Back in the old days, even Bill Gates would admit that piracy actually helped Microsoft, as it helped get people "addicted" to the software and built up the network effects that made Microsoft into the massively profitable powerhouse it is today. However, more recently, he's been among those campaigning for overly strict efforts to stamp out piracy, so it must have been rather uncomfortable for him earlier this week on his European Vista launch tour to listen to Romanian President Traian Basescu talk about what a wonderful boon for the Romanian economy pirated Microsoft software has been, noting that it helped create a Romanian IT industry. Apparently, the tech industry in the country is still growing rapidly. And, of course, it's very likely that this has helped Microsoft's bottom line tremendously. The growth of any IT industry in the country, aided by the unauthorized copies, almost definitely resulted in many more legitimate licenses being purchased than would have happened otherwise. Yet, these days, Microsoft won't admit that at all, and rather pretends the opposite is true; claiming that unauthorized copies "harm" the economy, by not having that money go into the local Microsoft bank account. Of course, confronted with all of this, Bill Gates stood mute and didn't say anything about the issue of how such unauthorized copying helped make Microsoft so successful.
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