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Pictured here is David Gregory, anti-piracy manager at Microsoft UK. He is celebrating a £20 million haul of illegal software in Reading. Funny thing is, the Oracle HQ is bang next to the MS building. So what disks is the steamroller trashing? What is that furry thing between his legs?

Here is the full story A Microsoft public relations stunt nearly backfired today, when it was discovered a steamroller due to crush pirate software was too heavy and was positioned directly over the staff car park.

The heavy-duty vehicle was scheduled to drive over a mountain of recovered pirate Microsoft Office 97 CDs in front of the company’s Reading offices to publicise the war being waged by the Great Stan of Software against counterfeiters.

At the last minute, it was discovered the site was above the company’s underground car park, and was not strong enough to hold the weight of the vehicle. Microsoft staff, spin doctors and members of the press were rushed around the back of the building as the action was relocated to avoid disaster.

After this initial hiccup the event ran smoothly and Microsoft UK MD Neil Holloway even took a turn at driving the steamroller over the dodgy discs. David Gregory, Microsoft anti-piracy manager, said the CDs were part of the largest haul ever to be seized in the UK. They would normally be incinerated, but today’s event was a symbolic gesture, he said, designed to show the rising nature of this crime.

Holloway said: "Software piracy costs the UK IT industry nearly half a billion pounds a year, and now even hardcore criminals are starting to turn to software theft." Many applauded today’s action, but pointed out that Microsoft was not the biggest victim.

Clive Bishop, general secretary of the National Association of Specialist Computer Retailers, said anything that created public awareness was commendable: "Resellers and the channel suffer the most because of software fraud," he said. Ed Ewing, Computer 2000 marketing director, added: "The whole of the reseller channel is the victim along with Microsoft." Today’s crushed CDs were part of a £21 million seizure following two raids in the South East. Microsoft, CID and Berkshire Trading Standards recovered the goods from premises in Bracknell and Reading earlier this month. ®

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