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Microsoft apologises to wrongly targeted SMBs

Microsoft has moved to apologise to any small businesses that may have incorrectly received a fax in recent weeks regarding the legal status of their software.

Microsoft has moved to apologise to any small businesses that may have incorrectly received a fax in recent weeks regarding the legal status of their software. A business owner from Sharjah who had received such a fax recently spoke with ITP.net, complaining of what he saw as intimidation from the software giant.

The fax shown to ITP.net by the businessman included paragraphs on the state of software piracy in the Middle East, and requested that he "make an inventory of the computer programmes that are currently installed within [his] company and the actual licenses [he has]for them." It concludes by requesting: "once completed…please fax the inventory to us…ensure that this happens before the 10th of November 2001."

The fax was received by the businessman in question on November the 3rd, giving him one week to comply. The businessman went on to describe the fax as “arrogant and intimidating,” and to question what the Business Software Alliance would “have to say on Microsoft’s approach to customers in the context of the wording of the fax.”

The BSA would not comment on the fax, preferring to leave the explaining to Microsoft themselves.

“We sent these faxes out to businesses that were not on our Open License database,” explained Mohammed Jarrar, Microsoft GEM’s small to medium business manager in the UAE and Oman. “Granted some people in this group will be perfectly legal and, if they have been upset by these faxes, then we would like to apologise for any concerns that they may have as a result of receiving them.”

Many businesses are using Microsoft software by virtue of having purchased a PC with pre-installed Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) software. These businesses, although they will not show up on Microsoft’s Open License database, are using the software legally.

"We would be happy to go to visit the [complainant’s] office and speak to him personally to assist him out with any issues or complaints that he might have," commented Jarrar. "But as I say, the nature of how we are contacting these businesses means that some will be legal, and therefore not part of the problem. Again, we apologise if this happens."

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