RealTime IT News

Only The 'Genuine' Get Windows Support

If you're using a non-genuine Microsoft product, you won't be able to get non-security updates starting today.

Microsoft Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) 1.0 officially launched worldwide today to prevent users running pirated non-licensed versions of Microsoft's software from accessing updates. Prior to today, the program was optional.

Microsoft claims that during the 10-month pilot of the WGA, more than 40 million users opted into the program, which it extended in January to include 25 languages.

As of today, Genuine Windows validation is required for all users of Windows Update, Microsoft Update for Windows content and the Download Center. Non-genuine-validated users will not however be blocked from security updates, which Microsoft has pledged will remain available to all users.

Version 1.0 of WGA differs from its pilot predecessor in that Microsoft no longer requires users to validate the software with their own 25-digit product key.

Instead, they are prompted on their first visit to one of Microsoft's update services to validate their software via an ActiveX control, which, if successful, stores a download key for future PC verification. Microsoft claims that the validation process does not collect any personally identifiable information about the user.

Users running an "unknowingly acquired," non-genuine version of Microsoft's Windows XP have an opportunity to swap it with genuine versions. If they can provide Microsoft with a proof of purchase, counterfeit CD and a completed piracy report, they are eligible to receive a genuine copy of XP for free.

For those who are only able to fill out the piracy report, Microsoft will offer them XP Home for $99 and XP Professional for $149.

Beyond being able to receive non-security Microsoft updates, verified genuine users also get up to $450 in additional value-added software offerings.

"It also became clear that customers want to take advantage of special offers reserved for genuine users, with the peace of mind that their software will deliver the features, options and performance they need." said Will Poole, senior vice president of the Windows client business at Microsoft, in a statement.