Microsoft Offers Trade-Ins for Pirated XP in UK

In an attempt to cut down on the use of counterfeit software use, Microsoft is allowing users of non-licensed copies of Windows XP in the United Kingdom to trade them in for legitimate versions of the operating system.

The program, Windows XP Counterfeit Project, has some strings attached. To be eligible, users must live in the UK and have bought a new computer in the UK before Nov. 1 with Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition or Professional Edition pre-installed.

Up to five copies of the OS per person can be switched. The project will be in effect through the end of the year.

Information Gathering

What Microsoft is really after is the other information that users must supply.

In order to trade in a bogus copy for a sanctioned one, Microsoft first requires the user to send in all documentation on the software, including user manuals and warranties; the receipt from the original purchase; and a signed witness statement form explaining how the software was obtained. This, of course, tells Microsoft who is selling pirated versions of its intellectual property.

“Our goal is not to prosecute the individual; our goal is to get to the source,” said Alex Hilton, Microsoft’s licensing compliance manager, according to reports.

Billions in Losses

“Microsoft is evaluating many tactics to educate the software community about piracy, engineer products that address it, and enforce anti-piracy laws and policies,” a company spokesperson told TechNewsWorld.

The company quotes Business Software Alliance (BSA) figures estimating that 29 percent of all software installed in the UK in the last year is illegal in some way. BSA said its Global Software Piracy Study found that 36 percent of the software installed on computers worldwide in 2003 was pirated, costing software manufacturers nearly $29 billion. The BSA’s membership compromises many major software and hardware companies, including Microsoft.

In September, the company launched Windows Genuine Advantage, another attempt to validate the software installed on a computer. Customers who go to the Microsoft Download Center are asked to check their software through the genuine advantage program. Microsoft said that as of the end of October, 828,000 customers had done so.

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