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Computer dealers in Gujarat, India held a one-day strike to protest ongoing anti-piracy raids from Microsoft.

India news portals itVARnews and CIOL report about 350 dealers joined in a statewide bandh (that's a general strike) initiated by Surat-based South Gujarat Information Technologists Association (SITA).

This month, six PC dealers in Gujarat received notices from Microsoft for selling pirated copies of Windows. Microsoft demanding a payment of 200,000 Rupee ($4,955) and a fine of 1,600,000 Rupee ($39,638) if the vendor continued to sell pirated copies of the OS.

Microsoft conducted the raids by sending a dummy customer into the stores asking for a copy of Windows be installed on their PC.

The resellers are demanding an end to Microsoft's OS offensive.

"We are not against piracy but against the way Microsoft is working to stop it," SITA president Bharat Randheri told itVARnews. "Moreover, if they want to do business in India then they should change their prices and policies according to the Indian market. We are the one who are promoting their products in the market and if they will behave in such a rash manner with us then we will stop business with them.”

One retailer told CIOL that they are just doing a service to the customer by installing illegitimate copies of the OS.

"Since we are are not charging anything extra for installing the software, it means that we are actually not trading in pirated software. For us this is just a sewa (selfless act) that we are offering to our customers. Besides, the pricing of their operating systems is way too high for the Indian markets."

The resellers have also planned boycotts against Microsoft. Those participating in the strike agreed to stop all purchases of Microsoft products for this quarter.

Brian Campbell of Microsoft India sees the raids as a firm, but loving hand; guiding the vendors to the world of IP Shangri-La.

"Microsoft, though its own efforts in partnership with other industry groups, is committed to increasing the understanding and appreciate for intellectual property rights and original software," he told CIOL. "Further, Microsoft is committed to working with the channel to help them understand the benefits of original software. We expect our channel partners to support us in further spreading the message of the value of original software among the end-consumers, and we will continue to support all initiatives to do so." ®

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