Microsoft: SP2 Will Not Install on Pirated Copies of XP

Contrary to the remarks it made to the ComputerTimes, Microsoft now claims that it will not permit users who have obtained Windows XP illegally to upgrade to its latest service release. Instead, the software giant will continue to enforce compliance with its licensing.

In a nutshell, Microsoft group product manager Barry Goffe told ComputerTimes that Windows XP Service Pack 2 would not exclude pirated copies from upgrading, and that it was more important to keep user safe than to be "concerned about the revenue issue."

To clarify its position, a Microsoft spokesperson told BetaNews, "Press reports indicating Windows XP Service Pack 2 will install on pirated or illegal copies of Windows XP are not entirely true.  Prior to installing, SP2 will check the OS' product ID (PID) against a list of known pirated PIDs.  If a PID is found to be invalid, SP2 will not install."

BetaNews confirmed the accuracy of the spokesperson's statement with a source within the company.

"Microsoft's position with SP2 is no different than SP1, so no one should really be surprised that the update might not install on pirated Windows XP versions. Enabling the update for known leaked activation keys could foster more piracy, something Microsoft would want to prevent," said senior Jupiter Research senior analyst Joe Wilcox.

Wilcox noted however, that "it is not clear how many of the Windows XP PCs infected with worms or trojan horses -- software used to spread spam, hide spammers or launch denial of service attacks -- run pirated software. Withholding the update, even for good reason, could contribute to ongoing security problems affecting legitimate Microsoft customers."

Service Pack 2 has fortified Windows XP with a new mix of security features including: a new version of Internet Explorer, which for the first time includes a pop-up blocker and download manager; improved memory protection; e-mail safeguards for Outlook Express; the Windows Firewall; and new security settings for Windows Media Player 9.

Windows networking will see reduced privileges assigned to system services such as Remote Procedure Call (RPC), and Microsoft has redesigned its Distributed Component Object Model (DCOM) by adding granular COM permissions.

Control over these new security features will be governed by the new Windows Security Center. Security Center checks for the third-party antivirus protection, manages automatic system updates and exerts control over the Windows Firewall.

A second release candidate of the service pack is slated for late May or early June, with RC3 also a possibility. The final release of Windows XP Service Pack 2 is expected to be completed by the end of the summer.

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