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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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Retail or OEM!
By smilingcrow on 5/19/2006 3:29:21 PM , Rating: 2
If MS are giving people with non-legitimate copies of XP the chance to purchase a license and CD for XP RETAIL for a substantial discount, then that seems pretty generous to me. After all, if your PC came with a legit copy of XP then it will be just an OEM version. Why offer a retail license at close to OEM pricing! Have MS explicitly stated that this is for a RETAIL license?

One reason why MS are doing this now is surely because Vista is close to release; it’s called milking a dead cow :)
I’m still using Windows 2000 because I don’t need XP and therefore haven’t wanted to pay the price for a Retail version of it, which I would need as I upgrade/migrate my system too frequently. If the OEM version had the same restrictions as the retail version I’m sure I would have bought it by now. But, for my purposes I simply can’t justify the cost of XP Retail for the perceived gains over 2000. I don’t play games otherwise it may have been more of an issue.

Vista is a different ball game as it’s obviously a much bigger change from XP than XP was from 2000. i.e. 2000 = NT 5, XP = NT 5.1, Vista = NT 6.
Therefore, I will consider buying Vista either because I think that’s it a better OS (64 bit etc) or because an application that I want requires it. In the meantime I have to say that I am tempted to purchase a copy of XP via this route, as I can then run it legitimately either as a main OS or as a VM using VMWare.

In a way, this announcement coming in the week that Dell hold hands with AMD, shows that pragmatism does have a place in an industry that often seems that it employs far too many fcuking lawyers. :(

"I f***ing cannot play Halo 2 multiplayer. I cannot do it." -- Bungie Technical Lead Chris Butcher
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