The piracy of Microsoft software such as Windows and Office is more prevalent in South Africa than in developed countries, but Microsoft has a solution to this problem.
The company has previously combatted piracy in markets such as India, South-East Asia, and China through increasing the affordability of its partner offerings and educating customers on the value of genuine software.
Speaking in an interview with MyBroadband, Microsoft EMEA vice president of consumer and device sales Bradley Hopkinson said that Microsoft has various measures in place to fight piracy in South Africa.
“We have looked at Africa as a continent,” Hopkinson said. “Piracy rates in South Africa are actually significantly better than in other parts of Africa.”
“We have looked at the entire continent and have taken a very similar approach to other emerging markets where we’ve had similar challenges.”
Hopkinson said Microsoft has developed a programme which aims to improve the uptake of genuine Windows software by working with major PC partners across the continent.
“We have come up with a programme called the Africa Coverage Programme, which is an affordability programme with our multinational partners.”
“Effectively, it is a programme that we believe will address affordability, and at the same time we need to drive awareness for the value of genuine software, which we will do as part of that programme.”
He added that consumers should have the best experience on genuine versions of Windows, and Microsoft aims to greatly reduce piracy across the continent to accomplish this goal.
“We have high aspirations to bring piracy almost to zero across Africa. We see a world across Africa where we can get genuine Windows in excess of 80% and even higher, and that is also based on the success we’ve seen through similar programmes in other emerging markets.”
“We want consumers to have the best experience on Windows, and that is obviously a genuine experience. We have China, India, and South-East Asia as the reference cases where we have seen the success of the programme.”
South Africans have also been avid consumers of pirated media such as video content in the past, although this is changing following the launch of Netflix and other major streaming services in South Africa.
MyBroadband recently spoke to numerous local ISPs, all of whom said that Netflix and other streaming services had seen massive growth in terms of data traffic volumes.
This was matched by a relative decline in torrent traffic as South Africans no longer need to pirate their favourite shows and series.
The data traffic trends observed by local ISPs point to a change in behaviour among South Africans, with local Internet users preferring to pay a monthly fee for access to shows via a streaming service than to illegally download and store content on their hard drives.
This shows that South Africans are willing to pay for genuine content and software, provided the pricing and accessibility provided is reasonable.
As Microsoft’s plan to reduce piracy across the continent hinges on the advantages of a genuine Windows experience and improved affordability, it could be just as effective as the launch of local media platforms, provided it is implemented effectively.