As Microsoft kicked off the global launch of its long-awaited Windows Vista, the software giant's new operating system also hit the streets of China -- in pirated form.
In an electronic market in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen, scores of sellers were offering the brand new software for as little as 10 yuan (1.3 US dollars), along with Microsoft Office, anti-virus software and others.
The sellers said Tuesday Vista was available even several weeks before its launch, although they would not say how they got hold of the version.
Described as the "official version of the new generation operating system" on its cover, the pirated copy offered an identification code at the back of the disk for downloading the software.
Vista, an operating system that took five years and six billion dollars to develop, hit the shops in 70 countries around the world Tuesday.
Counterfeiting remains widespread in China despite government efforts to control the problem following pressure from trade partners, particularly the United States and the European Union.