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The counterfeit notification

Clicking the counterfeit notification gives the user the ability to purchase a new license

Upgrading from an openly pirated version of windows costs a mere $149

The checkout process completed
Users running illegal copies of Windows XP are being offered discounted purchase prices

Recently in the DailyTech labs we had a test bed machine that was giving us "this copy of Windows is not genuine" messages. Last week we tried to remedy the message by following Microsoft's recommended course of action, which was to verify the copy through its website and purchase a legitimate key. When we attempted to do so, Microsoft's website indicated that the upgrade service was not available to US customers (or any customers as far as we could tell).

On a whim we tried again this evening and it appears that Microsoft has updated its website and now allows US users of pirated or counterfeit versions of Windows XP to buy legitimate keys for $149 each -- a unique key is still required for each computer that runs Windows XP. The full version of Microsoft Windows XP Professional retails for $249.99, which means if you purchase the CD and key from Microsoft, there is a net savings of $100.  The OEM version of Windows XP can be purchased online from online vendors, but this discounted version requires the purchase of hardware.  Microsoft waives all shipping and handling charges, but sales taxes is still added onto the purchase. 

The new Genuine Advantage program is intended for unsuspecting users who have inadvertently purchased counterfeit copies of Windows XP. To fight against piracy while allowing honest customers to go legit, Microsoft is allowing users a discounted purchase option while informing users that an authentic Windows XP will benefit from greater support and security. All high risk security updates are still available via Windows Update for illegitimate copies of the operating system, but non-critical updates require legitimate keys.

Last month DailyTech reported that pirated versions of Windows Vista would be crippled. It appears that Microsoft will begin using more aggressive tactics to persuade users to purchase legitimate copies of the Windows operating system.

People looking for instant gratification however will be disappointed. Once a customer purchases the "Genuine Advantage Kit" from Microsoft's website, it may take up to 10 days before the product key is sent. Users will also receive a Windows XP CD in the mail, but this will take 2-4 weeks for delivery. A Microsoft Passport account is also required to receive your CD key, but an account can be created for free within a few minutes.

Microsoft previously had a program where users would send in the pirated installation disc as well as a receipt of where the illegal copy of Windows XP or system it came on was purchased from. The requirement was later scratched because it was decided that the process was too much of a hassle for consumers.  Microsoft still has other methods of "getting legit," including a program where you can get a free copy of Windows if you reveal the source where you obtained the pirated copy.

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By Kromis on 5/15/2006 3:14:22 AM , Rating: 2
They're just trying to make money...

A pirated version is still as good as a legit one...I think...

RE: Bah...
By Bonrock on 5/15/2006 3:38:02 AM , Rating: 4
Actually, it's not. For one thing, pirated copies can only access Windows Update through the automatic updates service. You can't go to the Windows Update site, which means you can't get optional/non-critical updates.

In addition, a lot of the free add-ons and updated programs Microsoft has been releasing for Windows XP now require validation of your copy of Windows. That means if you have an illegal copy, you can't install Windows Defender or the Internet Explorer 7 beta. I'm guessing the Windows Media Player 11 beta will also have this restriction when it's released this Wednesday.

So yes, there are advantages to going legal. Besides the fact that you won't have a guilty conscience about stealing a program (Windows XP) that you've probably used every single day of the past 4.5 years.

RE: Bah...
By Zoomer on 5/15/2006 4:16:09 AM , Rating: 5
RE: Bah...
By segagenesis on 5/15/2006 6:15:48 AM , Rating: 3
The unfortunate thing is all of that was (and still is) easily bypassed with an illegitimate copy. Apparently the advantages of being legal are having to jump through hoops every time you have to prove yet again you own the software. Rather annoying still for those who actually buy windows, on top of that activation.

RE: Bah...
By Spoonbender on 5/15/2006 8:33:52 AM , Rating: 5
Sadly, that's true. The main "feature" of my legit version of Windows is that I have to activate it when I install it. And I have to activate it again two hours later, when I install hardware drivers. And I have to activate it again if I dare to buy a new HDD or something equally suspicious.

And if I screw up during installation, and have to start over, I'm out of luck. I can't activate it again within too soon after a previous activation.

RE: Bah...
By Spoonbender on 5/15/2006 8:36:21 AM , Rating: 3
Oh yeah, and if I dare think about downloading any software from MSDN, I have to prove every damn time, that I'm running a legal version of Windows. (Yes, I know this would be a bit easier if I'd used IE instead of Firefox, but it'd be easier still if MS actually trusted their customers)

RE: Bah...
By Bonrock on 5/15/06, Rating: -1
RE: Bah...
By jkostans on 5/15/2006 12:58:06 PM , Rating: 2
More often then you might think. I would never put a legal copy of windows on my computer, even if i owned it. It's too much of a hassle. I prefer a stripped down version with nothing but the essentials. Who uses mediaplayer or actually wants the "optional" updates? Not me, I don't like unecessary crap. Maybe microsoft should sell a "naked" version of windows for the people who want an OS, not the bloated piece of junk that is XP retail.

RE: Bah...
By Wonga on 5/15/2006 2:55:24 PM , Rating: 3
LOL, sometimes I really find it hard to believe how much trouble some people have with a geniune version of Windows. Personally, I have a geniune copy of XP Pro and very rarely have problems with it.

Sure, when I install Windows then I have to activate it. Whether before or after I've installed all the drivers, it doesn't ask to be activated again.

Upgrading the memory? No problem. Graphics card? No Problem. New hard disk, sound card, processor? No problem.

Even when I did I complete overhaul of my computer in February, replacing all but the sound card, then it activated fine once Windows was installed. Maybe it's because I don't replace everything every week, but I really don't suffer from the same problems as others here.

To be honest, there was one time (about three years back) when I installed something (I must have replaced a lot of things without reinstalling Windows in all that time) and Windows wanted me to re-activate on bootup. Well, two seconds later it was done over the internet.

OK, so I realise that a lot of people's milage will differ here, depending on quite how often you do upgrade (and people shouldn't be penalised for upgrading too often) but from my perpective this is one of those things that people try to condone piracy for, similar to how CD prices are extortionate so downloading MP3s is OK. Well, Windows is damn good value, as a previous user stated, for half a decades use (and potentially a lot longer) so people should just buy it and stop looking for an excuse. Microsoft isn't really an evil giant - I think all the work they've put into service packs and updates more than compensates for the money you paid five years ago.

Just my 2 cents :)

RE: Bah...
By timmiser on 5/16/2006 2:15:33 PM , Rating: 2
When the activation system works, its a piece of cake and no problem whatsoever. However, it doesn't always work and sometimes you have to jump through hoops to convice the operator that you are legitmately reinstalling your software after upgrading. It is those times when you want thow up your hands in disgust of the whole activation system.

RE: Bah...
By Jedi2155 on 5/18/2006 11:14:39 PM , Rating: 2
Try moving to the european union....

RE: Bah...
By mindless1 on 5/20/2006 6:19:10 AM , Rating: 2
Well they called that "Windows 2000"

RE: Bah...
By Spoonbender on 5/15/2006 3:10:03 PM , Rating: 2
Does it matter how often you upgrade? My point was that you get more trouble from of a legit version than a pirated one.

"Sounds like that would be easily solved if you just install your hardware drivers before activating Windows. After all, they do give you 30 days or something, don't they?"
Yes, but they don't exactly say "Please don't activate until you've installed every driver and plugged in every piece of hardware".

Yes, it's all "easily solvable". After all, I'm posting here from my Windows computer.

But it'd have been even easier if I'd used a pirated version of Windows, or if I used an OS made by a company who trusted their customers. That's the sad part. Microsoft should offer *more* value to customers who use legit software, not less. And they should punish people who use pirated software, not those who don't. No matter how mild the "punishment" is, it's the wrong people who are affected by it.

RE: Bah...
By WileECoyote on 5/15/2006 4:13:56 PM , Rating: 2
Your right it so hard to activate I can understand how you feel. I mean you have to click on that activate now button. Sometimes my finger throbs like George Jetson's

RE: Bah...
By WileECoyote on 5/15/06, Rating: 0
RE: Bah...
By TomZ on 5/15/2006 4:31:17 PM , Rating: 3
But it'd have been even easier if I'd used a pirated version of Windows, or if I used an OS made by a company who trusted their customers.

Pretty damn ironic coming from someone advocating running a pirated (illegal) version of Windows.

I think Microsoft has already going through the exercise of giving folks the benefit of the doubt. All it has proven is that folks will steal if they think they won't get caught.

RE: Bah...
By bob661 on 5/15/2006 9:04:46 PM , Rating: 2
All it has proven is that folks will steal if they think they won't get caught.
I'm sure that is a reason for some but definitely not all. I'm going to agree with the other poster about convenience. It IS indeed a non-hassle when running a pirated copy of Windows. You can reinstall to your hearts delight. Install whatever patches you want and there's no issues whatsoever. It doesn't matter at all how easy it is to get solve these issues. What matters is that the paying customer has to get around these issues but the illegal user does not. How right or fair is that?

RE: Bah...
By mindless1 on 5/20/2006 6:27:32 AM , Rating: 2
That's just it, i don't volunteer to pay for an OS and then have them act as though they have a 2nd say in whether it gets to run, nor to have to call at ALL.

That it is necessary I can accept, if they substantially lowered the price to reflect that it is having an effect on piracy and thus selling them more copies of windows, but we know that's nonsense, they are not a struggling company and their Windows OS market is saturated. The last thing they need is to sell more licenses, rather less so they have to start listening to customers concerns.

To this day it's possible to open an email with OE and get infected by a virus. That is ludicrous and MS should be sued onto oblivion for it alone. Product is not fit for it's advertised use. Yes, any half-experienced user knows better. Problem is, MS is not marketing this towards nor testing to limit sales only to these people, and the rest cause the epidemics that also effect those who would never do such a silly thing.

I think we are giving MS the benefit of the doubt that they have any reasonable excuse after sweeping the entire PC market year after year after year. They do it not because of piracy, but rather than their monopoly allows them to enforce things an open market would not tolerate.

RE: Bah...
By devolutionist on 5/16/2006 3:41:32 PM , Rating: 2
"And I've never had to reactivate just for buying a new hard drive."

Absolutely you do. As a matter of fact, I had to re-activate my legal copy recently because I upgraded my memory to 2G (all old DIMMs out, all new DIMMs in).

I tinker with my PC a lot and it's a total pain in the ass having to re-activate all the time. I don't even have the option of internet activation - I've got to call their dumb-ass IVR and enter the zillion numbers in the activation string.

All that being said, I still wouldn't use an illegit copy of Windows. However I WOULD (and certainly do) use linux on all of my other PCs. If I were to buy copies of windows for all of them I'd be spending more on OS than they're worth in the first place. Wonder how that adds up over in Microsoft land? If their OS was reasonably priced, then I'd never have gotten into linux. If I hadn't gotten into linux, I wouldn't have had my eyes opened as to how crappy XP and the other Microsoft OSs are.

Funny how that worked out, huh?

RE: Bah...
By Wonga on 5/17/2006 1:26:39 PM , Rating: 2
What do you call a reasonable price? I got XP Pro for about £70 (academic price) 5 years ago. So, for the price of about two and a half new computer games, or 5 new DVDs, or however you want to price it, I've had an operating system that's worked (and worked well) for 5 years, used every single day for hours at a time. Combined with 5 years of Microsoft releasing updates for it, I don't think £70 (or even the £120 if I wasn't a student) was at all unreasonable. Anyone on minimum wage in a developed country (unless I'm missing some countries here that have minimum wage at a truely awful rate) can easily afford that if they wanted to pay.

RE: Bah...
By mindless1 on 5/20/2006 6:32:20 AM , Rating: 2
That's ridiculous. Anyone on minimum wage could afford a $150 toothbrush too, or afford any other singular luxury, but not ALL of them, nor a lot of them. So you are making a special exception that they're going to do without other things to buy windows. Besides this, if they are so poor, it stands to reason they'll get a used PC, which due to MS' monopoly, typically already has a licensed copy of windows so they don't need to buy XP at all.

That doesn't mean I advocate pirating it, just that your argument is short-sighted.

RE: Bah...
By PrinceGaz on 5/15/2006 7:46:49 AM , Rating: 2
According to someone I met in a pub last night, it takes about two minutes to get around the WGA validation. When they updated the WGA check (like they did a few months ago to prevent it being disabled simply by disabling the module in IE), he simply did a quick google and found a fix which has allowed him full access to WIndows Update ever since.

RE: Bah...not quite
By breethon on 5/15/2006 10:06:19 AM , Rating: 2
Nice one that is funny. Oh but you can! My copy is legit, but I have seen some floating around that can update any way you choose.

RE: Bah...
By xstylus on 5/18/2006 1:16:36 AM , Rating: 2
Some people would have a more guilty conscience if they actually did pay for a legit copy.

RE: Bah...
By vanka on 5/19/2006 6:35:57 PM , Rating: 2
Bonrock my friend, you are greatly mistaken. There are many different ways to get updates for a pirated verson of Windows, even through Windows Update. As for the Genuine Advantage notification, it is a simple matter of just not installing the program in Windows Update.

RE: Bah...
By TomZ on 5/15/2006 11:16:15 AM , Rating: 2
Yes, and a stolen car drives just as well as one you own yourself. Just because a pirated version "works," does that make it (theft) right?

I think one bad side effect of the open-source movement is that people feel justified in making illegal copies of software. The thing we have to remember is, that the right to copy software is the legal right of the author. If the author grants rights to copy the software, then it is legally and ethically right for us to do so. But if someone decides to sell their software intead, then we have no legal, moral, or ethical basis to copy it.

I don't know why the distinction between right and wrong is so blurred these days. Right and wrong in this case is absolute and clear. Theft is wrong, period.

RE: Bah...
By bob661 on 5/15/2006 9:10:26 PM , Rating: 2
I think one bad side effect of the open-source movement is that people feel justified in making illegal copies of software.
What does making illegal copies have to do with the open source movement? In the open source world, there are NO illegal copies. Copying is legal AND encouraged. Using Windows illegally is a crime, no doubt. I think M$ is on the right track here offering legal, RETAIL copies of Windows for cheap. That's a great deal if you ask me. Although, like another poster said, if I was running Windows illegally, I would not install the legal copy. Much less hassle that way.

RE: Bah...
By mindless1 on 5/20/2006 6:47:15 AM , Rating: 2
We have ethical problems because you are confusing YOUR ethics with altruism. Your subjective opinion has it's place, but that place stops right about when you try to project it onto others.

For the record-
1) It's not "theft". Illegal yes, theft no.
2) It is ridiculous to project that people are rationalizing pirated software due to open source sw.
3) The thing we have to remember is, first things first. Before Windows XP became this desirable to copy software, MS became a monopoly that had to necessarily be ended. XP cannot belong to MS because MS cannot exist to own it. Fair is fair, we can't just ignore one reality to presuppose another in the same context.
4) It has nothing to do with copying software. It has to do with the license to run it.
5) We can have a million moral or ethical reasons to do something that is illegal, and indeed we do, do things moral and ethical (as considered by the majority) that are illegal in other countries. Do not confuse legality with morality or ethics. They are not the same even if you subjectively want them to be. That doesn't excuse illegal behavior though, it is nonetheless illegal if one disagrees with it morally.
6) Trying to impose your values on others is the same mindset that has cost mankind all those nasty wars and millions of deaths. There can be no doubt that taken issue by issue, all of us do "something" that at least one other person finds wrong in some way. Maybe your shoes cause the death of innocent cows. Who knows, there are always excuses to look down one's nose at another who isn't just like "us".

RE: Bah...
By Angry Steve on 5/15/2006 8:20:17 PM , Rating: 3
Microsoft is just trying to make money??

This is certainly a news flash to me considering in a capitalistic society, businesses aren't possibly out to make a profit.

"People Don't Respect Confidentiality in This Industry" -- Sony Computer Entertainment of America President and CEO Jack Tretton
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