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Friday, 8 May 2009

I'm chastened and expectant, having undertaken rapid instruction in the dangers of pirate software. And it wasn't even mine. When my friend installed it on my computer I may have warned her but the deed was done anyway. Now I know better and I'll be more careful next time someone asks if they can install software in my home.

I did her a favour but her software did me none today. I decided this afternoon that I was desperate for new email software. I had been using Windows Mail, a poorly-appointed client that either came with the computer when I bought it in 2006 or arrived on the Vista CD a couple of years later. This bare-bones software did the job but when replying to emails it allows the signature's font to change. Sometimes it changes to Times and sometimes it changes to Ariel. My default font is Verdana, and having recently gone into business on a self-employed basis, I decided today that appearance was more important than it had been in the past.

When I got home with the box and installed the software, I discovered that all the folders for incoming and sent emails inside the software were labelled in Chinese. This was due to my friend's copy of Office - the pirated one - influencing language selection in Outlook, the new email client I was installing. I called Microsoft and the young man in Malaysia took control of my desktop in an effort to rectify the problem. I also asked him to help me import the messages stored in the old software. This he then did and, as the thousands of messages scrolled into the new client, I rang off.

Too soon, it turned out. The message import stopped at a message received in late July 2008 for an unknown reason. Because the Malaysian had given me a case number and assured me of continued support for 30 days, I called Microsoft back. This time I spoke with Roza, who once again took control of my desktop and addressed the problem.

It's still not fixed. I need to wait until Tuesday before she calls me back to finalise the issue. In the meantime I'm using the old email client because I don't have any choice. Choice is, however, something I will certainly exercise next time I'm asked to allow a new software program to be installed on a computer that I own. And probably I'll default to refusal. It's just too much trouble otherwise.

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