Now my kids have a DS and PSP and GBA and they have loads of original games which they paid for themselves (and they currently only get £3 p/w each but can earn more cash by helping out around the house)..
I wish my parents were as generous (can you adopt me?
). I got no allowance and any money I had came from jobs (I had a paper route when I was 8). When I had a CoCo 2, I got 1 game for my birthday and that was it. This is why I originally got into programming - to make my own games.
When I got an Amiga (paid for by working), I only bought 5 games plus Deluxe Paint and I got copies of about 10 games. I have no guilt over those 10 copied games and would have gotten more copies if I could. Since upgrading my Amiga in 2002, I have paid for another 38 games and 19 applications but I have also gotten about 200 games, 50 applications and thousands of useful other things for free. Thank god I didn't have to pay for all of it. (especially these days)
I think piracy was great for the computer companies, not so great for the software companies. Computers with tons of cracked games were the most popular and had the best sales. Compare Atari 800 sales with C64. Atari 800 had cartridges which were impossible to copy and the C64 had rampant piracy. Atari 800 disappeared while the C64 went on to be the best selling computer of all time. (and besides the SID chip, the Atari 800 was the superior computer)
As for pirating Microsoft software, if I owned a PC I wouldn't hesitate for a second. First of all, I hate Microsoft and would love it if they died because of bankruptcy due to piracy. I think the bigger and more evil the corporation, the more I'd feel like ripping it off (they wouldn't hesitate ripping me off). I'd only feel bad ripping off a small friendly company or single developer making great software.