Why most people in Thailand won't pay for Windows

From personal experience

Thailand has a long history of rampant software piracy, especially when it comes to expensive piece of software such as Windows. Eight out of ten people here use a pirated copy of Windows. (The other two who have a legitimate copy got it preinstalled on their machine when they brought it). Nobody, and I mean nobody, ever buys a stand-alone, boxed, legitimate copy of Windows (except some professors and a couple of millionaires). Illegal? Who cares? Nobody cares.

The question is, why?

The answer is simple: Windows is simply too expensive and the pirated version is working well enough for most people.

As I have said, most people in Thailand who have computers typically use a pirated copy of Microsoft Windows. That's the fact around here. Even big retail outlets typically install a pirated copy of Windows on some of the blank machines that they are selling. Hell, they even openly admit about the fact. (One salesperson I met told me outright that some of the cheaper boxes at his store were running a pirated version of Windows XP).

As a result, most people never even knew, or cared, how much a copy of Windows cost. (Well, we just sort of knew that it was really expensive, but not exactly how much). I must admit that I used to be one of those people. I mean, why should one care how much a legitimate copy of Windows cost if you can get a pirated one for around 150 baht (about 3.75 dollar) that have roughly the same functionalities as the legitimate one?

Out of curiosity, I begin looking around for information. As of August 2007 a copy of Windows XP Pro edition (OEM license) would cost you around 5,100 to 5,300 baht (127.5 to 132.5 dollar depending on vendor). A copy of Windows Vista Business edition (OEM license) cost about 5,400 to 6,000 baht (135 to 150 dollar). As for a copy of Windows Vista Ultimate edition (OEM license), the price is set at around 7,300 baht (182.5 dollar) or more. (A typical salary for a newly undergraduate around here is about 10,000 to 15,000 baht (250 to 375 dollar)).

Now that is a lot more than a 150 baht (and quite expensive for most newly undergraduate), don't you agree? And as if to add insult to injury, each license can only be use on one PC. So if you have, say, two computers then you need to buy two copies of Windows. Not only that, but according to OEM license, if somehow your computer suddenly fails and you replace it with a new one, then you have to buy a new copy of Windows to use on the new machine, no matter how long (or short) you just brought your previous copy. (Sure, you can go with Full Package license and have the privilege to reinstall your copy of Windows on the new machine, but then again the price would be even higher).

Now that is just silly.

And for all that troubles, what do you get? A warm, fuzzy feeling that you have done the right thing (although that is a highly subjective matter), and a working Windows Update service.

In short, not much. Especially considered the fact that a 150 baht pirated copy can do everything a full fledge version can, except using Windows Update service (which most people never use or care about anyway).

With a deal like that, it is not surprising that nobody is buying Windows. For most people, the benefits is simply not enough to justify the cost. If Microsoft is really, really serious about reducing or eliminating software piracy around here, the first thing that it can do is to lower the price of Windows.

Yeah, like that's gonna happen.

(And if you really can't or don't want to pay for Windows, then there are other alternatives such as Linux or *BSD. So there is no need to use a pirated version of Windows and risk getting infected by virus, malware or spyware).