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(Local News Reports) Fort Wayne officials say their computer service provider didn't do their job, so hundreds of city workers have been violating federal copyright law by not having proper software licenses. The city has a contract with Affiliated Computer Services to provide software and consoles to hundreds of Fort Wayne employees. Fort Wayne's Controller says ACS was supposed to license the city's software but didn't.

Microsoft is starting to crack down on unlicensed products installed on computers inside of large companies and institutions. And the government agencies are not exempt. In fact government agencies and schools can purchase their license at a discount rate better than some businesses. Fortunately this problem is going away and it's not because Microsoft is cracking down on it. Versions of Microsoft Windows XP and Office XP require registering them online to make them active. If you don't register them with 30 days they will no longer work.

If a company buys Microsoft Office 2000 from a computer store and installs it on more than one computer, then you are in violation of the license. Microsoft's consumer license states that you must install this on only one computer and not share it with anyone else.

Computer consulting companies that are contracted by businesses and agencies can purchase these licenses at bulk and can install them on as many computers as the license will allow.

Even schools can distribute software by Microsoft as long as the software is not duplicated or sold, or used for something non-academic related. This agreement is on a school-by-school basis.

The average home user is not exempt from this rule. If you have 2 or 3 computers and only one copy of Microsoft Office then you are also in violation. However when you purchase a computer and Windows or Office is already installed on it then you are within the license.

An easy alternative would be to look at something called openoffice.org. Open Office is a free (open sourced application suite). The idea is that it's free to download and use, and you can volunteer to contribute to the makers. It works just like Microsoft's Office except it isn't. It's hard to explain, but for the computer savvy person it's an easy switch and use.

To be perfectly honest, Microsoft's Office isn't all that great, and there are just as many compatible and capable programs out there that do a lot better far cheaper.


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