Genuine Windows Offer

By Peter Galli  |  Posted 2005-07-26 Print this article Print

Microsoft was also planning to announce on Tuesday a program known as the Genuine Windows Offer, which is targeted at those people who are genuine victims of counterfeit Windows software and who would thus be unable to pass the validation process. There are two options for those users: Firstly, Microsoft will give a free copy of the software to those users who can provide proof of purchase, the original counterfeit CD, and who have filed a counterfeit report.
The second option available to those users who fail the validation process is to buy a legitimate product key from Microsoft at a cost of $99 for Windows XP Home and $149 for Windows XP Pro, both of which are lower than the full retail price.
They will also have to file a counterfeit report. These users systems will also be scanned to make sure they still have all the original, intact, unaltered Windows system files on their machine. If they do not, usually because these were changed to enable the download of the counterfeit software, Microsoft will send them a new copy of the product rather than converting their license online. Lazar stressed that the validation process is "an anonymous process, as our Privacy Statement is very strict and says that we do not collect any information that can be used to identify or contact the user." He says he also felt that Microsoft has done a good job addressing customers privacy concerns by starting off slowly, allowing users to opt-in and with a limited number of languages, and rolling the plan out in a measured way to let customers get used to the idea. "We have also done an audit with TÜV-IT, a German IT consulting firm, and they have certified our privacy policy by auditing our practices and databases to ensure that we are sticking to that policy. We think that will allay any privacy concerns," he said. Asked why Microsoft used a German consulting firm rather than an American one to certify its privacy policy, Lazar said privacy concerns are at the forefront in Europe, and that German privacy laws are very strict. If Microsoft meets that rigorous standard, its customers should be reassured about its commitment, he said. Microsoft is also offering Genuine Windows customers "freebies and discounts worth $450, including things like Photo Storage 3 and discounts on Web hosting for small businesses," he said. With regard to the brouhaha that arose around Wine, an open source implementation of the Windows application programming interface that allows Windows applications to run on Unix and Linux, Lazar said "the confusion there stems from the fact that people felt that Wine users should be able to run Office and receive Office updates. "Running Office on top of Wine is a totally legitimate use of our licensing, and Office updates are totally available to Wine users. But what we are not going to do is provide updates to Windows for Wine users. Those users need to get those updates from the community that builds and supports Wine," he said. Click here to read more about the Wine controversy. Asked how much revenue Microsoft hoped to derive from getting some users of pirated or illegal Windows software to go legal, Lazar said that while Microsoft had some thoughts on that matter, the most important goal is for customers to recognize the difference and to ask for Genuine Windows when they buy a new system. While the piracy rate in the United States is not as high as elsewhere in the world, the absolute volume of systems involved is the same in China and as in the United States. Bonnie MacNaughton, the lead attorney for Microsofts U.S. anti-piracy enforcement program, told eWEEK that there would be between 12 million and 13 million unlicensed new PCs in the United States in the coming year, which "is an enormous problem for us. I think a substantial percentage of those customers will not know that the have illegal software," she said. MacNaughton, whose group also deals with education and engineering, including product activation technologies and the edge-to-edge holographic designs Microsoft uses on its discs to minimize the ability of people to counterfeit its software, said the Windows Genuine Advantage program slots into the education side and that a Web site has been developed to help customers determine if their software is genuine. "The WGA program takes that educational component to the next level by giving customers an online tool to validate their software and to understand whether they in fact received what they paid for." A recent study by the Business Software Alliance and research firm IDC found that the worldwide piracy rate is 36 percent, and in the United States, the rate is a "staggering" 22 percent, MacNaughton said. The full BSA/IDC piracy report is available online in PDF form. "A fifth of the computers in the United States are running illegal software, and this is a problem costing the global economy more than $31 billion on an annual basis. WGA is one of the activities we are engaging in to address the educational program around this," she said. Check out eWEEK.coms for Microsoft and Windows news, views and analysis.

Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at


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