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Windows XP Piracy Badgering Set To Begin

Microsoft is altering the Windows Geniune Advantage anti-piracy mechanism in XP Professional to match the WGA notification process of Vista service pack 1.

After the update, WGA notifications for XP will be the same as they are for Windows Vista service pack 1, said Alex Kochis, senior product manager in the Windows Genuine Advantage group, in a Tuesday blog post.

That means users whose copies of XP fail validation will see a black background the next time they log in. Although users will be free to switch to their background of choice, the black screen will return every 60 minutes until they validate their copy, and they'll also see a watermark with a logo that reads "Ask For Genuine Microsoft Software."

According to Kochis, this will make it easier for XP users to install and stay up to date with the latest release of WGA notifications. "Our research has clearly shown that customers value the ability of Windows to alert them when they may have software that is not genuine, but they also want the ability to stay up to date with the least effort required on their part," he wrote.

WGA is designed to combat piracy by installing software on users' PCs that periodically checks to see if their version of Windows is authentic before allowing them to download updates. However, WGA has been a source of frustration for many users since it was launched in 2005, due to several incidents in which genuine users have been mistakenly identified as pirates.

Prior to the release of Vista service pack 1, Vista copies that failed WGA validation would enter a reduced functionality mode in which certain features were disabled, but Microsoft changed to the black screen nagging approach when it released Vista SP1.

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