Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Windows Warning

Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of local PC users running pirated Windows operating systems will soon face the shame of being reminded of their illegal action every time they switch on their machines.

The feature will be added to the operating system by Microsoft Corp from tomorrow and cannot be erased. It will nag the guilty users and can be awkward if it shows up on corporate PCs.

There are about six million Windows PC users in the country, according to industry estimates, while anti-piracy watchdog Business Software Alliance has reported that 61% of all software used in local private businesses is illegal.

Current users of PCs running pirated Windows will find their machines “tattooed” the next time they update the operating system.

Basically, a message stating “This copy of Windows is not genuine ...” will be permanently affixed to the operating system’s login screen, and a similar message will randomly pop up on the desktop whenever the machine is in use.

The anti-piracy move is being kicked off in five countries tomorrow – the United States, Britain, New Zealand, Australia and Malaysia.

Users whose machines have been affected will only be able to get rid of the tattoo if they install a genuine copy of Windows. Prices range from RM320 for a copy of Windows XP Home (OEM version) to RM510 for Windows XP Pro (OEM version).

“Or they can put up with being ‘nagged’ by the pop-up message every time they use their computers,” said K.T. Ng, group manager for Windows Client solutions at Microsoft Malaysia.

If they were businessmen or corporate executives, it would be embarrassing if their clients saw the tattoo indicating that a pirated copy of Windows was being used, he said.

According to Ng, the move was aimed at better serving Microsoft’s genuine users.

For example, he said, counterfeiters had been able to reproduce Microsoft product packaging to the point where consumers were unable to tell genuine from imitation.

“The pop-up message would immediately alert consumers to counterfeit copies of Windows, such as when they buy a new notebook or PC,” he said.

If a user has unknowingly received an illegal copy of the operating system, he will be able to report the vendor concerned by clicking on the “Get Genuine” button at the login screen.

Machines that have been tattooed will still be able to receive software updates for the operating system, but will not be allowed to download Internet Explorer 7.0 (IE7) and Windows Defender.

IE7 is the new, more secure version of Microsoft’s web browser while Windows Defender is an anti-spyware program.

For more details, see your copy of In.Tech in today’s paper.

Source:The Star