Chinese users will receive the latest update to Windows 7 activation technology months later than users elsewhere, as Microsoft tries a softer approach to fighting software piracy in China.
Users worldwide will automatically start receiving the update later this month, but the process will not start in China until this summer, Microsoft said in a statement on Friday.
Foreign companies have long complained about poor protection of intellectual property rights in China, but the problem lies as much with Chinese users themselves as with lax government regulation. Microsoft caused a backlash among Chinese users in late 2008 when it released an automatic update that turned the computer screen black for pirated versions of Windows XP.
The update for Windows 7, Microsoft's latest hit at software pirates always trying to work around authentication measures, looks for known hacks used to activate unlicensed copies of the operating system. Users with the hacks will have their desktop wallpaper turned black and be shown reminder messages, though the OS will still function.
Microsoft is launching a series of marketing campaigns in China to explain the risks of counterfeit software and how users can tell if their Microsoft software is genuine, it said. Microsoft has long worked to promote genuine software in China.
Nearly one in three pirated copies of Windows 7 were found to have malicious code in a recent analysis by Media Surveillance, an anti-piracy services company, Microsoft said.
Pirated copies of Windows 7 are widely available online and were being sold in at least one electronics bazaar in Beijing weeks before the OS was released late last year.