Microsoft sold over 20 million legal copies of Windows Vista globally in the first month of launch while in China, only 244 licenses of Windows Vista were sold officially in the same period. Most preferred to buy the $1 pirated Vista DVDs.
Contrary to what you may think - Microsoft isn't losing sleep over the rampant software piracy in China but it's the other way round.
The "something is better than nothing" strategy of Bill Gates is that when people in China are pirating so much software, let them pirate software developed by Microsoft -that increases the overall number of Microsoft software users and some of them may eventually convert into paying customers.
This surprising "pro-piracy" move in China has proved beneficial for Microsoft in the long run and Windows is used on an estimated 90% of China's 120 million PCs. Fortune Magazine writes:
Gates argued at the time that while it was terrible that people in China pirated so much software, if they were going to pirate anybody's software he'd certainly prefer it be Microsoft's.
Today Gates openly concedes that tolerating piracy turned out to be Microsoft's best long-term strategy. That's why Windows is used on an estimated 90% of China's 120 million PCs.
Indeed, in China's back alleys, Linux often costs more than Windows because it requires more disks. And Microsoft's own prices have dropped so low it now sells a $3 package of Windows and Office to students.
How Microsoft conquered China [via GN]
Related: Dell Naked PCs in China