Microsoft Expands WGA Piracy Checks

Microsoft said Monday it was expanding a pilot of the Windows Genuine Advantage program that would notify users of counterfeit versions of the operating system. The company will still continue to delivery high priority software updates to these users regardless of their WGA status.

Piracy remains a growing problem in the software industry, with as much as 35 percent of all software pirated, according to the Business Software Alliance. Research firm IDC has said that if the piracy rate dropped to 25 percent, as many as 2.4 million new jobs and $400 billion in economic growth would be created worldwide.

While most users wouldn't notice any charge as a result of WGA's expansion, those running non-genuine copies of Windows would receive notifications directly on the desktop.

The notifications pilot was initially launched in Norway and Sweden in November, and expanded to five more countries in February. Starting Monday, the pilot will additionally cover the United States, United Kingdom, Malaysia, Australia and New Zealand.

"Customers tell us they want to know whether they are running a genuine copy of Windows, and the WGA notifications feature is a simple and effective way to help them," Microsoft's Genuine Software Initiative director Cori Hartje said in the announcement.

Additionally, Microsoft will bring its certification program to the Office productivity suite, launching Office Genuine Advantage in seven languages including Brazilian Portuguese, Czech, Greek, Korean, Simplified Chinese, Russian and Spanish.

"It is our goal to have a very healthy software selling ecosystem where resellers and system builders have a level playing field without the threat of competitors selling counterfeit products to our mutual customers," says Hartje.

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