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MS beefs up WinXP Pro's anti-piracy nagware

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Microsoft wants to rein in more Windows XP pirates over the coming weeks, by pushing out a new version of its “nagware” which detects when a machine is running a fake copy of the OS.

The company’s Genuine Windows director Alex Kochis said yesterday that Redmond will release the latest version of its Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) notifications program for XP through Windows Update starting this week.

Microsoft has built in changes to the nagware similar to those already found in its notifications software for Vista service pack one.

Customers whose machines are found to be running dodgy copies of XP will see their desktop backgrounds change to a “plain black background”. A user can change their screen settings as desired, but the nagware will, er, paint it black every 60 minutes.

nagware

A static message will also hang around on the desktop, pestering the user that their copy of XP appears to be a knock-off version of the operating system.

Microsoft has previously claimed that XP is more pirated than any other operating system. It reckons that the counterfeit rate for Vista is less than half that of XP, it would be below us to suggest that even the pirates have a hard time selling Vista.

But these findings are based on somewhat wonky internal metrics, like WGA validation failures, which have been known to falsely flag up legitimate installs as invalid, making the metrics far from robust.

Kochis said XP Pro topped the piracy list as the number one most-targeted Windows OS, so the firm is aiming the nagware at users of that edition.

“I'm excited about how this release balances our goals of providing a great experience to those who have genuine Windows and at the same time creating a compelling experience for those who have non-genuine copies to get genuine Windows,” he said. ®

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