MS snubs UK on Windows XP discounts

Microsoft will let users upgrade several machines to the new OS for a reduced price - but not in the UK, for now

Microsoft is to offer a discount of roughly £10 for home users and small businesses who want to install its upcoming Windows XP operating system on several PCs, but the UK will miss out on this offer for the time being.

The discount is an attempt to compensate for a new security feature in Windows XP, Microsoft Product Activation, which will for the first time prevent home users from installing Windows on several home PCs. MPA will also require reactivation if hardware is significantly upgraded or if the hard drive is reformatted and the operating system is reinstalled, requiring users to obtain a code from Microsoft.

Many users previously bought a single copy of a new Windows OS and used it to upgrade several machines, usually because they were not aware of licensing restrictions on multiple installations.

Windows product marketing manager Neil Laver said Microsoft will be offering a discount to users who want to upgrade several home machines. He said that US retailers will be able to offer discounted copies of Windows XP in a different packaging, such as a smaller box, that could be sold to users who buy a full-priced upgrade.

However, the scheme will not be available in the UK right away, though it could be introduced at some point in the future.

Users who want to run Windows XP on a number of machines also have the option of buying the OS with a multiple-PC license, Microsoft said.

MPA is a key part of Microsoft's crackdown on piracy, much of which is unintentional. Microsoft would not put a figure on how much it loses from unintentional piracy, but said that while 85 percent of UK small businesses run Microsoft software, only 15 percent pay for it.

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