22% of Windows Installs Non-Genuine

Microsoft disclosed Monday that over one in five Windows installations were deemed non-genuine through the company's Windows Genuine Advantage program, which requires users to validate their operating system before downloading updates from the company.

Since WGA launched in July 2005, over 512 million users have attempted to validate their copy of Windows, Microsoft said. Of those, the non-genuine rate was 22.3 percent. 56,000 reports have been made by customers of counterfeit software, which grants that user a free replacement copy of Windows.

While high, that number is less than the average software piracy rate around the world, according to the Business Software Alliance. The BSA reports that 35 percent of the world's software is pirated (22 percent in North America specifically), and a Yankee Group study noted that 55 percent of organizations report instances of counterfeit or pirated software.

As it prepares to launch both Windows Vista and Office 2007 to the public next week, Microsoft has kicked off what it calls the "Genuine Fact Files" campaign for educating consumers on the downfall and risks associated with non-genuine software. It hopes to discourage users from downloading illicit software in the process.

Acknowledging that potential customers may be tempted to "try the new products first before they make the decision to buy" through the use of pirated software, Microsoft has posted an online "test drive" of Windows Vista, which joins an existing Web-based preview of Office 2007.

The Vista test drive, which requires Internet Explorer 6 or 7 and runs the operating system in a small Active X based virtual machine, lets visitors explore various new features of the forthcoming operating system, and guides them through common tasks. Meanwhile, a 60-day trial download of Office 2007 is also available.

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