The big picture: Microsoft is extending an olive branch in its never-ending battle against those who use its software without paying. Rather than threaten legal action against Office pirates, Microsoft for a limited time is offering offenders half off the price of a Microsoft 365 subscription.

Some Microsoft counterfeit software users are seeing a promotional banner for 50 percent off. Clicking the link takes you to this page, which explains the risks associated with using pirated software such as higher exposure to virus and malware attacks, the potential for corrupted files and data loss, and the inability to receive critical security updates.

The fine print notes that the discount only applies to the first year of an annual Microsoft 365 personal or family subscription, and that a credit card is required. After the first year, the subscription will continue at the regular yearly rate unless cancelled. What's more, existing Microsoft 365 subscribers are not eligible for the reduced rate.

Related reading: Microsoft increasing price for Office 365 and Microsoft 365 next year

A campaign to convince someone that is already using functional software to suddenly pay for it is likely to have a low success rate, but every situation is unique. Perhaps someone is only pirating a piece of software because they genuinely cannot afford to purchase it. That doesn't make it right, but it might not be fair to file them in the category of scumbag, either.

Consider the music industry. Millions of people that once pirated songs now pay for monthly subscriptions to streaming services, highlighting that change is possible.