Pirates Beware: XP Pro Nags Much More Prominent

Dennis Faas's picture

Microsoft has announced that it is updating the anti-piracy software in Windows XP Professional, making nagging more prominent for users running counterfeit copies. It will also give future updates of the Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) increased validation powers and new forms of notifications.

Microsoft announced the update, which is designed to increase the effectiveness of notifications and to 'align experiences across Windows XP and Windows Vista' via their WGA blog. The WGA update is offered to those using editions of Windows XP based on Pro code such as Tablet and Windows Media Center, but the plan is to narrow it to Windows XP Pro in future releases. Users of Windows XP Home will not be affected.

If after installing the WGA update Windows XP Pro fails the validation, users will discover on their next logon that their desktop has changed to a plain black background instead of whatever was previously there. Users will be able to reset the background on their desktop to whatever they like, but every 60 minutes it will change back to the plain black background. That will continue happening until that copy of Windows becomes genuine.

On top of the black background on their desktops, users will see "persistent desktop notification." The notification is similar to a watermark but works a little differently. The notification appears over the system tray and is non-interactive in the sense that you can't click on it or do anything to it. A permanent nag notice will also be shown in the bottom-right corner of the desktop.

Windows XP Pro customers will reportedly have new notifications installations. Users will click a simple End User License Agreement (EULA) instead of an installation wizard. The EULA was modified to allow the anti-piracy validation control to auto-update itself for future releases.

The EULA also contains new language: "The updates or downloads are required for the proper functioning of this supplement and may be downloaded and installed without further notice to you."

Users whose Windows Automatic Updates (AU) are set to make them aware of pending patches and fixes will be warned about future updates, allowing them to view and prevent future updates to WGA of AU, like they do now.

WGA is still a touchy topic for some. The last major update to WGA incorrectly accused several paying customers of running counterfeit versions of Windows. Convincing Microsoft that you've been incorrectly flagged as having counterfeit software can be a time-consuming chore.

The new version of WGA notifications will start showing up this week, although the process will take several months to roll out to everyone. More information is also available from ZDNet.

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