Microsoft Corp. is offering an olive branch to users of pirated versions of the Windows XP operating system.
The software giant on Wednesday unveiled the Windows XP Counterfeit Project in the U.K., offering free replacements for what it describes as "high-quality counterfeit versions" of Windows XP.
It is not yet clear if the offer will be expanded to the United States and other international markets or if it is related to the companys Windows Genuine Advantage anti-piracy program.
Microsoft officials could not be reached at press time to discuss plans for the U.S. market.
The company said anyone who is unsure of the legitimacy of their Windows XP software may submit their product for analysis. "Software that is found to be counterfeit will be replaced according to the terms and conditions of the offer," Microsoft said.
The project is being billed as the latest initiative from Microsoft to target the illegal software market. "The project will allow Microsoft to collate intelligence quickly and work with the authorities to act decisively against illegal traders," the Redmond, Wash., company said.
It could also be used to help push the migration of XP users toward Windows XP Service Pack 2 (SP2). Microsoft has blocked installation of SP2 on versions of the software with a small number of product IDs that are invalid.
Microsoft maintains a list of known pirated product IDs, and those users do not have access to the security-centric service pack.
To qualify for the XP counterfeit replacements, users must provide Microsoft with all documentation on the software, including user manuals and warranties. A receipt from the original supplier is also required along with a signed witness statement form describing how the product was acquired.
Microsoft said the offer is open to U.K. residents who bought the Windows XP Home Edition or Professional Edition versions preinstalled on a new computer before Nov. 1.
Customers who purchased a Windows XP upgrade or participated in a volume license agreement are not eligible.
The company is accepting up to five submissions per person.