January 25, 2005 (HOSTSEARCH.COM) In 2005, Microsoft Corp. plans to crack down on pirate software by checking the authenticity of user software under their Windows ? Genuine Advantage program and provide access to other popular software and other benefits for users with genuine software. By offering free software, valued at $450, for legitimate users they hope to keep users, especially in Asia and Eastern Europe, from buying software like Windows operating systems and the popular Office Suite from pirate retailers. While even Beta versions of Windows Longhorn are available for as little as $2.50 the pirated versions are not without risk.
"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."
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.
5 million people are 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(R) 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(R) Games by Zone.com
- Six-month trial of Microsoft Office OneNote(R) 2003
- Fifty percent off hosted Windows SharePoint(R) Services
- Fifty percent off Microsoft List Builder service
- Thirty percent off the new Microsoft Office Outlook(R) 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."