JAKARTA (AFP) - Microsoft, the world's largest software maker, is to grant Indonesia an amnesty on pirated versions of its Windows program used on government computers in exchange for a token payment, a report said.
Under the deal, up to 50,000 computers running illegal software would be legalized at a dollar each, Information Minister Sofyan Djalil said, according to the Jakarta Post daily.
In exchange, Indonesia would promise to purchase authorized Microsoft merchandise in the future and launch a major crackdown on a pirated software racket that is believed to be one of the world's worst.
Djalil said the amnesty proposal emerged from a meeting between Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Microsoft founder
Bill Gates at the company's headquarters in Seattle last month.
"Microsoft is being realistic. They can't force developing countries like us to solely use legal software since we can't afford it. They want us to gradually reduce our use of it," Djalil said.
A study by the Business Software Alliance, an organisation of representing leading manufacturers including Microsoft, showed that 87 percent of the software on the market in Indonesia was pirated in 2004.
Counterfeiting in Indonesia cost the industry millions of dollars, the study said.