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Microsoft Pardons Users of Pirated Windows

Defrauded customers may be eligible for free Windows XP Pro, but with some strings attached.

Microsoft is offering users a chance to redeem themselves for having purchased—unwittingly—computers or software containing counterfeit versions of the Windows XP operating system. All customers have to do is turn in the alleged perpetrators.

This latest pilot offer is part of Microsoft’s Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) program to curb the damage that global software piracy is costing the company. Counterfeit software rakes in an estimated $29 billion per year, with 21 percent of PCs in the United States running non-legitimate copies of Windows, according to a study released last year by International Data Corp.

“Microsoft created this pilot to help customers become genuine and avoid the dangers of counterfeit software. The offer is also designed to protect our partners from competitors who engage in counterfeiting, and to facilitate our ongoing work with authorities to enforce anti-piracy policies and laws,” the company said, in a statement.

According to Microsoft, of the 48 million visitors who have viewed an opt-in page for the product authentication program, 27 million, or 56 percent, have chosen to participate, since the pilot program began in September 2004.

To receive a complimentary copy of Windows XP Professional, customers must send to Microsoft the pirated Windows software, a proof of purchase and a counterfeit report. The online report asks whether the bogus Windows was preinstalled and/or come on a CD and if it came with a certificate of authenticity. Other questions pertain to the purchase method (online, in-store, street vendor) and the reseller’s name.

Customers who do not have the counterfeit software on CD and a proof of purchase can buy Windows XP Professional directly from Microsoft at the reduced price of $149. Some users may be eligible to receive a license key online if the customer’s installed version of Windows is found to be complete and not corrupted or tampered with, which is determined by an electronic scan via Microsoft’s Download Center or Windows Update.

Microsoft Windows XP Professional retails for $299.

The offer will run until July 30. For more information on the WGA program, go here.

About the Author

Dan Hong is the associate Web editor of MCPmag.com, CertCities.com, TCPmag.com, Redmondmag.com and RCPmag.com.

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