Microsoft New Zealand has uncovered six Auckland computer stores that were selling PCs loaded with unlicensed versions of Windows.
A source at one of the companies said Microsoft was partially to blame, according to Computerworld.
The alleged offenders were IT Serve International (in the suburb of Birkenhead), Comtech International (Panmure), D&J IT Solutions (Pakuranga), Computer Xpress (Mt Albert), R.A.Y Tech (Birkenhead), and Powernet Computers (Mt Albert), Microsoft said.
Microsoft said the companies had all admitted the breach of copyright and paid out a combined $34,000 in settlements.
"It tends to be the smaller, local computer stores that are the ones selling unauthorised software in New Zealand," said legal counsel for Microsoft, Clayton Noble.
"We don't put these people out of business, but it's important that we stop them selling the unauthorised software, which can often be full of malware that is capable of compromising computer security and even facilitating identity theft. Some strains of counterfeit software products contain hidden key-logging software that allows criminals to steal passwords, bank account details and other personal information."
Microsoft said some pirated software is also unable to download important security updates.