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Genuine Microsoft users get free upgrades

NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 15 – Microsoft Africa has intensified its fight against piracy in the region by offering an Africa Pack DVD at no cost to consumers who purchase or currently run a genuine version of Windows 7.

This follows a joint effort by Microsoft, the Kenya Copyright Board and the Kenya Anti-Counterfeit Agency, that launched a consumer awareness program last month to curtail the trade of pirated software.

The Africa Pack contains popular Microsoft technologies and locally-relevant content, such as a Kiswahili version of Windows 7, which is meant to attract a wider range of users.

“The Africa Pack is designed to reward people who make the commitment to buying a PC with genuine Windows because there are things like Microsoft Security Essentials that simply won’t work if you’re running non-genuine Windows,” West, East and Central Africa Windows Business Group Manager Kevin Connolly said.

In addition, Microsoft partners will distribute the Africa Pack DVD with new PCs that are pre-installed with, or bundled with locally attached copies of genuine Windows.

According to the Business Software Alliance 2010 Global Software Piracy Study, 83 percent of software, worth $109 million, deployed on PCs in Eastern and Southern Africa excluding South Africa was pirated.

The same study revealed that for the first time PC shipments to emerging economies outpaced those to mature markets (174 million compared to 173 million), which underscores how emerging economies have become the driving force behind PC software piracy.

Connolly said piracy has had a big impact on business in the region, however even more so on consumers who unknowingly purchase pirated software.

“Some of the high quality counterfeit software we’ve seen in Kenya have built-in spyware and malware keystroke loggers. So every password, credit card number, email is being sent off to a server usually in Eastern Europe or East Asia,” he said.

Connolly was speaking during a Hewlett Packard (HP) customer awareness campaign promoting HP’s Beats Audio technology and Microsoft Africa Pack, on Thursday.

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Dubbed “Get Yo Beat on” the campaign will run through the Christmas season and aims to lure local music lovers with the audio technology that appealed more to the professional DJ market.

“The campaign is to engage consumers and let them know about the Beats by Dr Dre because people don’t hear the music as the artist intended. There is a lapse in what is produced in the studios and what is actually heard off the CD,” HP East Africa Personal Systems Group Marketing Head Muthoni Gitahi said.

Beats Audio is available on the HP Pavilion series which include the DM4, DV7 and DV6 as well as the Envy 17 and HP Touch Smart 610.

The Beats by Dr Dre enhanced laptops feature a redesigned headphone jack that reduces ground noise, a headphone amplifier as well as isolated audio circuitry and retail between Sh79,000 and Sh150,000.

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