Microsoft renews hunt for counterfeit Windows XP

Microsoft is updating Windows XP's anti-piracy technology to detect illegal copies, in a move which tacitly acknowledges the continued popularity of XP over Vista.


Microsoft is updating Windows XP’s anti-piracy technology to detect illegal copies installed with newly-stolen or faked product keys, or with new activation cracks, in a move which tacitly acknowledges the continued popularity of XP over Vista.

In an entry to a company blog, Alex Kochis, senior product manager for Microsoft's Windows Genuine Advantage programme, spelled out the update to WGA Notifications. That's the antipiracy component that provides the messages and other on-screen prompts when the other half of WGA, dubbed Validations, detects an illegal copy of the operating system.

"This update includes the latest validation information, including recently stolen or misused product keys and other information," said Kochis, who elsewhere in the blog noted that the "other" category included "attempts to circumvent product activation." Such circumvention methods, called "cracks", are popular downloads on file-sharing sites that also feature pirated software.

The update applies only to Windows XP Professional, added Kochis.

Although Microsoft tried to put a stop to Windows XP sales last year - and will be shifting it into a more limited support plan next month - it has relaxed its rules several times since then as customers have continued to demand new PCs with XP rather than Vista. Windows XP Professional is the only version that Microsoft allows users and computer sellers to "downgrade" from Vista.

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