Will The People of China Pay For Microsoft Software?

Steve Ballmer was in a meeting with the president of China, and has made the news for claiming that 90% of Microsoft software in China is being used by people who didn’t pay Microsoft for a license.

I have no idea how accurate their estimate is or exactly how they got it, but that’s not something I’m worried about here.

Most of the articles that I’ve seen about it are more focused on what could be done to fix this. They particularly focus on issues like whether China’s government itself will take more action to cut down on the use of unlicensed software.

There’s another question here, though. Statistics from just a couple of months ago still show that 45.2% of Internet users in China are using IE6. Considering that you can’t run IE6 on the latest Microsoft operating systems, they’re not just using software that they haven’t paid Microsoft for, they’re using really old software that they haven’t paid Microsoft for.

If the company gets the crackdown that they want, what’s going to happen to their market share? We’re talking about a large population of people who are used to not having to pay for their operating system and aren’t already accustomed to using the most modern versions of Windows. A crackdown would put them in the position of having to pay money they’re not used to paying for software that’s gone through some fairly major interface changes compared to what they’re used to using.

Cracking down will probably get some people to pay, but others may very well decide to have a look at the alternatives that are still free. Depending on how the people of China feel about Microsoft demanding that they pay up, this could have serious implications for the company’s market share.

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5 Responses to Will The People of China Pay For Microsoft Software?

  1. Mark Adams says:

    This really does look like a can of worms. If there are all those dated copies of XP and who-knows-what running in China, what sort of equipment are those OS’s running on? I wonder if the most common systems in China will actually run more recent versions of Windows? If not, will there actually be upgrades?

    I work at a call center that is full of XP-based workstations still running IE6 (stop judging me). The desktops do just what they are required to do and that’s all management and IT really care about. Love it or hate it, XP seemed to cross the threshold into a balance of hardware and software that provides a stable enough and robust enough platform to conduct business as we know it today. If China is sitting on countless copies of XP that do what they need them to do, why would they bother “upgrading” to paid copies? On the other hand, what value is MS offering them to do so?

    And as this post points out, the balloon in market share would be significant. What is the downside for MS in all that? Is Windows really so well supported in the Chinese language version that there will be no additional support requirements for MS?

    Just wondering.


  2. Ray says:

    Nah, people will still pirate Windows, as people move on to newer OSes.

  3. ChrisTX says:

    China is a massively growing market, and you should know that in China so far, most people don’t have a computer.

    The internet traffic is generated from caf├ęs and these mostly run XP. It’s absolutely incomparable to what you know here.

    Also, China *is* a growing market. With a GDP increase of constant 10%, you can be sure that the situation in China will change in unpredictable ways.

  4. What Will We Use Editor says:

    @ChrisTX Do you have actual traffic data operating system and browser from China? We would be interested in seeing it. Systems that ship Linux are pretty popular in that market.

  5. ChrisTX says:

    Take a look at StatCounter. http://gs.statcounter.com/#os-CN-monthly-201002-201102
    ‘Pretty popular’ looks different to me.

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