By Luke Sossi, Enterprise Sales Manager for the Mid-Atlantic District, Microsoft Corp.
These past few weeks have been filled with good news for small businesses in Pittsburgh. Recently, On Numbers ranked Pittsburgh as having the strongest small business sector of 21 major Eastern metros as part of the publication’s annual ratings of small-business climates across the country. It’s exciting to see Pittsburgh’s ranking in this survey skyrocket over the years, from 17th in 2010 to sixth last year to taking top honors this year.
Also, the most recent PNC Economic Outlook finds that, among several positive trends, Pennsylvania business owners showed a significant improvement in business expectations and optimism compared to Fall 2011 for hiring, profits and sales.
Small business owners in Pittsburgh are on a roll. With such great momentum moving our local small business economy forward, we at Microsoft are focused not only on providing technology solutions that help businesses grow, but also on protecting business owners from technology dangers that can hold them back.
These dangers can be especially insidious as they often come in small packages, like software purchased for a company.
How can something that takes up so little space cause so much harm? Consider how powerful your company’s productivity software is and the efficiency and accuracy benefits it delivers. If counterfeit, something as small as the discs housing these resources can seriously compromise your company’s security, reputation and legal standing.
Here in Pittsburgh, I work closely with local businesses and can confidently say that, when equipped with the facts about illegal software’s dangers, they make more informed decisions about software purchases. However, these conversations have also revealed that some do not have the basic information around why and how counterfeit software impacts business viability. If you fall into that category, consider this a primer on counterfeit software’s dangers:
- Increased vulnerability, decreased productivity: Purchasing software from a non-reputable website or software vendor increases the chances of downloading malware or viruses, which makes PCs or laptops slower and less reliable. It also exposes your – and your customers’ – data to fraud. By purchasing softward from reputable Microsoft partners, you’ll decrease your chances of downloading malware and viruses or losing your critical business data, problems that are symptomatic of using counterfeit software.
- Nowhere to turn: If your business is in the habit of moving fast to keep pace with competitors and customers, the last thing you want is to be locked out of technical support in a time of need. Counterfeit software doesn’t give you access to protection such as a complimentary subscription to Microsoft Security Essentials, the award-winning antivirus solution from Microsoft.
- Legal repercussions: An individual or a company can be found legally responsible for pirating software even if business owners are unaware of copyright infringement. Businesses in possession of counterfeit or non-genuine software face hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines, years in jail, or both.
This is why your company’s computer software – and where you buy it – matters. By installing only legal Microsoft software, or purchasing a device on which it’s pre-installed, you get the experience you expect and deserve for your investment. For Microsoft software, always look for a Certificate of Authenticity (COA), which helps identify a genuine Microsoft product. Product keys can also be a sign of genuine software as no product key is ever sold separately for Microsoft. Also be wary of online auctions, peer-to-peer networks, and websites that appear legitimate but bear no sign of being verified Microsoft vendors and sell software at a price far below market value.
Some business owners are motivated into action by understanding the risks, but just as many are inspired by knowing how legal software creates an advantage for their companies. Fortunately, I have plenty of that information to share:
- Someone who has your back: With legally-obtained, -produced and -licensed software, businesses have access to technical support; ongoing improvements and updates; and unparalleled protection like that from Microsoft Security Essentials. Legal software also includes full documentation to help you get the most from your computing experience.
- An economic boost: Your support of local, legitimate technology businesses fuels local jobs and tax revenue, and helps level the competitive playing field. The protection of marketplace intellectual property and marketplace opportunities are invaluable to businesses of all sizes, including yours.
- Peace of mind: With authentic, genuine software, you’re positioning your business to win, and ensuring your customers a consistent, secure experience. No amount of savings on software from a suspicious source compares to the confidence your business will feel knowing it’s simply doing the right thing.
Don’t jeopardize the success of your company in this thriving marketplace because of misinformed software purchasing decisions. Learn more about how to make wise technology decisions for your company, employees and customers, by visiting www.microsoft.com/piracy/. And may your business ride this wave of good news into an even more successful future!