Windows Genuine Advantage 1.0 Goes Live

REDMOND, Wash. — July 25, 2005 —Microsoft Corp. today announced the transition of the Windows® Genuine Advantage (WGA) pilot to a version 1.0 launch with worldwide availability. WGA is part of Microsoft’s ongoing commitment to protecting its customers from software counterfeiting and to helping support partners through education, engineering, and enforcement of policies and laws. WGA, designed to differentiate the value of genuine Windows-based software from counterfeit software, enables customers to enjoy the capabilities they expect, provides them with confidence that their software is authentic, and delivers ongoing system improvements, including approximately $450 in software offerings available only to genuine users.

According to the Business Software Alliance, unlicensed and pirated software costs software vendors and national economies billions of dollars every year. Customers, businesses and resellers continually ask Microsoft for help in mitigating the threat posed by pirates.

One way to fight counterfeit software is to ensure that users recognize and receive all the benefits of genuine software. Customers who participate in WGA will have easy access to updates, added-value software offerings and other benefits of genuine Microsoft® Windows.

“During the 10-month pilot of WGA, we have been very encouraged by the large number of customers — more than 40 million in all — who chose to participate in WGA because they were concerned about piracy and wanted a way to determine whether their Windows software was genuine,” said Will Poole, senior vice president of the Windows Client Business at Microsoft. “It also became clear that customers want to take advantage of special offers reserved for genuine users, with the peace of mind that their software will deliver the features, options and performance they need.”

With the release of WGA 1.0, Microsoft has made a number of enhancements:

  • Validation via WGA will be required for all customers using Windows Update, Microsoft Update for Windows content, and the Download Center (DC). Security updates remain available to all Windows users — with or without WGA validation — via the DC or Automatic Updates.

  • Microsoft has provided ongoing added-value software offerings for genuine users throughout the WGA pilot as a way of providing these customers with richer Windows experiences. Microsoft has augmented its initial offerings with additional offers for a total value of approximately $450 (U.S.).

  • Microsoft has enhanced and simplified the validation process by automatically checking participants’ PCs to determine whether they are running genuine Windows software. All Windows users will no longer be required to enter their 25-digit product key to validate their software.

  • Two offers of genuine software will be available worldwide for Windows XP Professional and Home Edition for customers who unknowingly acquired counterfeit software. Qualifying customers who fill out a piracy report, provide proof of purchase, and send in their counterfeit CDs may receive a genuine copy at no cost. Qualifying customers who submit a piracy report may receive a genuine copy of Windows XP Home Edition for $99 ($U.S.) or Windows XP Professional for $149 ($U.S.). The latter offer will be fulfilled online and via CD through postal mail to help customers get genuine Windows as quickly and conveniently as possible.

“Microsoft has created a program that is fair to customers and reseller partners,” said Michael Cherry, lead analyst, Windows and Mobile, at Directions on Microsoft, an independent firm that provides analysis of Microsoft products and strategies. “While Microsoft is requiring customers to validate, they’re putting their best foot forward to help customers out, in terms of simplifying the process, creating software incentives and offering to help customers replace counterfeit software they acquired unwittingly.”

The WGA validation process is designed to be quick and simple. On their first visit to the Microsoft Download Center, Windows Update or Microsoft Update, customers will be asked to participate in WGA. They will be prompted to download an ActiveX®control that checks the authenticity of their Windows software and, if Windows is validated, stores a special download key on the PC for future verification. The validation process does not collect any information that can be used by Microsoft to identify or contact the user.

“Counterfeit software poses a very real problem for system builders and resellers because it creates an unfair price advantage for distributors that sell their counterfeit products at artificially low prices,” said Tim Klan, president of Expert Computers Inc. “Windows Genuine Advantage helps businesses such as mine because it levels the playing field for honest channel partners. What’s more, the software offerings and access to Microsoft’s download tools help us differentiate the genuine product we sell from the counterfeit products we compete with.”

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

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