When it launched its "Windows Genuine Advantage" pilot program in September, Microsoft Corp. was hoping 20,000 customers would opt into the voluntary program, via which Microsoft checks whether customers are running counterfeit copies of Windows.
But by a little over a month later, 828,000 customers had opted in, Microsoft officials said Wednesday. And they did so with no real incentives, admitted David Lazar, director of Microsofts Windows client product management group.
What led to the unexpected boon?
"People want to know if they are running genuine software," Lazar said. "And people really were interested to find out if there were any benefits for opting in."
Until Thursday, there were no tangible benefits to participating in the Microsoft Genuine Advantage program. But now, users who agree to participate in Microsofts program will be offered up to $390 worth of software for free or reduced prices.
Microsoft is offering English-speaking Genuine Advantage participants a free copy of Photo Story 3 for Windows; five MSN Zone games for half price; a free trial version of its OneNote note-taking product; a free copy of the Microsoft Holiday Fun Pack; a hosted version of SharePoint for half-price; and a subscription to the Microsoft List Builder service for less than $10 a month.
Microsoft also will be expanding the Genuine Advantage pilot to include four languages in addition to English: Simplified Chinese (for PRC Singapore); Traditional Chinese (for Hong Kong); Norwegian; and Czech.
To participate in Microsofts Genuine Advantage program—which is aimed primarily at home and small-business customers—users need to visit the Microsoft Download Center and request to download one or more of the "genuine" Windows products from that site.
At that point, users are asked whether they are willing to validate that their copies of Windows are real. They do this by activating their software, a process via which Microsoft creates a match between the customers PC hardware profile and 25-character product key.
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