Microsoft Corp. is offering a new incentive to get Windows users to turn in vendors selling allegedly counterfeit products: It is offering to replace their pirated Windows copies for free.
Microsoft announced the newest wrinkle to its Windows Genuine Advantage program on Wednesday.
Launched in September 2004, Windows Genuine Advantage is an anti-piracy program. It is designed to check whether consumer and small-business customers are running legitimately licensed copies of Windows XP. Users validate by providing Microsoft-requested system information, including their Windows product keys, names of PC manufacturers and operating system versions, which the Redmond, Wash., software company uses to determine if customers are running legitimate copies of Windows.
Microsoft has been testing the Genuine Advantage program on the Microsoft Download Center, where it has been requesting that users validate their copies of XP before obtaining certain Microsoft programs, patches and fixes for download.
Currently, Windows Genuine Advantage is an opt-in program for most users. Microsoft is testing a mandatory version of the program among Simplified Chinese, Czech and Norweigan users. But the program is set to become required for all Windows users in the summer of 2005, Microsoft officials have said.
Prior to todays announcement, if users copies of Windows failed validation, Microsoft required them to seek help from their resellers. If the resellers failed to provide legitimate replacmenet copies, Microsoft asked the users to purchase their own replacement copies for the full retail price of $299.