This time around, Microsoft is making the software available free of charge, but it is requiring customers to take part in the Windows Genuine Advantage pilot program. In the program, people use an online tool to check whether their PCs are using a properly licensed copy of the operating system.
"The problem is that there are a large percentage of users that are using nongenuine software," said David Lazar, a director in the Windows Client unit at Microsoft. "A good percentage of those think they are using genuine Windows and are being cheated."
The Windows Genuine Advantage program was launched last month. At that point, there was no added benefit for those who had genuine software, nor was there a penalty if the software was bogus.