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Microsoft Strengths Windows Piracy Efforts
Will Require Verification To Download Add-Ons

Microsoft is set to unveil a new security feature that will require users to validate their copies of Windows before downloading add-ons. By requiring authentication of their copy of Windows, Microsoft prevents those with pirated versions from receiving important security updates and other releases. The first add-on to be affected will be the Vietnamese language interface pack.

 

Microsoft has been testing what it calls Windows Genuine Advantage on its Download Center Web site since September. Over 5 million users have taken part in the test, according to Microsoft. At an unspecified date in mid-2005 Microsoft will require all Windows XP and Windows 2000 users to validate their copy of Windows.

 

Some user groups are concerned that by validating Windows, Microsoft will be tracking individual users. Microsoft says that the process is anonymous. It includes an ActiveX control on the client side and the Windows Product Activation service on the Microsoft side. A user has to install the ActiveX control and enter the Windows product key, which is typically found on a sticker affixed to the PC.

 

Piracy of Windows is so common in certain Asian markets, particularly China, that Microsoft has even closed down offices which otherwise would have been working with vendors running pirated versions of its core operating system. In the US alone, 25% of Windows users are though to be running pirated versions.

 

The new validation policy will not report users who fail to authenticate their copiers of Windows, nor will it deactivate users' operating systems. Microsoft will however offer users who fail to pass this new security checkpoint the opportunity to buy a copy of Windows at a reduced rate.

 

About Security News Desk
SYS-CON's Security News desk trawls the world of security for news of software, hardware, products, and services that seems likely to be of interest to infosec professionals and summarizes them for easy assimilation by busy IT managers and staff.

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