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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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$150 is no bargain
By Yawgm0th on 5/15/2006 3:23:43 AM , Rating: 3
OEM XP Pro sells for under $150 shipped at Newegg and similar stores. This so-called discount isn't going to sway too many people.

RE: $150 is no bargain
By Knish on 5/15/2006 3:26:16 AM , Rating: 2
$145 if you buy a hard drive or something.

RE: $150 is no bargain
By Tim Thorpe on 5/15/2006 3:29:28 AM , Rating: 2
OEM requires a hardware purchese of some type, This does not. retailers also includes shipping, this does not.

RE: $150 is no bargain
By 9748904947 on 5/15/2006 3:41:38 AM , Rating: 2
"OEM requires a hardware purchese of some type..."

Yes, of course. *wink *wink

RE: $150 is no bargain
By PrinceGaz on 5/15/2006 7:38:47 AM , Rating: 2
Ah yes, the "hardware purchase of some kind". There are plenty of retailers who either ignore that requirement, or would be happy provided you bought some token hardware like a printer-cable in order to qualify for OEM software.

Of course $150 for a full version of XP is still better than $140 or so for OEM because Microsoft often decide OEM copies are no longer valid if you change too much hardware, and most of us probably change hardware frequently.

OEM Is No Bargain
By Pete84 on 5/16/2006 5:03:03 AM , Rating: 2
I add hard drives (or remove them) every month or so, and RAM size is always fluxuating.

I Run Windows 2000 for simplicity, legality, and the fact that I have old hardware. Hoorah for old OS's.

RE: OEM Is No Bargain
By Saist on 5/17/2006 11:47:34 AM , Rating: 2

you do realize that Windows 2k Pro SP4 is identical to Windows XP SP1 and that there are no code differences at the operating system level?

Not that Microsoft would be happy with people realizing the performance differences between the exact same identical operating system.

RE: $150 is no bargain
By Viper007Bond on 5/16/2006 4:25:12 PM , Rating: 2
Eh, the current key I'm using came from a Dell PC I bought like 4 years ago (i.e. it's a OEM key). I've formatted a dozen times or so since then and used many different hardware configurations and I'm still kicking. :)

RE: $150 is no bargain
By Viper007Bond on 5/16/2006 4:23:14 PM , Rating: 2
Newegg automatically bundles a free piece of hardware with copies of XP that you buy. It's like a 99 cent power supply wire splitter. lol

So, in total, $141.99 + $2 in shipping = legal XP Pro with a CD and everything. :)

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