With an estimated 50,000 ex-corporate and government PCs flooding into the local market in the last year, resellers involved in the refurbished PC business can expect plenty of heat from Microsoft.
And the message from the software giant is clear - don't sell or buy any PCs without original documentation and media. How many of those 50,000 systems that still have their original documentation is open to speculation.
Microsoft is currently pursuing some notable computer traders including the directors of Business Boost, Starworks and Wally's Computer World through the courts for what Microsoft's Law and Corporate Affairs spokesperson Alex Mercer describes as "software infringements".
And its latest warning has come in the aftermath of a recent Anton Piller (civil search and seizure) order executed on the North Melbourne warehouse of Goodview Electronics (trading as Golden Square Computer Wholesales). According to Mercer, Microsoft's counsel has reported to the Federal Court that "a number of products believed to be counterfeit, including Microsoft mice and Windows 98 as well as other documents" were seized in the operation.
While Microsoft has further stepped up its efforts to counter the alarming incidents of software piracy, the refurbished PC market has attracted particular attention because of the potential for trading PCs with software already loaded on the hard drive.
Mercer said that they are stepping up their attention in this (refurbished PC) area because it seems to be attracting the most vulnerable consumers. "Our focus is on the education of the market - dealers and consumers - to understand the implications of acquiring unlicensed software," she said. Meanwhile, Mercer asserted that software is only licensed if the user has original authentic media and documentation.