• Software industry body warns of crackdown on employers
  • WebsiteSpark program offers free licensed MS software

11 February 2010, Gloucester, UK A startling number of web professionals are using unlicensed or pirated software to create websites, according to research released today by Fasthosts Internet Ltd, (www.fasthosts.co.uk), a leading web hosting provider. The poll of 500 web designers conducted with .NET magazine (www.netmag.co.uk) found that more than half of web designers and developers admit to having worked in an environment where they used unlicensed web design software. As licences for web design software can often cost small agencies thousands of pounds, recent economic pressures are a likely factor in the problem. Fasthosts recently announced its work with Microsoft to promote the WebsiteSpark program – an initiative that provides eligible users with free licenses for Microsoft Expression® and Visual Studio® software. The initiative is a good example of how web professionals can access software through legitimate schemes and so avoid the risks of using unlicensed software.

According to Fasthosts’ survey of .NET magazine readers, the use of unlicensed software by web professionals is rife in the UK. 59 per cent of those surveyed have placed themselves, their colleagues and their work at risk by using unlicensed software to create websites. If a worker uses software without a license number, or if the license only entitles its use for an individual machine and it is copied and installed on multiple computers, the company is likely to be breaking the law – often punishable with a substantial fine. In a recently reported case, a London-based website design agency was fined a 5-figure sum for its use of illegal software.

There is also strong evidence that the use of unlicensed software can be a false economy – users often face bugs and do not benefit from access to support services which can result in downtime and delays. Comments from those who took the poll suggest that the use of illegal software is a common cause of frustration and concern for the web design community. A number of those affected describe tensions between those responsible for IT budgets and licences, and creative staff expected to use the software.

Steve Holford, CMO Fasthosts Internet Ltd., said, "Great web projects can often rely on the latest software and at times businesses may be tempted to cut corners with their software licenses. Web designers should not struggle with sub-standard software or more importantly jeopardise their future by using illegal software".

Dan Oliver, Editor of .NET magazine, comments, "With tight deadlines, and tighter budgets, it's understandable - though clearly not recommended - to hear of people being asked to use pirated software. It's unrealistic to put the onus on employees, the message needs to get through to employers. We're hoping that technologies such as SaaS can go some way to lessening the problem of pirated software in the web design industry".

FAST (Federation Against Software Theft) has an ‘employee whistle-blowing’ campaign to tackle employers who pressurise staff into installing illegal software. John Lovelock, Chief Executive of FAST, comments, "The software industry is a vital part of the economy and deserves the same protection as counterfeit consumer goods. We want workers to know there is support and the means to combat any illegal behaviour by contacting us via our website www.fast.org, and have protection in law under the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 (Whistleblower Act). We hope that by raising awareness of the laws protecting employees, the number willing to blow the whistle will increase and reduce the illegal use of software," added Lovelock.

Nowadays there are industry schemes that can provide eligible web pros with free access to fully licensed professional software. For example, Microsoft’s WebsiteSpark program offers support for web design and development agencies with up to 10 employees. Eligible Fasthosts customers gain an immediate financial benefit – saving £240 per year with a free Windows Server license and saving even more with a free MSSQL license. Upon enrolment, members gain access to free Windows Expression® Studio 2 (1 user license), Expression® Web 2 (2 user licenses), Visual Studio® 2008 Professional Edition (3 user licenses) and DotNetPanel control panel.

Holford added, "Smaller web agencies, perhaps more prone to budget constraints, should be aware that there are schemes out there designed to help. WebsiteSpark is an apt example that delivers exactly what they need most – free tools and practical help. Your web host can be a good source of advice on the latest initiatives available".

Retailers can take precautions against fluctuations in website performance by ensuring that their website design and databases are optimised, and by using web hosting with unlimited traffic levels and ‘load-balancing’ – the real-time monitoring of resource that can switch visitors to the most optimal web server at that time. Retailers of all sizes are advised to regularly review the web hosting resources they have in place. Nowadays, it is vital to leverage hosting that will not restrict visits or levy charges for increases in bandwidth. Large web hosts such as Fasthosts provide tools for business owners to monitor their website bandwidth usage, including filtered reports and email alerts.

As a long-standing expert for MS web hosting, Fasthosts is a trusted partner to thousands of web professionals. Combined with Fasthosts’ current price reductions on Windows Server packages, now is an opportune time for users to refresh their access to Microsoft web development solutions. Free support and training opportunities from the WebsiteSpark program include unlimited access to technical newsgroups on MSDN, unlimited program support and two technical support consultations per membership, as well as relevant events and activities. More details can be found at www.fasthosts.co.uk/dedicatedservers/microsoft-websitespark-program or by calling 0844 583 0777.

For further information please contact:

Richard Stevenson or Thomas Pluennecke
Tel: +44 (0)1452 561 857
press@fasthosts.co.uk