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Microsoft has stretched its twitching anti-piracy tentacles more widely across the globe with the expansion of its Office Genuine Advantage Notifications program into 13 more countries.

The software giant confirmed yesterday that 41 countries could now enroll in Redmond’s voluntary program that offers end users “enhanced protection” against the “risks” of using counterfeit copies of Office.

Microsoft once again pointed in the direction of its software's oldest enemies - viruses and malfunctioning code - both of which it claimed dog dodgy copies of its Office suite. Of course, piracy puts a dent in Redmond’s pockets too.

Additionally, the vendor announced yesterday that Microsoft’s upcoming Office 2010 suite, due out in the first half of next year, will come loaded with new tools to help the company better control how volume-licensing keys are activated and used.

It said the tools had been built on Microsoft’s Software Protection Platform (SPP), which MS claimed would “make it harder for counterfeiters to defraud consumers by selling inferior, bogus copies of Office”.

Essentially SPP is the bastard child of the firm's much-derided Windows Genuine Advantage tool. It was first debuted in the company's unloved OS Vista back in 2006.

Microsoft said the product would be harder to pirate due to technical features built into the Office 2010 software.

It also wheeled out figures compiled from a recent study by the Business Software Alliance and research outfit IDC.

“In addition to hurting developers such as Microsoft, piracy harms software resellers and computer users throughout the world,” said MS anti-piracy wonk Keith Beeman.

“In 2008, 41 percent of software on the world’s PCs was obtained illegally or used without a license… That equates to more than $50bn in losses for the global software ecosystem.” ®

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