Anti-piracy measures now include Windows Update

BBC News: Microsoft has stepped up its fight against software piracy by requiring users to verify their copies of the Windows operating system. Anyone downloading updates for Windows XP will be required to check that their operating system is genuine.

This validation process is in place right now as I discovered when I visited the Windows Update site today to install an optional update.

Upon landing on the site, I was presented with a screen saying that I needed to upgrade some components. Clicking OK resulted in a dialog with progress on installing those upgrades, which included software to validate my copy of Windows to show it was not an illegal or pirated copy.

The result was a success as the screenshot shows.

If it had not been a success, the consequence would be no access to any Windows updates except for security fixes.

Thirty-five percent of the software installed on personal computers worldwide was pirated in 2004, according to a recent study by IDC for the Business Software Alliance. The study said that worldwide losses to software publishers due to piracy increased from $29 billion the year before to $33 billion in 2004.

And with Windows accounting for 90% of operating systems sold worldwide, cracking down on the pirates is one of the few ways for Microsoft to expand its business, the BBC report said.

More info on Microsoft’s validation system at Genuine Microsoft Software. Also, see the guide on how to tell if your software is genuine or not.