Microsoft is stepping up its war on software pirates by rolling out new Windows Genuine notification software for what it is calling its most pirated version of Windows: Windows XP Professional.
In an August 26 posting to the Windows Genuine Advantage blog, Director of Genuine Windows Alex Kochis said XP users should expect Microsoft to begin rolling out a new version of Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) notifications starting this week. Microsoft is expecting the rollout to take several months.
The new WGA notifications, which Microsoft will deliver via Windows Update (and which already is available for download by individuals from the Microsoft Download Center), will behave like the WGA notifications introduced with Windows Vista Service Pack (SP) 1 back in December 2007. Specifically, users whose XP copies are deemed "non-Genuine" will see their screen backgrounds default to black and notice a translucent notice, warning them that their Windows might be counterfeit.
(Update: Microsoft officials noted that WGA for XP never did default to "reduced functionality mode," a k a, the kill switch, which was part of Windows Vista when it first shipped.
"Windows XP did not contain the reduced functionality mode commonly referred to as the 'kill switch,' and it still doesn't," a spokeswoman said. "The update simply reconfigures the notifications experience to mirror notifications in Windows Vista SP1.")
The new WGA XP notification update is going to make it easier for Microsoft to detect stolen or pirated software, as well as fake product keys, Microsoft officials said. It will add new hindrances for users trying to circumvent product activation, as well, according to the new blog post.
The new release is aimed specifically at XP Professional users. From Kochis' post:
"Another thing we're doing with this release is focusing on the product edition that is most often stolen. This will reduce the number of customers that will be offered the package. This release will be offered to the most pirated edition of Windows XP and therefore to users with the highest likelihood of having a non-genuine copy, those using Windows XP Pro. We're also offering it to those using editions based on Pro code such as Tablet and Windows Media Center, but plan to narrow the offering to Pro in future releases."
XP users who previously have not opted in to WGA notifications will be asked to accept an End User License Agreement (EULA), rather than an installation wizard. Users who agree to the EULA are agreeing to allow the anti-piracy validation control to auto-update itself with fewer releases.
"Microsoft is making these changes to simplify the installation process (making it easy for customers to stay up-to-date), to increase the effectiveness of these notifications, and to align experiences across Windows XP and Windows Vista," according to a statement provided by a company spokeswoman.
Microsoft received kudos from many users when it replaced the Vista non-Genuine "kill switch" with mere nagware. I wonder if XP Pro users will
feel the same have any feelings, one way or the other, about the new notification scheme coming their way....