Microsoft gets tough on Office fakers

Microsoft gets tough on Office fakers

Summary: Microsoft's voluntary scheme for Office licensing checks is about to become mandatory


After first introducing a voluntary way for users to ensure that they only used licensed and legal copies of Microsoft Office products, the software giant announced on Monday that it is about to make scheme mandatory.

The move means that users who are caught using software that can't be proved to be 100 percent legal won't get access to add-ons and updates from Microsoft.

As of Friday, Office Online templates downloaded from within Microsoft Office System 2007 applications have to be validated. As of January 2007, Office Update also must be validated by Office Genuine Advantage (OGA). The OGA scheme was introduced in April as a pilot.

Users who are denied access to the applications because their versions of Office do not pass a validation test will need to prove that their software is valid before they can proceed.

Microsoft says it will "continue to provide a complimentary copy of Microsoft Office to help qualifying customers who unknowingly acquired counterfeit versions of Microsoft Office 2003". But users will need to "fill out a counterfeit report, provide proof of purchase, and send in their counterfeit CDs" to prove their entitlement to a free replacement copy of Office.

Customers who have "unknowingly acquired" a counterfeit version of Office and can't provide these details will have to pay a licence fee. This would be $359 (£191) for the Office Genuine Advantage kit for Microsoft Office Professional Edition 2003, while the Microsoft Office Small Business Edition 2003 costs $269 and the Microsoft Office Student and Teacher Edition 2003 costs $139.

Tony Lock of analysts Sageza said that the licensing changes were not unexpected. He believes it makes sense for Microsoft to bring its licensing strategies for Office and Windows in line. "But I think most of the problems comes from Windows and not Office," he said.

Lock does not believe that this is part of a strategy to bring Windows XP and Office licensing in line before the launch of Vista. "Vista is a whole different set of issues," he said. "Microsoft has a lot of potential problems to face compared to this."

Microsoft had not responded to requests for comment at the time of writing.

Earlier this month, Microsoft was forced to own up to problems with Windows Genuine Advantage when some validated Microsoft customers were denied access to their applications because of a software problem.

Topic: Operating Systems


Colin Barker is based in London and is Senior Reporter for ZDNet. He has been writing about the IT business for some 30-plus years. He still enjoys it.

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  • OpenOffice is so much more user aware. Might have something to do with not being interested in your wallet.
  • Here we go again

    After jumping through hoops when I had to comply with the requirement of Microsoft to prove my windows was legitimate, after changeing Windows Genuine Advantage I had to do it again, and again. Yes Microsoft agree my copy is OK, just that I have to keep proving it. Am I now to have to do this again and again and again for office. In the UK I thought I was innocent untill proven guilty, why do I have to keep proveing my innocence. I dont support pirates, but there is a limit.
  • To be honest

    My windows XP copy was a pirate copy, I have never owned a legal copy of Windows XP. They have all been fully working Corporate Key versions of both Windows XP and Office XP.

    When i started working where i am now we had access to the Microsoft Action pack which gives you every piece of MS software ever released for free. That is the way to licence yourself.