Microsoft's not-so-generous Windows deal

Microsoft's not-so-generous Windows deal

Summary: You've been burned by a crook who sold you a counterfeit copy of Windows. Microsoft says they want to help you out. But a closer look shows the deal isn't all that generous.

TOPICS: Windows

Have you been burned by a phony copy of Windows XP? Microsoft is pitching its Genuine Windows offer as a way to recover without paying extra. But the offer isn’t as good as it sounds. The deal is actually a twofer, with the details being different depending on your situation. Here’s how Microsoft pitches it:

  • Complimentary offer: Microsoft will make a complimentary copy of Windows XP available to customers who have been sold counterfeit Windows. Customers will be required to submit a proof of purchase, the counterfeit CD, and a counterfeit report with details of their purchase. Only high-quality counterfeit Windows will qualify for the complimentary offer.
  • Electronic License Key Offer: Microsoft will offer an alternative for customers who find out via the WGA validation process that they are not running genuine Windows, but do not qualify for, or choose not to take advantage of, the complimentary offer. These customers will be able to license a Windows Genuine Advantage Kit for Windows XP online for a price of $99 for Windows XP Home edition or $149 for Windows XP Professional. The Windows Genuine Advantage Kit for Windows XP will include a new 25-character Product Key and a Windows Product Key Update tool that will allow customers to convert their counterfeit copy to genuine Windows XP electronically.

The first offer is designed to take care of people who buy fake products from fly-by-night retailers or from auction sites. While the offer of free software sounds generous, Microsoft’s own stats show that this type of transaction represents a small fraction – significantly less than 20% – of “non-genuine” software as identified by the WGA validation tool. And you have to be willing to turn in whoever sold you the phony software, too:

A counterfeit disc is required in order to be eligible for the complimentary offer. This allows customers to show that a counterfeit transaction occurred. Customers who did not receive a counterfeit disk, but are willing to submit a counterfeit report regarding a fraudulent transaction, are able to qualify for the electronic license key offer. … The information that is required on the report is:

  • Was the copy of Windows preinstalled?
  • Where was it purchased (Web, street vendor, store, etc)?
  • What was the reseller’s name?
  • Did you receive a CD and a Certificate of Authenticity (COA)?
  • How much did you pay?
  • What was the date of purchase?

If you were burned by a PC dealer or a repair shop that installed a fake copy of Windows using a stolen or pirated volume license key – and that category accounts for roughly 80% of the WGA failures, according to Microsoft – you’ll have to pay up. But don’t think that Microsoft is giving you a substantial discount. That $99 price tag for XP Home Edition is $11 more than the current OEM price for the same package from, and the $149 sticker price for XP Professional is the same as charges for the package. For that matter, you could get an OEM copy of Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 for $110. And in none of those cases would you need to file any paperwork.

Technically, OEM software is for system builders only, a category that includes hobbyists who build their own PCs. But given that you own a PC that came without a legitimate operating system, I’d argue that you should qualify for the OEM pricing. And Microsoft shouldn’t make you jump through hoops to pay it.

Topic: Windows

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  • Screw Microsoft.

    There. I said it.
    • I agree...

      Who the hell do Microsoft think they are kidding here?
      A high percentage of the phoney Windows XP market seems to be in China, and IMHO it is highly unlikely that this "deal" will be even presented to that market.

      Not one of MS's better ideas...
  • Nothing new-they're not doing anybody any favors

    And while I don't mean to imply that they should, the thing that enters my mind on that complimentary deal is that they want the disc and, all the details of who you bought it from and all that so that they can turn around and cook you for buying stolen goods and the seller for selling illegal software. Scru that, that's nothing but a bloody trap; but then MS windows IS a trap. And of course the other option makes as much sense as buying ANOTHER "legit" distro of windows, and why? So you can be right back where you started. Freakin' runnin in circles. You can't make any bloody progress when ya spend all your time wrestling with MS over whether or not your sh*t is good. Who has time for that? Not me. It's bad enough ya gotta endure locking your system down like your gaurding it religiously to keep all the bloody adware and MALWARE off of it, and then the OS creators start j*rkin off in the back of the room god that is so annoying. It's insane, boggles me that anybody still uses it.
  • It's only an XP clearance tatic.

    There's a warehouse full of XP CDs taking valuable room awat from thier Vi$ta CDs. This is just a way to clear that warehouse out and try to profit from it.
    Mr. Roboto
  • Thanks for clearing up the OEM issue

    Thanks for that link to the OEM story Ed. Comes in handy the next time someone whines about retail pricing of Windows XP. Now I've seen WinXP Pro OEM edition for as low as $90. Now I'm not sure if that is legit or not though but it is offered in multiple places on pricewatch. Being able to buy OEM versions is a good thing for anyone that builds their own PC.
    • Great idea, if you're a compulsive gambler...

      Go ahead and grab an OEM version, or grab 10 or 20 for that matter...increases the odds MS will accept one of them as legit.

      That's what I did at first...picked up an oem, FIRST INSTALL told me it wasn't any good...called 'em up....nope it's no good we're not going to issue you a new pid code....lost 40 bucks on that deal.

      Thanks a lot DELL ya owe me 40 bucks.
      • $40?

        Are you saying that Dell sold you an OEM copy of Windows XP, sans hardware, for $40? I find that hard to believe.

        I think you need to take Ed's advice about buying only from reputable dealers.
    • I would never buy an OEM version unless...

      It was from a vendor I knew and absolutely trusted. is certainly in that category, as are a whole bunch of others. I absolutely would NOT buy an OEM version from some vendor I discovered for the first time via a price-tracking service, or from an auction, or via an ad. Too much of a chance that I'll get phony product.

      I have about 20 vendors on my trusted list and know that I can pretty much get the best price from one of them at any given time.
      Ed Bott
    • If I remember correctly

      you cannot install an OEM copy on your already existing Windows. So if you have an illegal copy buying an OEM copy may require you reformat your disk.

      Actually if you think about it "Microsoft's not-so-generous Windows deal" doesn't sound like such a bad deal after all. It's cheaper to have an illegal copy and then get a $149 key than it is to get a copy of the retail WinXP Pro.
      Michael Kelly
  • People need to start paying for software they own

    This mentality that you dont have to pay for software you run needs to change. Microsoft has entitlement to every assit it has generated. Microsoft Windows is number one for two reasons... It is esential to every computer process out there and it is easy to use. The only liability Microsoft has to this fact is they have created a great easy product. If you dont like it, dont use computers. If you bought some cheap software from an unkown/less repitiabile company, it your own fault.
    • RE: People need to start paying for software they own

      >>If you dont like it, dont use computers...<<

      It appears to me that there ARE other options.
      Some of them are pretty darn good, too!
    • Whoa

      "esential [sic] to every computer process out there"

      I run a whole lot of "computer processes" and Microsoft is not essential to any of them.
  • More B.S. .......More Stink

    Anybody dumb enough (including me AND YOU) to agree to Microsoft's EULA had better be prepared to bleed a long long time because they're cutting their own throat.
    Microsoft is not protecting their intellectual property. They are extorting money by extraordinary deceptive means. They figure if you are dumb enough to fall for the hype to begin with, why not take it one step further, and further, and further?
    I was dumb enough to fall for it a few years back, but have wizened up a little since then. Microsoft has caused me more problems than all the virii, trojans, spam, spyware, malware, or any other evil. Now they have started the WGA crap, and that's the last straw, the straw that broke the camel's back. I am slowly preparing to rid myself of Microsoft. I have never pirated (STOLEN) anything from them and I don't intend to keep proving to them that I haven't, even if all their crap-ware worked flawlessly and didn't cause any problems. So much more since it does cause problems.
    Microsoft is the crooks, not the purchaser of their software. They should not be allowed to sell anything in a retail outlet that they insist does not belong to the purchaser. They should be required to establish rental outlets for any software they have and be required to post on all outlets and products that it is RENTAL.
    It seems that Americans have generally accepted the corporate mentality that if they rip off their customers, it's not illegal, or even unethical. It's just "GOOD BUSINESS". Especially if it's "for their stockholders". That makes them the "really good guys" then.
    Ole Man
  • How I turned my WinXP into a "copy"!!

    The other day I wanted to "clean up" my PC a bit. I've had it for over3 years, never any problem with WGA "certification".. Well I scrolled to Temporary" folder and deleted everything. The system didnt let me delete a bunch of Java stuff - but everything else went. Well being a bit on the stupid side (I guess) I highlighted the stuff Windows wouldnt delete first try and tried ago. Bingo - it all went. I rebooted and was notified IMMEDIATELY that my system was NOT a legit copy of Win XP!! I find this interesting since I did NOT attempt any downloads or anything. Microsoft has "something" on my PC(!) thats must check me every time I boot! (Sounds like a form of spyware)! Well - interestingly I restored to the previous day - and everything was now OK!!

    I wont bother to go into the emails I've exchanged with MS relative to this problem but I'm not going to (willingly) download something from them to "analyze" my system. I suppose that in some agrement I agreed to sign away my PC ownership for the joy of using MS- but I wont really, knowlingly. download their "diagnostic software". They kind of lost me when they declared my liscense bogus when I just simply rebooted!
    • You don't own the software on you pc!

      Don't you know that when you "buy" M$ software you only buy the use of the software. According to the EULA you acknowledge that the software belongs to them, as such they can put anything on it they want; so its not spyware. As long as you use M$ that is the way it is.<br><a href="">HOIATL</a></br>
      • EULA

        I do not think agreeing to a EULA which covers a large and diverse load og gobbledegoop holds me to allowing Microsoft to put ,what is in essence, Spyware onto a machine I own.
        We agree that he OS is indeed the property of MS and I do not see a problem with that but fair use(which you might or might not agree with) would most certainly negate any supposed exeptance by means of a EULA of undisclosed and or software that was deemed spyware.
        Ther are a couple of court cases on the go and we will see what the courts have to say.
        Of course this process will take at least 2 years as Microsot will always use the delaying game and of course by then the new OS will be out.
        The biggest problem with these EULa,s is the insistanse that the terms by which you originally bought the use of the OS can be changed at the whim of a company.
        Sometime it will have to go through the courts to clarify wether or not these companies should have The right to keep changing the rules one had origionally agreed to when purchasing the software.
        This is even more important for people who buy premounted software ie, Windows that never see the EULA as they do not load the software on the machine in the first place .
        Ther has got to be an assumption that the supplier of software knows full well that people are not reading these things and as the percentage of these people is way above those that do, that the supplier has a responsibility
        not to take advantage of a customers in this way.

        So what I am sayingis that I do not agree with all you say.
    • Very, Very Informative


      Thanks for your post. I found it very informative.

      I've been hearing other nightmare-ish tales regarding WGA that sound very similar to your story. I've been hesitating until now, but I guess my next computer is going to have to have Linux installed.

      Keeping our systems running smoothly and safely is already a bigger chore than it should be, in my opinion. While some of us enjoy the daily tweaking and tinkering when Windows "burps," I think the vast majority of users prefer to just jump in, turn the key, step on the gas and go.

      Can you imagine if Microsoft (or any other OS author) owned the rights to the software used in your car's engine computer? You'd get in your car, turn the key, but a ROM problem, perhaps, might not permit the software to verify its authenticity ... and a message is displayed: "Sorry. Your on-board software could not be validated. Until you contact customer support, your vehicle's transmission will operate in first gear and reverse ONLY."

      In other words, my PC is a mere tool to me ... not my life; I don't want to spend all day "messing" with it. If they get any harder to run, people will soon consider alternatives.

      If Microsoft is listening, I'd like to say, "If you want all six billion of us to need and love your software, please make it simpler for us to use."

  • Just install Linux

    Why not just install a free version of Linux. I've been using Fedora for about a year now and it can do anything that XP can. The only difference is that I don't have Microsoft breathing down my neck.