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MS cracks down on staff reselling software

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A brief storyette on AP's Nando Times (registration required*) suggests that Microsoft may have found something nasty when it started checking employee purchases of software.

At the end of last year the company claimed one employee had sneakily laundered a cool $9 million worth of software via the internal purchasing programme; one could speculate that in the course of its investigations, Microsoft might have found that perhaps the internal checks and balances weren't all they might be.

We shouldn't expect any more alleged Seattle laundry millionaires, and indeed if Microsoft thought it had found any it would have done something rather more drastic than, as AP tells us, simply disciplining them.

But actually, what that says is not that Microsoft has been dealing with major internal fraud, but that it's been cracking down on minor stuff. As is so frequently the case, The Reg is guessing here, but we figure if Microsoft found employees selling much more than just a little bit of software into the channel it would sack them.

So what do you get disciplined for? We're curious, because the more rigorous the crackdown, the greater the change in corporate culture. Companies who stop employees doing free photocopying and 'borrowing' staplers, pens and paperclips (we are aware there are specific reasons why you might not want a Microsoft paperclip) tend to be companies people stop wanting to work for. So is Microsoft becoming one of these? ®

* We'd been resisting registering for the Nando Times since they put the barrier up, but we've given in, because there's frequently pretty good stuff in there. And it was worth it just for the headlines currently flagged as Weird News, which are of the class where one hesitates to actually read the story, in case it disappoints. "Couple sues McDonald's over tough bagel"; "Lard eagle watches over college cafeteria"; "Satellite used to pace lead foots" - you just don't want to go any further, do you? But the intro to the lard eagle one is even better:

"DAWSON CREEK, British Columbia (February 4, 2003 11:25 a.m. EST) - With wings stretched wide, an eagle made of lard watched over the food line in the Northern Lights College cafeteria."

This is the sort of stuff the internet should really be about.

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