they financially capable to have authorized software?

    Piracy is a serious crime. It is same as shop lifting.

  23. prakash mehta says:

    after installing license software can i sit back and relex of not having any problems of viruses ??? license software vendor should provide protection against such attacks.

  24. Bhagwad says:

    Only 63%? – I would say it’s almost 100% excluding the elite corporates. And for me, it’s just the price. I WANT to buy legitimate Windows XP or Vista – I’m willing to allocate Rs. 2-3000 for buying a legit fully working copy of XP or Vista – I like to install/reinstall, fool around etc.

    But the prices are ridiculous. In a retail store, I saw the sticker price of Vista as Rs. 24,000 – am I made of money? That’s my monthly salary! It’s like charging an Amercian $5000! Will ANY American buy it? No way. Prof. XP costs some Rs. 14,000 – why the hell will I buy it? I can afford Rs. 2000 as a middle class person. Maybe 3000. Not more.

  25. Pratish Gondalia says:

    Hello all,

    I have been associated with Software Field for about 8 yrs. When, I was doing my Bachelor’s in India, I have used almost every popular pirated software out there. I had not real clue about meaning of Copyright Laws, what exactly they stand for. Problem is as Indians, we have never cared much about copyright or patents anyway (eg. music & film industry), although it is more evident in software field because of rapid growth and computers have become necessity. You cannot simply tell 63% or 90% of computer users that their way is wrong, I do not see that working.

    Yes as "vashinshth" has suggested in earlier post to use aggressive enforcement against infringement , what about all the government departments and ministers , who would most probably using Pirated software or some kind of combination like Genuine Windows , pirate other software, we do not know. Anyone who suggests such a thing I would personally consider him/her as Microsoft pet, rather then someone who is really interested in helping out our people.

    I would like to address question from "prakash mehta". I have bad news, no you cannot sit back and relax after installing legalized copies, because same people who are capable of breaking encryption on Windows to make pirated copies are also capable of creating viruses.

    Infact, it is really very sad situation to see people using pirated copies of inferior softwares when you get better or nearly equal softwares for free. I know this is blog for programming technology of big evil giant but still I will take position for Open source Softwares (OSS) (I know this is Blog for microsoft technology, but I hope it is open-minded Blog)

    Step 1 : It is not go after those who use pirated copy but who sell pirated copies, the  hardware vendor "at the corner of main-road".  Tell them to give free operating system like Ubuntu or Debian, which they can download from Internet. Make a CD, do same thing which they do with Windows XP, install it on every PC they sell. Ubuntu does support most of major Indian Languages.

    Equivalent Softwares

    GIMP for Photoshop

    OpenOffice for MS Office

    Step 2: Educate College Students about installing Windows & Ubuntu in parallel, work on Ubuntu, play on Windows.

    Ofcourse, some of the fault is also on hands of university and institutions like Aptech. They all want to teach MS Technologies to most future programmers VC#.Net, VC++, ASP.NET . I was very lucky in my Bachelor days to have a Linux-Oriented Head of Department, but ofcourse when he was retired University managed to get a rather pointless subject based on MS VC++.  

    Step 3: Small business, most of them need a OS to run there PC, Office to write a letter, & Spreadsheet. Tally could be installed through WINE (a Linux utility to use Windows Software). And naturally a Web-Browsers, ofcourse you cannot find anything better than Firefox, which is installed with Ubuntu.

    Step 4: Request Hardware Vendors to focus their business more around free software, download the regular updates just like they can download Ubuntu OS. Make a yearly or monthly contract with their customers for providing regular updates on Software  nominal fees like Rs 3000 / year  (or something like that, I have not worked on such details yet).

    But it is Win-Win situation people get regular updates, stable system, piracy could be brought under reasonable level. And good news is, you can give your Linux software CD to friends, colleagues , cousins to install on their PCs WITHOUT BREAKING ANY COPYRIGHT LAWS and request them to get service from Mr.XYZ good hardware guy who gives regular updates.

  26. Pratish Gondalia says:

    I forgot to say something…

    "May the source be with you…"

  27. raj says:

    If someone is using pireted software (e.g. Windows). Where should I complain about this? Local Police are not taking any action. Now What?

  28. mahakaal chowdhury says:

    ZEN BPO Services.

    Plot No. 17, 2nd Floor,

    Laxmi Garden



    Landmark : Near Akka Swami Koil

    Tel:    +91-0413-222 1261


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  29. Emily Dicson says:

    I have used almost all kinds of OS, Beside of Microsoft Provides many kinds

    of Operating systems , But Windows 7 is perfect OS for hd gaming with

    its all versions like; Starter, Home premium, Professional and Ultimate,

    Which has been used both for home as well as business purpose.I

    want to suggest for you to use only a full version of any OS to avoid

    lost of your backup files and precious time. Last time, I also need a


    for Windows 8.1 pro, Which installed at my cousin's PC, So I searched at Google to find a free license, but all in vain.

    Then one of my friend recommend me to buy it from: <a href="">ODosta Store</a>

    I bought it, Now I have Genuine, Which is working well.Cheers!

  30. rajiv says:

    A – 17/B, Jain Road, Dwarka Mod, Metro Pillar no – 786,

    New Delhi(110059)

    Mobile No   +91 – 9990390197, 9266982404

    this company is using pirated windows, office and other microsoft and adobe products

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