Microsoft takes hard line on Delhi Govt's 'pirated' Offices

| | New Delhi
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Microsoft takes hard line on Delhi Govt's 'pirated' Offices

Tuesday, 07 October 2014 | Rajesh Kumar | New Delhi

Microsoft takes hard line on Delhi Govt's 'pirated' Offices

In a major embarrassment to the Delhi Government, IT giant Microsoft has pointed out that a majority of Government departments are using pirated versions of its Microsoft Office, a bundle of desktop applications.

Stung by this accusation, the Delhi Government has issued directions to all the departments to stop using the pirated version and purchase genuine software. Ironically, the India-based Microsoft executive who brought the matter to the notice of the Delhi Government was himself IT Secretary in the Sheila Dikshit Government and had in 2005 issued orders to the departments to download Microsoft Office saying “it is free.” He opted for the voluntary retirement scheme later on to join Microsoft.

Use of pirated software poses grave risk to official data of the Delhi Government, as it can be hacked or leaked very easily and it is a penal offence under the Information Technology Act and the Indian Penal Code. A circular was issued on November 30, 2005 by then Secretary (IT) Prakash Kumar asking Delhi Government departments to use OpenOffice software which he stated was available free of cost to use licence and hence, multiple copies of the same could be made and used in different offices without incurring any extra cost.

“OpenOffice comes with application software writer for word processing, Calc for spreadsheet application, Impress for making presentation and Base for database management,” the circular had said. According to sources, the 2005 circular was issued due to “some differences” between the IT Department of Delhi Government and Microsoft.

According to officials, most of the departments in Delhi Government are not complying with Information Technology rules and using paid applications and software without taking proper licence, which is considered illegal. It is learnt that 50 to 60 per cent of the systems in Delhi Government offices are using paid applications and software without taking proper licences.

Taking note of Microsoft’s “verbal” objection, Principal IT Secretary, RK Verma has put a strict ban on the usage of such applications without obtaining a valid licence.

He has cautioned against the use of pirated software as it will amount to violation of the Copyright Act which leads to action under the Information Technology Act and Indian Penal Code.

A senior IT official said that employees have been requested to strictly avoid the use of pirated software in offices. “Use of pirated/unauthorized software should be strictly avoided. All concerned are requested to avoid a situation where use of unauthorized software in violation of the Copyright Act leads to an adverse action under IT Act/Indian Penal Code,” a circular issued by the IT Department said.

Some senior officials admitted that they were privy to the development but refused to comment, while others expressed complete ignorance about the technology being used in their offices.

“The paid office suites include Microsoft Office 2013 (offline), Office 365 (online), Corel WordPerfect Office X7, Kingsoft Office Suite, SoftMaker Office Professional 2012, Ability Office Professional V6, Mac-based Office Suites. It is observed that many departments are using paid office suites like Microsoft Office due to enhanced security support, frequent updates, usability, interface, additional features and more solutions,” the circular said.

“We have provided them with a list of paid as well as non-paid applications which can be used as per convenience. They are free to choose from it, subject to the instructions issued. The paid applications cannot be used without a licence otherwise it will be considered an offence under Indian Penal Code,” the official said.

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