Microsoft: “Genuine! It’s Not The Same!” Anti-Piracy Campaign

Windows Vista pirated version

One of the biggest issues Western firms have with China is the country’s stance on intellectual property rights. Despite the Chinese Government stepping up its efforts to battle the issue in recent years, the problems still exist.

Whether it be the stalls in Beijing’s Silk Market selling their staggering range of counterfeit designer goods, Chinese media broadcasters using copyright footage without permission, or the ever impressive copycat products (known in China as ‘山寨’ – Shānzhài) such as the recent ‘iPed’ — the fake iPad, there is no doubt about it intellectual property infringements are rife in the PRC.

Beijing Silk Market stall

Microsoft (微软 – Wēi ruǎn) has been fighting piracy of its products in the Mainland for a long time. Over the years, it has used range of approaches to tackle the issue.

For instance in 2008, Microsoft rolled out a program called “Windows Genuine Advantage” which caused “black screens of death” to appear every hour on unregistered versions of the Windows operating system. The only way to resolve the problem would have been to buy a genuine copy of Windows.

Bill Gates in China 1995

Yet, just a year earlier, Bill Gates stated that he liked the Chinese pirating his software over its competitors, because he believed that eventually Chinese consumers would pay for the real thing.

Unfortunately, this ‘something for nothing’ strategy did not quite work out and since 2007 Microsoft has won numerous court cases against Chinese firms around the issue.

Microsoft Chinese piracy

Despite the software giant winning courtroom battles against Chinese companies, many people in the Middle Kingdom are still using pirated versions of Windows.

When Windows Vista launched over 20million copies were bought legally worldwide within a month, but astonishingly in China only 244 legal versions were purchased in that first two weeks — with many Chinese instead opting for the cheaper pirated version.

In fairness, the last couple of years have seen a decline of piracy rates in China, but it is still an area that Microsoft China takes very seriously.

To that end, and coinciding with Microsoft’s first year anniversary of the Windows 7 launch in China, the firm’s latest approach comes in the form of a large-scale advertising campaign titled. “真!就不一样” (Zhēn! Jiù bù yīyàng) which translates into English as “Genuine! It’s Not The Same“.

Microsoft China -- Genuine, It's Not the Same

The campaign is launching in six major cities: Beijing, Nanjing, Chengdu, Xi’an, Wuhan and Hangzhou. Various tactics will be used to encourage Chinese consumers to purchase the genuine version of Windows 7 from; TV commercials, price discounts, cooperation with computer makers and even face-to-face sessions with the consumers themselves.

The advertising element of the campaign above aims to show Chinese citizens the risks and dangers that can occur from using pirated software.

There will be more TV ads and outdoor advertising to follow later this month, but for now this is just a taster of Microsoft’s biggest investment to date to win the battle against piracy in the PRC.

Microsoft China - Windows 7 Genuine Not the Same

Chinese ‘Shanzai’ Copycats

Before we finish, I thought it might be worth sharing some of the great copycat (‘山寨’ – Shānzhài) products that have come out of China over the last few years:

Google vs. Goojje

Google Logo

note: Google is currently blocked in China and can only be accessed with the use of a China VPN

Mercedes-Benz ‘C-Class’ vs. Geely ‘Merrie 300’

Mercedes C-Class vs Geely Merrie 300



Apple iPad vs. The iPed

The iPad
The iPed

Sony AA Batteries vs. Sqny AA Batteries

Sony AA batteries
Sqny Batteries

Nintendo Wii vs. Chintendo Vii

Nintendo Wii
Chintendo Vii

If these weren’t enough, the great Chinese imitators have even had a go at creating the next iPhone 5!

Have you got any copycat products you would like to share? Feel free to share them below.

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  • Ah, the Chintendo Vii. It’s my favorite gaming console of the current generation (even if its graphics can’t stand up to those of the the Chicrosoft CheXbox or the Chaystion 3.1)

    • To add, though, the problem Microsoft faces is that as long as the pirates haven’t also added spyware, it really IS the same. The same exact code will make the same exact machine do the same exact thing, 正版 or 盗版 doesn’t matter. Unless M$ is going to implement some kind of required internet registration that makes running 盗版 windows impossible on an internet-connected PC. But I doubt they’re ready to do that yet.

      And they’re probably right…as Chinese people start to be able to afford it, 正版 stuff is becoming a status symbol, so why not with PC OSes too? M$ biggest problem is that 正版 windows 7 isn’t as impressive as a shiny new Mac.

      • 2B-real

        It really isn’t the same code. If you were to actually run fake windows on your computer there are allot errors visible to the untrained eye. Allot of the time its not even windows but a very good rendention of windows. There are some dealers that do sell legitimate window with a crack to trick registration because they wanna keep selling copies of the original disk like the way dell would do it but without a license.

        On the fake windows you can’t run non chinese software on them. Another example is to bring your copy of real software from where ever you are from and run it on a fake window machine. The installation process can’t be executed because in the background of the fake OS is not DOS hosted. These type of OSs are strictly for simply surfing and getting you on the internet to fart around with you QQ and bullshit non-important task.

        • laomei

          not really the case. i run a pirate copy of win 7. it’s the same exact code. it’s an OEM copy with a legitimate OEM code generated the same exact way that the OEM would have generated one. my winxp copy was pirate before it, as was my copy of win2000 and win 98 before that. it’s often easier and faster to grab a pirate copy than a legit one.

          as far as the coding behind it goes however… it’s the exact same, no one is going to reverse engineer a copy of windows to sell it for 5 kuai on the street lol

          • Unless someone is selling copies of older versions of Windows. From what I’ve heard (remember, I don’t use Windows anymore) even some software designed for use with Windows Vista won’t work with Windows 7. So what if they are selling:

            Windows 95
            Windows 98
            Windows ME

            The above three are a totally separate codebase, with nothing in common with Windows 7, except the basic interface, and part of the Application Programming Interface. They are incapable of running most programs written for the other Windows family below.

            Windows NT 4.0
            Windows 2000
            Windows XP

            These three are the direct ancestors of Windows Vista and Windows 7, however they share very little of the source code, and the Application Programming Interface is an older version. They aren’t capable of running most programs written for Windows Vista or Windows 7.

            So yes, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if people are having problems with programs that won’t work. There are so many different versions of Windows, and they are not compatible with each other.

            This isn’t a dig at Microsoft, this is common with all operating systems. Software written for newer versions, won’t run on the older versions, which means you have to watch what you buy (or keep upgrading to the current version, assuming your computer is capable of running it, which it probably won’t be).


          • 2B-real

            I wasnt talking about pirated copies. I talking about wanna be (shanzhai) windows. Home made Windows what ever. What they do is use the same platform but its not the same operating system. Kind of like an emulator. A good example is to be able to run XBOX game in playstation that looks and smells like an XBOX.
            A pirated copy just uses the same exact copy and the crackers took out the authentic seal code to keep from getting cut when microsoft checks if more than 1 user is using the same copy else where. Its the bets way to go but don’t let some one outside of your house hold come in and start clicking yes to all the pop-ups from Microsoft. You are no longer eligible for updates for anything and you have to constantly buy virus protect software to counter act any security flaws that you might not be eligible for from Microsoft. What these guys still havent been able to figure out is how to counteract the self destructive coding within. Eventually you are going to have to get another hard drive or machine. I hate windows and everything it represents but I hate fake and pirated anything. Its unstable and inconvenient

          • 2B-real

            Oh and the reverse ingineered versions are 10 kuai. They are only good for surfing the internet, and playing small sized games or chinese games that resemble popular games from the west. But try and use powertools that need complex computation and errors just pop up everywhere. If you are a software engineer this can be fixed because its an open source code windows (sort of)

          • FYI, there’s a new Chinese phone on the market. Apparently there were lineups to buy it. Wonder if it will come to North America?

        • I’d love to do an evaluation on that ‘fake windows’ and see what it actually is. If you have a copy, I can tell you what information I need, and how to get it.

          Because I’m curious. I can’t see how it would be worth the effort to actually make a fake Windows. There wouldn’t be enough of a payoff to make it financially viable.

          So, do you have a copy?

          • Just another crazy guy

            There is no such thing as a “fake windows”, I’ve seen these things, its just a windows 95 or Windows 98 which has all the skins applied to them to make them look like a Windows XP. Windows XP is very famous in China, as it is pretty lightweight compared to Vista and Windows 7.
            I don’t know why everyone hates Windows so much (sorry I had to reply it for your post cuz this paragraph is all general). I’ve used a Windows PC, and a Mac and linux. And all are good systems. Its always the idiot between the chair and the PC thats the problem. Apple products are good, but they are really over rated, Yes I agree they look really good, but its not that piece of cake to use them. I know cuz I have spent a fair amount of time “educating” people on how to use their device, or troubleshooting. Also this sudden craze of Apple products makes prices higher for 水货 iphones.
            The real reason software is pirated is because genuine is not readily available. You make things available and people will come. The only problem I have with windows is its lack of Language support. multi language support is available only in Windows 7 ultimate (and maybe Vista too), but now there is massive globalisation and its about time Microsoft realizes it. 100% of PCs bought by foreigners in China have pirated windows in it, cuz there is no english language (or any other language for that matter) windows easily available here.
            And why would anyone pay for a copy of Windows when they already paid for a license when they bought their computer.
            I bought a copy of Windows 7 Ultimate off of Taobao, I’m a student and I can’t afford the boxed set and I don’t even need the box, so I chose to buy the OEM copy. Cost me 100$, and I’m happy with it. Its a genuine license. :D

          • 2B-real

            I dont have a copy but it is relatively cheap. 10- 20 RMB. What they do is bundle them with a bunch of games that can run on it. Not even a DVD and you dont even have to partition your hard drive.

            @Just another crazy guy
            You obviously don’t know what you are talking about. Windows and its looks has nothing to do with its stability. although you made a great comparison between each windows. Basically you are right but essentially you are dead wrong. Window 7 went in a semi-different direction in developing its and designing its OS. Its a far more complex OS than vista and older will ever be. But still has some kinks as far quality is concerned. Microsoft is for sure on the right path at the right time.

            You don’t see anyone bootlegging Mac OS unless they are seriously out of date and if so you can get it for free with any copy verification process. I have never had to pay for a legit copy of any Mac OS. If anything I hate updating OS until every developer of has verified that their product is compatible. A legit windows copy is the best way to go with out adding loading it up with a bunch of add on 3rd party software that clutters up your machine and slows it down. Windows was eesentially designed for its users to go out and buy native software that has been tried and true verified stable. You get the wrong “cracked” windows or even “fake” windows A.k.A. “Vindows”. You will lose that seamless perfect operation Window was intended for. There are too many variables when it comes to mom and pop 3rd party software.

            To tell you the truth I hate using windows but if I had to chose between legit and other versions I would stick with the real deal.

          • @2B-real

            Um, you’ve got to be kidding. Seriously. You think that Windows 7 ‘went in another direction than Windows Vista’? I’m sorry, but that had me rolling on the ground laughing. Windows 7 is just a bugfixed version of Windows Vista!

            Oh, they changed a few minor things, including the User Access Control setup, which is where you’ll find the incompatibilities.

            As to Windows 7 being the right direction, well, let’s just say that after trying Windows Vista and Windows 7, I’ve never seen so many people wanting to switch to Linux!

          • 2B-real

            You just said it all. They fixed all the bugs. They streamlined way better and took the windows out and put everybody else’s OS in it to make it better than what it has been. Again I say and stand by it, if I had to choose between either MS product it would be “win 7”. As far as switching to Linux, more power to those people. I don’t want to get into Linux because its whole new realm shit I don’t want to get into and it can very nerdy going into the history of what Linux really is.

            Have fun with it.

          • da gongji

            They are fully functioning copies of the real thing with embedded serial numbers to activate them. for 3 kuai in Hebei you can buy the real thing

  • I love Shanzhai


    That ad is complete wank, plus that little boy is so Cantonese that it hurts!

    Where can I get an i-Ped from?

  • aa

    I would sure buy those fake brands over anything, Sometime the fakes brands seems to have more cool features than even the real thing hahaa… and seriously who the fack would buy something that cost 200 times more when you can get it for cheap? and have the rest of your money invested in real assets that grows… You consumers will always stay consumers, your nothing but a TOOL that keeps the rich peoples pocket full with money. And you? your nothing but a weakass piece of shit running around in a rich people created world of consumerism.

  • Leon

    Having used a few different fake versions of Windows XP around my school, they are no the same as the original. The networking component doesn’t work properly, and I am sure there are other problems. I can’t speak for other versions of Windows.

    Spyware isn’t a huge issue, as most Chinese install QQ or 360 which are both jammed with spyware.

    For me, the bigger problem with this ad campaign is that it doesn’t tell the Chinese something they don’t already know. They already know that fake isn’t as good as the real thing, and they also know fake is a lot cheaper than the real thing. They have been making this sort of compromise for years, and I suspect feel it is quite a normal set of circumstances.

  • 无名

    haha no one seems to comment how the ad is played on youku… one of the biggest fake copies in china. modern china is a fake ass country

  • toogreen

    I highly doubt this campaign will change anything at all. Just yesterday, I was at Carrefour in Shanghai and the clerk was offering me to replace Red Flag Linux by WinXP for free if I bought one of these cheap laptops. And I don’t think he was talking about a “genuine” version of WinXP at all. I was happy to finally see Linux being pre-installed on these laptops but its a worthless effort since they obviously assume people will not want it and automatically install WinXP upon purchase for their customers.

    I remember back around 2007 when I bought a EeePC with Linux on it, it was the same thing, after I paid, the sales guy turned on the machine and automatically proceeded to install Pirate WinXP!!! I had to stop him and tell him that I actually did NOT want WinXP but keep Linux as it is. He looked at me as if I was from another planet. This country has a loooonng way to go before software piracy is gone…

    • You missed an important point – Microsoft Windows itself is a copycat product. Microsoft Windows is a knockoff of the Apple Lisa Operating system, which was upgraded to include Apple Macintosh OS features before it was released.

      Just like Microsoft DOS was a copycat of Digital Research’s CP/M product.

      So to show the courage of your convictions, you should call for everyone to drop Windows.

      There’s no one who can beat the Americans when it comes to copycating. No one.

      FYI, my experience on computers predates Microsoft’s founding.

      • Patrick

        There’s a lot of debate in the history of CP/M and QDOS. Doesn’t really matter as most of the commands in both ( and the Lisa Operating system ) were based off of UNIX commands. Many of the commands had slightly different names but operated exactly the same – most of the time even had the same switches. Eventually it really comes down to one final fact – I’m not Bill Gates and I’ll likely never make as much money in my life – that he accrues in interest taking a dump in the morning.

        FYI, my experience is the similar but I dream in vi. :wq!

  • Yan

    “aa” said it in a very clumsy manner, but he is right. I don’t understand why we denounce fake versions for products that are taking their customers for walking brainless wallets. (I mean look at the ad!) Microsfts OS are simply a joke since Vista, they pretend to take years to develop it and to add more stuff. But their main focus is on the marketing of the product, not on the development. In my opinion, a OS that makes my computer lag half a second whenever I open a folder, and makes me buy a computer with a greater performance, is a huge f*cking set back. (yes, Vista)
    1. The company doesn’t think about the real needs of their customers.
    2. Linux had interface improvements that took microsoft to figure out until W7.
    3. Most improvements from Vista were copied from the Macintosh OSs. (So much for the leader of the market)

    We are talking about one of the most powerful, and wealthy company in the entire world. Jesus! What a disappointment!

    Counterfeit exists because the real thing doesn’t distinguish itself enough from the fake. This is BASIC micro-economical knowledge! They wouldn’t even encounter as much piracy if they would implement an efficient customer support/problem troubleshot for their clients.

    So, instead doing a better product, their solution is to make the piracy look bad, by inventing problems that doesn’t exist (on good pirated copies) and taking their customers for idiots talking to them through black and white Vs. Colourful scheme.

    Its weak, that’s what it is.
    The topic itself is really interesting to me, if you have links or articles of the sort I would be glad if you would take the time to send me them. My e-mail is [email protected]
    Plus, Im writing a thesis on the evolution of the Chinese consumer behavior.

  • Kerry

    The KFC copy cracked me up. Screw microsoft and big monopolistic conglomerates, they’re so used to bullying customers in the west, China needs to teach them a lesson!

    • Pong Lenis

      Microsoft is NOT a monopole. There are plenty of other choices.

  • Meh

    Meh wth does it matter to me its all “Made in China” anyways!

    So they use unbranded name conventions for stuff big deal.

  • Chubby Master

    Microsft is a name that almost every IT guy in China hats so much. I think Microsoft did something wrong back in 1995 here in China.

    The biggest problem in China is no voice can be heard from people buying genunie Windows. Almost every Chinese IT forum in China was supporting pirated Microsoft software, they ban people who try to promote genunie MS software. If you ask a question whether or not to buy genunie MS Windows, 10 answers would come up shortly advise you to buy pirates or use the OEM BIOS mod hack method to get your Win7 activated.

    Shouldn’t Microsoft learn that most IT engineers in China are hostile to Microsoft. The Lenovo OEM master key that leaked to the Chinese public before Win7 officially launched is NOT an accident.

    Also, Microsoft should ask themselves why their products can be pirated so easily?

    Volume License product-key used by Shanghai Govenment leaked (or given) to the public and being used by million Chinese for years and MS didn’t dare to block it.

    Vista / 7:
    Add SLIC2.1 table to BIOS and import correct SLP for the specific brand motherboard to mimic an OEM pre-activated PC, this way of piracy come out since Vista and it’s getting popular. ONE-stop service at computer shopping malls for Win7 Ultimate installation (and activated) on any PC/Laptop is available for few bucks.

    Taobao auctions:
    Selling of MDSN product keys are very common.

  • cdn icehole

    Of course I understand IP problems in China are not just restricted to Microsoft Windows. I am surprised why the Chinese people are not using Linux more than Windows. Doing so will certainly avoid all this hoopla about using pirated copies of Windows.

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