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Microsoft To Implement Worldwide Anti-Piracy Initiative
Microsoft Press Release

Windows Genuine Advantage Verifies the Authenticity of Windows and Delivers New Benefits to Users of Genuine Software

Reading, UK, Jan. 26, 2005 - Microsoft announced today plans to enhance its anti-piracy efforts by expanding the Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) programme globally. WGA checks the authenticity of a user's software, helping consumers and businesses ensure they are receiving the greater reliability, access to updates, and richer user experience offered by genuine Windows XP.

In the second half of 2005, visitors to the Microsoft Download Center (http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/) and the Windows Update website (http://v5.windowsupdate.microsoft.com/v5consumer) will be required to participate in WGA in order to access all content. To help customers who may require more time to move to genuine Windows, Microsoft is offering security updates to customers through Windows Automatic Updates, with or without WGA validation. All participants with counterfeit versions of Windows will continue to receive guidance on how to recognise genuine Windows, how to seek redress from the seller, and how to protect their PC. 

"One of the best ways to tackle software piracy is to ensure users recognise and receive all the benefits of genuine software," said Alex Hilton, Anti Piracy Manager, Microsoft Ltd. "When our customers participate in the Windows Genuine Advantage programme they can protect themselves from the uncertainty and risks associated with counterfeit software.  Five million people have voluntarily taken part in WGA since it was introduced in September 2004 and we expect its strong uptake to continue."

Download Center users with Norwegian, Czech and Simplified Chinese language versions of Windows will be required to participate in the pilot program in order to access genuine Windows content.  In addition Microsoft will begin piloting a legalisation offer in the People's Republic of China, Norway, and the Czech Republic, for qualified participants who discover they have been sold a counterfeit version of Windows XP.  These customers will be offered the opportunity to receive a genuine version of Windows at a reduced price. 

According to the IDC Global Piracy Study released in July 2004, counterfeit software is used on 36 percent of all computers worldwide and on 29 percent of computers in the UK. Microsoft also aims to reduce the impact of counterfeit software on legitimate software resellers and economies around the world, which lose a total of more than $29 billion a year to counterfeit software, according to the Business Software Alliance.

Matthew Stokes, General Manager of Blue Solutions Ltd, a UK software sub-distributor, said: "The WGA program is a great way for Microsoft to help customers help themselves. Counterfeit and unlicensed software is a huge problem that the average Windows user probably isn't aware of. The WGA is another step towards the eradication of unscrupulous software trading and an added selling point for genuine Microsoft resellers."

From 7th February WGA will be enhanced in the following ways:

* Twenty new language versions of Windows XP will be added to the opt-in pilot program on the Microsoft Download Center, www.microsoft.com/downloads. 

* New software incentives will be added for genuine Windows users who take part in the program, including:

o       Photo Story 3 for Windows
o       Winter Fun Pack
o       50% off a selection of PC games from MSN Zone
o       Six-month trial of Microsoft Office OneNote
o       30% off New Microsoft Outlook Live service