This week I saw some interesting new billboards up in the capital of my adopted “country,” Kosovo. They’re advertisements from Microsoft asking for people to use legally licensed software…something unheard of here in Kosovo. The billboards say that discounts of up to 50% are available on Microsoft products until the 15th of June. I had to laugh a little bit because several months ago I went through significant hassles trying to buy licenses for the computers in our community center.
I called Redmond and was told that they couldn't help me…I’d have to call someone in the country where I lived. Since there are no retailers here and since I work with a legitimate non-profit organization I called Microsoft in Germany, where our regional office is located. They weren’t any help either. They suggested I go to my local retailer. When I suggested that there are no legal retailers in Kosovo, the man seemed a little offended and asked, “Have you looked? I answered that I’d lived here for three years and had never seen a retailer selling software. There is too much competition from the bootleggers on the streets. In the end he suggested I drive to Zagreb, Croatia to a retailer there where I could buy MS products normally.
Since Zagreb is about 12 hours away, I decided that wasn’t a realistic alternative. In all I spent a lot of time on the telephone before I finally found a solution that allowed us to buy our software legally.
I laughed when I saw these billboards wondering if I’m the guy that spilled the beans about Kosovo to the guys in Redmond.