Microsoft again says it is getting tough on software pirates, announcing that it has filed 52 cases against pirate software sellers in the UK and other countries. In 15 of the total 52 cases, the pirated software involved could be traced back to counterfeit syndicates in China. It is thought that between five and six million copies of the software was produced.

The illicit programs were made and sold in countries ranging from the UK and US to China and the Netherlands. Most were sold on auction websites such as eBay.

Microsoft said its users helped identify counterfeiters by filing piracy reports after anti-piracy technology in Windows Genuine Advantage indicated that their software was fake.

Almost identical

Counterfeit software is designed to closely resemble the genuine article but can contain harmful viruses, spyware, malware or other dangerous code or tools that compromise your privacy.

"Every day, software pirates around the world put countless consumers at risk by selling defective counterfeit software through internet marketplaces," said David Finn, associate general counsel for worldwide anti-piracy and anti-counterfeiting at Microsoft.

"As part of our ongoing effort to combat software piracy, Microsoft is committed to taking the legal action necessary to protect consumers around the world from the dangers of counterfeit software, and we encourage consumers to look to the legitimate channel — both online and offline — when seeking genuine Microsoft software."

Counterfeit software costs manufacturers some $40 billion every year, Microsoft said.