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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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Just get OEM
By Sunday Ironfoot on 5/15/2006 6:44:36 AM , Rating: 2
"The OEM version of Windows XP can be purchased online from online vendors, but this discounted version requires the purchase of hardware."

Dunno if they still do but were selling OEM version of XP Pro with a $1 mouse (no not kidding) for around $150. I suppose a mouse technically counts as a hardware component :)

RE: Just get OEM
By bldckstark on 5/15/2006 12:23:29 PM , Rating: 2
I once bought a copy (OEM) because it DID NOT require a hardware purchase. When the box came it had the WIN CD and a CD-ROM audio cable in it. The cable was on the packing slip listed as one cent. They didn't require a purchase because they just threw the thing in the box at shipping time.

RE: Just get OEM
By bob661 on 5/15/2006 9:14:01 PM , Rating: 2
The problem with OEM is you can only use it on the computer you installed it on. And I think in our case, when you change the motherboard, you are required to purchase a new copy of Windows. I think that is how it goes. But in all honesty, I don't think M$ is that anal about being legit. After all, you do still have a legal copy of Windows.

RE: Just get OEM
By KenGoding on 5/17/2006 11:20:38 AM , Rating: 2
I've read their actual OEM agreement online, it's supposed to be packaged with non-peripheral hardware. Thus the mouse is illegal and the CD audio wire is legal. However the packaging that I now get when I buy my OEM stuff from my wholesaler indicates that it's only supposed to go with a "complete" computer.

So now I don't fully know what the legal requirements are, at my shop I generally try to get people to buy one of the major internal components, hard drive or motherboard being my favorites, but I'll do a CD drive or even a fan if it comes down to it.

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