In 2005, Microsoft Corp. plans to enhance its anti-piracy engineering, education and enforcement efforts by expanding the Windows Genuine Advantage program.
Windows Genuine Advantage checks the authenticity of a user's software and provides access to popular software and other benefits, helping consumers and businesses ensure that they are receiving the greater reliability, faster access to updates, and richer user experiences offered by genuine Windows XP software.
Every year, millions of consumers and businesses worldwide are hurt by counterfeit software that they have purchased unwittingly, and many companies that sell legitimate software have difficulty competing with the artificially low prices offered by software counterfeiters. Counterfeit software puts users at risk of receiving an inferior product that may present security risks, be missing code or contain malicious code.
"Software piracy costs customers, software vendors and national economies billions of dollars every year. The best way to fight software piracy is to ensure that users recognize and receive all the benefits of genuine software," said Will Poole, senior vice president of the Windows Client Business at Microsoft. "When our customers participate in Windows Genuine Advantage, they will know they have easy access to updates, added-value software offerings and other benefits of genuine Windows XP, not the uncertainty and risks of counterfeit software."
Introduced as an optional pilot program to users of English-language versions of Windows in September 2004, Windows Genuine Advantage already helps protect millions of Windows users from an inferior computing experience, viruses and other vulnerabilities that can result from counterfeit software. According to the Business Software Alliance Global Software Piracy Study, conducted by International Data Corp. and released in July 2004, 36 percent of the software installed on computers worldwide was pirated in 2003. Microsoft aims to reduce the impact of pirated software on legitimate software resellers and economies around the world, which lose nearly $29 billion a year to pirated software, according to the Business Software Alliance.
Windows Genuine Advantage Going Global, Adding Incentives
Response to the pilot program has far exceeded Microsoft's expectations, with more than 5 million people voluntarily taking part since the program began in September 2004. Based on feedback from customers and in line with Microsoft's ongoing commitment to fighting piracy and increasing the value of Windows, on Feb. 7 Windows Genuine Advantage will expand in the following ways:
Twenty new language versions of Windows XP will be added to the opt-in pilot program on the Microsoft Download Center, http://www.microsoft.com/downloads.
Most Windows content on the Download Center will be included in the pilot program.
To access genuine Windows content, Download Center users with Norwegian, Czech and Simplified Chinese language versions of Windows will be required to participate in the pilot program.
New software incentives, valued at more than $450 (U.S.), will be added for users of genuine Windows software who take part in the program, including these:
Microsoft Photo Story 3 for Windows
Winter Fun Pack 2004
Fifty percent off a selection of MSN Games by Zone.com
Six-month trial of Microsoft Office OneNote 2003
Fifty percent off hosted Windows SharePoint Services
Fifty percent off Microsoft List Builder service
Thirty percent off the new Microsoft Office Outlook Live service
In addition to the increased rewards for users of genuine Windows software, Microsoft will begin piloting a legalization offer in the People's Republic of China, Norway and the Czech Republic for qualified participants who discover that they have been sold a counterfeit version of Windows XP. These customers will be offered a genuine version of Windows at a reduced price. All participants with counterfeit versions of Windows will continue to receive guidance on how to recognize genuine copies of Windows, how to seek redress from the seller, and how to protect their PC.
"Software piracy is an enormous problem for honest system builders and resellers because it creates an unfair price advantage for distributors who sell their counterfeit products at artificially low prices," said David Stinner, president of US itek inc. "The Windows Genuine Advantage Program will help us because it levels the playing field for honest channel partners, and because its added-value software offerings differentiate the genuine product we sell from the counterfeit products we compete with."
In the second half of 2005, visitors to the Microsoft Download Center (http://www.microsoft.com/downloads) and Windows Update (http://v5.windowsupdate.microsoft.com/v5consumer) will be required to participate in Windows Genuine Advantage to access all content. To help customers who may require more time to move to genuine Windows software, Microsoft is offering security updates through Automatic Updates in Windows, with or without Windows Genuine Advantage validation.
To further combat software piracy, Microsoft is working with partners to change how some Certificates of Authenticity (COAs) are matched during activation, because a significant number of COAs are stolen each year from reputable computer makers and resold as new. This change will help protect consumers from being victimized by pirates and give them confidence that they are receiving what they paid for. It also will help Microsoft's partners protect their investments in Windows.