nagulator, Microsoft to mark illegal copies

PIRATED software users be warned. Microsoft Corp is going to start “nagging” Windows users who do not have a legitimate copy of its operating system (OS).

Starting tomorrow, the software giant will permanently flag personal computers that are not running a genuine copy of Windows.

This move affects the six million Windows users in this country, as well as those in the United States, Britain, New Zealand and Australia.

Industry sources informed In.Tech that the software giant is giving Windows the ability to tell if a user's PC is running a genuine or pirated version of the OS, via an update patch that becomes available from tomorrow.

The patch takes effect if a PC user has opted to automatically update Windows the moment he goes online. It will also take effect should a PC user manually download the latest Windows updates.

If the OS is an unauthorised copy, a pop-up dialogue box will appear on the Windows login screen, informing the user that his copy of the OS is counterfeit and that he should get a genuine copy.
DIALOGUE BOX: The notification that will appear on the login screen. It can be temporarily suppressed by clicking 'Resolve Later'.

A notification stating “This copy of Windows is not genuine. You may be a victim of software counterfeiting.” is also permanently “tattooed” to the bottom righthand corner of the same screen.

Another pop-up message which states that “You may be a victim of software counterfeiting. This copy of Windows is not genuine. Click this balloon to resolve now.” will appear at random times whenever the computer is in use.

The only way to stop the messages from appearing is to replace the OS with a genuine copy, available from any of Microsoft's authorised dealers in the country.

All together now

When contacted by In.Tech, Microsoft Malaysia said the Windows update is being released simultaneously in all five countries.

K.T. Ng, group manager for Windows Client solutions at Microsoft Malaysia, said the update is part of the second wave of the software giant's Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) initiative.

The initiative is aimed at protecting its customers and partners from counterfeit software, he said.

It is not to punish anyone using pirated copies of Windows, but to better serve Microsoft's genuine users.

“Genuine Windows users are rewarded with Internet Explorer 7.0 (IE7) and Windows Defender,” said Ng.

IE7 is an even more secure version of Microsoft's web browser while Windows Defender is an antispyware tool (see In.Tech, April 18 and 20 for more details).

PC users with systems that have been tattooed will not be able to download IE7 or Windows Defender, but will still receive security patches for Windows.

Beware the 'nagulator'

Ng has nicknamed the automatic antipiracy pop-up message system as the “nagulator.”

He said it would nag users of counterfeit copies of Windows into going legitimate.

“But if you are a businessman or a corporate executive, it would also be embarrassing to have the nagulator pop-up during a PC-based presentation or during an office visit by clients or potential customers,” he said.

According to Ng, the nagulator would also alert consumers to counterfeit copies of Windows.

He said counterfeiters have been able to reproduce Microsoft product packaging to the point where consumers are unable to tell genuine from imitation.

“Those customers will now have peace of mind,” he said. “Also, users who buy a PC or laptop preloaded with Windows, will be able to check if they are victims of software piracy.”

Microsoft officially launched its WGA initiative in July last year.

It estimates that about 200,000 Windows users in Malaysia will have their systems validated tomorrow because they have opted for automatic updates.

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