As a recent addition to Microsoft’s fight against software piracy, the company just released a new version of their WGA update. This new version is designed to thoroughly check the software version and activation keys of Windows XP Pro for counterfeit or stolen product keys. Since XP Pro is the Windows version that’s a favorite with software counterfeiters, this new release will specifically check those XP versions for instances of piracy. It will also examine the latest cracks and bypass codes that software counterfeiters use in circumventing Microsoft’s current activation process.
The process of fighting piracy
The process is really quite simple. It is done automatically for systems that have automatic updates enabled, and for those who want to check the status of their XP version manually, one can go directly to Microsoft’s WGA site. Also, WGA updates are required before one can download Windows plug-ins, components, and updates from their site. For example, if you want to get the latest Direct X version from Microsoft, running the WGA notification process is a requirement.
About privacy, Microsoft does not get sensitive or personal information from the PCs. What the WGA process will look at are the hardware information from the computer, such as the computer make and model, BIOS version, Windows version, product ID, and volume serial number, just to name some.
What happens when pirated software is detected
Microsoft claims that once an instance of counterfeiting is detected, it will not affect functionality. What will happen is that the desktop will turn black, and one would be constantly annoyed by reminders from the system tray and task bar that your version of Windows is not genuine, and will present information to users on how to address the issue.
According to Microsoft, most of the owners of counterfeit copies of XP are not aware that their version of XP is fake. Some possibilities include buying counterfeited software unknowingly, being sold by unscrupulous computer and software retailers a fake copy, and the installation of a fake copy by computer repair centers. Microsoft recommends that victims report these cases, and once determined that the customer is not at fault, Microsoft will provide a genuine copy of Windows to the customer.
Here, Microsoft is after the software counterfeiting syndicates rather than individual users. As the users are usually victims themselves, Microsoft is after the big fish rather than small fry. Additionally, the company is using the WGA process to gain more information about counterfeiters to help them in prosecuting these syndicates.