Microsoft targets 'Blue Edition' software sales scams

Goes after online auctioneers selling pirated Windows XP and Office

Microsoft Corp. today said it has filed 63 lawsuits worldwide in its latest effort to crack down on sellers of counterfeit software, including online auctioneers that use a new scam dubbed "Blue Edition" that tempts buyers with ultra-low prices.

The lawsuits, filed in a dozen countries including Argentina, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, the U.S. and the U.K., target people who allegedly sold bogus copies of Windows XP, Microsoft Office and other software via online auction sites, said Matt Lundy, a senior attorney with Microsoft's anti-piracy team.

The broad counterattack against counterfeiters is a sign of the times, said Lundy. "Consumers should be aware that there are pirates throughout the world trying to sell you counterfeit software," he said. "[And] the counterfeiters are getting more bold in their schemes."

Lundy lumped the "Blue Edition" scam in the latter group.

"This is nothing more than counterfeiters burning Microsoft software on recordable DVDs and CDs, then claiming that they're part of Microsoft Blue Edition, which they say is an overrun of a Microsoft marketing program that allows them to sell at such deep discounts," said Lundy. "It's entirely fictional. There is no such thing as 'Blue Edition.'"

Microsoft has shut down hundreds of Blue Edition online auctions in the several months since it found evidence of the scam and fielded reports from consumers.

Most of the sales were of Windows XP knock-offs, Microsoft said, noting that although there are still valid copies available in some locales, buyers should be cautious. Previously, Microsoft acknowledged that pirates preferred Windows XP over its successor, Vista, essentially mimicking the legitimate marketplace.

In other instances, Microsoft found sophisticated operations that relied on auction sites hosted in New Zealand that sold high-quality copies and had the software shipped directly from the counterfeiter in China to buyers in the U.S., Europe and elsewhere.

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