Microsoft Corp is investigating the methods partner KPMG uses to crack down on the illegal use of its software in India, after a complaint from a senior member of the country’s ruling political party.
India is one of the U.S. technology firm’s biggest markets in Asia, yet over half of all software installed on computers in the country is unlicensed, advocacy group Business Software Alliance said in 2016.
A pirated compact disc of Microsoft’s Windows 10 can be bought for around $2 in New Delhi, compared with $130 needed to buy the operating system from Microsoft’s online portal.
To ensure compliance, Microsoft runs a global “software asset management” (SAM) programme under which it partners global consultants, such as KPMG in India, which seek permission from business owners to check for the use of unlicensed software.
Last month, Vinit Goenka, a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and technology adviser to the government, complained to both companies that a KPMG employee “barged in” to his Mumbai recruitment firm without an appointment to check its software.
Rajiv Sodhi, a senior Microsoft India executive, told Goenka in a March 20 email that the company was looking at the issue with “utmost seriousness”.
The employee, who identified himself in the emails as Srijesh, declined to comment.
Ratein Infotech last month received a letter from the U.S. software firm saying it needed help in “interpreting licensing policies of Microsoft”, the emails showed. The issue escalated when the KPMG employee entered Ratien’s office on March 15.
Microsoft and KPMG apologised and the employee, Srijesh, resigned, the e-mails showed.
“This is part of my regular job, that I do on a daily basis as directed by KPMG and Microsoft,” Srijesh wrote in an apology email to Goenka.
Goenka is a former employee of International Business Machines Corp and advises government committees on information technology initiatives.