Steve Ballmer has pointed the finger at software pirates after poor sales of Microsoft' s new operating system Windows Vista . Ballmer, who is estimated to be the 24th richest person in the world with a fortune of around £7 billion, took over from Bill Gates at CEO of Microsoft in 2000.

He said to analysts that Microsoft's initial predictions for Windows Vista sales were "overly optimistic" and he set the blame firmly in the camps of hardcore software hackers in countries such as China and Russia.

The bad news for the people who actually paid for a copy if Windows Vista is that Ballmer is now touting a beefed-up Windows Genuine Advantage which would make it harder for pirates, and would also likely be even more inconvenient for legitimate users.

"Piracy reduction can be a source of Windows revenue growth, and I think we'll make some piracy improvements this year." He said, and also indicated that it would be very simple to update the Genuine Advantage validation process.

"We will really ferret through how far we can dial it up, and what that means for customer experience and customer satisfaction" he went on.

It's very interesting that Microsoft is blaming poor Vista sales on the pirates; heaven forbid the reason could actually be that Windows Vista is just not wanted by the large percentage of legitimate computer users.