Microsoft takes Advantage

Microsoft has taken its Windows Genuine Advantage programme out of beta and launched it as version 1.0. The programme, which ‘offers’ updates and other free software to those customers who register their operating system is now rolled out worldwide.

Genuine Advantage is the latest stage in Microsoft’s anti-piracy strategy. In return for allowing Microsoft to authenticate their copies of Windows, customers are allowed access to software worth, according to Microsoft, around $450. During the pilot phase, Microsoft says that 40 million users signed up have had their copy of Windows authenticated before they could get at the upgrades they wanted.

However, while in the initial phases the software on offer via Windows Update came under the category of nice-to-have, Microsoft is likely to be turning the screw on future updates to more critical software, although it says its position is that all copies of Windows will have access to security updates via the Download Centre or Automatic Updates.

Microsoft now says that the one-time WGA validation will be required for everyone using Windows Update, Microsoft Update for Windows content, and the Download Centre.

The company has also streamlined the somewhat tedious process where previously customers had to dig out their CD and enter their 25-digit product key to validate their software. Now the validation process automatically checks the PC to decide whether it is running a genuine copy Windows.

However, Microsoft is providing an upgrade programme for people who use counterfeit Windows if they turn themselves in. The company says that ‘Qualifying’ customers who fill in piracy report detailing where they got their fake copy of Windows may get a genuine copy of Windows XP Home Edition for $99 or Windows XP Professional for $149.

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