Why has demand for Windows’ pirate version increased dramatically in Russia and what problems could this create?

August 1, 2023  22:21

In the Russian retail segment, the share of laptops without pre-installed operating systems (OS) doubled to 20.7% of total sales in the first four months of 2023. This is a significant increase compared to the previous year, when the share of such devices was 9.1%. As Izvestiya informs, these data were obtained from electronics manufacturers and employees of one of the Russian distribution networks.

The growing interest in laptops with no OS installed in advance is due to the growing demand for pirated versions of the Windows operating system. According to experts, many buyers prefer to buy devices without pre-installed OS, because it reduces the price of the laptop. The price difference for the same laptop model with and without OS is 5,000-7,000 rubles (about $55-75). Such users later install illegal "keys" to activate the OS, which costs only 500-1000 rubles (about 5.5-10 dollars).

Yury Zlobin, president of an anti-piracy association called Russian Shield («Русский щит» in Russian) , said that installing non-genuine Windows OSes has become a cheaper, more convenient and, according to many users, more reliable alternative. When Microsoft left the Russian market, the situation became even more complicated. A legitimate version of Windows became unavailable and an officially registered copy was deemed illegal under Microsoft's new policy. This resulted in users losing support and updates, so most have no choice but to install a pirated version of the OS.

OS "activation keys" can be purchased from many web resources for $3-4. At the same time, users get versions of the OS that continue to receive updates, which makes them more attractive to users.

Experts note that such an increase in the prevalence of pirated versions of the OS can lead to serious consequences for users. It is not only about copyright infringement, but also about the high risk of infecting the computer with malicious software. Additionally, it can affect citizens' trust in manufacturers and undermine anti-piracy efforts in general.

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