16

I saw this claim at TorrentFreak:

However, a signal soldier serving in Qatar informs TorrentFreak that this incident may not be as unique as it sounds. According to the soldier, who we will name Mark, the soldiers’ education center at his base has 18 computers which all run unlicensed copies of Windows 7.

Does the US base in Qatar have unlicensed versions of Windows 7 running on their computers?

  • 16
    Isn't piracy the United States Navy's department? – Andrew Grimm Dec 24 '13 at 3:34
  • 2
    Barring finding news of a copyright raid on the US Army in Qatar, I'm not sure this question is answerable here. – Ken Y-N Dec 24 '13 at 3:50
  • @AndrewGrimm I used to think spying was the CIA's department, but I was apparently wrong (and yes, the link text is poetic justice:) – ike Dec 25 '13 at 20:44
29

The claim is false. The soldier does not have evidence of unlicensed software.

The claims are based entirely on photographs and witness statements from an anonymous source. There are a number of problems with the claim:

  1. The photos show computers which have not been activated. This is not the same thing as unlicensed.
  2. The US Army negotiates to license software directly with suppliers, both deliberately and after screwing up. The activation state is therefore even less evidence of unlicensed software. Remember, the license is an agreement between the US Army and the supplier, only they know what it says, and neither are likely to share. The only evidence we might see would be a court case.
  3. The photos clearly show Dell OEM product keys running on several identical Dell Optiplex computers. The US Army spends $millions with Dell. Nothing in the photos suggests they came from a source who might be distributing unlicensed copies of Windows.

In my opinion, the most likely explanation is simply that the US Army's secure network and the base's remote location have prevented the activation from working correctly over the internet. It's worth noting that the linked article says this, though not in as many words:

From the information we received it is unclear why the computers are not licensed. Perhaps the legitimate keys were lost, perhaps there are no valid keys available, or maybe the Army has fallen victim to the consumer unfriendliness of DRM.

What we do know is that the Department of Defense has a long-standing relationship with Microsoft. Earlier this year both parties signed a $617 million licensing deal to bring Windows 8 to the Army, Air Force, and Defense Information Systems Agency.

In summary, there is no evidence to support this claim.

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