updated 09:15 am EST, Wed January 4, 2012
Microsoft accuses UK retailer Comet of mass piracy
Microsoft on Wednesday sued British retailer Comet for allegedly committing mass piracy. It claimed the store made and sold 94,000 "counterfeit" copies of Windows XP and Vista as recovery discs. The sales were "unfair to customers," Microsoft's associate general counsel David Finn claimed, implying that customers didn't concern themselves with or know that the discs weren't from Microsoft.
"We expect better from retailers of Microsoft products — and our customers deserve better, too," he argued.
Comet's parent company Kesa Electricals denied the accusations and said it would "defend its position vigorously." It threw the claims back at Microsoft and noted that the developer's own policies, as well those of its PC partners, had made the Windows experience worse. Because Microsoft and PC builders had stopped supplying Windows discs with PCs in 2007 but didn't have any other way of restoring a PC if the recovery partition was lost, buyers were stranded and had to either send the PC in to the designer for a restoration or buy a new copy of Windows. The ad hoc recovery discs were a solution to something Microsoft had taken away, Kesa said.
Microsoft's approach comes in sharp contrast to Apple's. The Mac designer provided full OS install discs well after most Windows PC rivals stopped and only began curbing the practice itself with the release of Mac OS X Lion. From the July 2011 MacBook Air onwards, every new Mac without a disc still has a Lion Recovery option that lets owners re-download and install the OS on any working drive. Microsoft has downloadable Windows 7 installs but still has no way of recovering with a download.