If You Dislike Microsoft's Windows Antipiracy Checks, Look Out

If you don't like the mandatory antipiracy checks that Microsoft now enforces for Windows, brace yourself. The Microsoft Office productivity and collaboration suite is about to get a similar program.

The company's Office Genuine Advantage (OGA) program will require mandatory validation of Office software starting October 27, the software vendor quietly disclosed today. After that date, any Office Online templates downloaded from within the Office 2007 Microsoft Office System applications will require validation of legitimacy.

Similarly, starting in January, users of Office Update will have to validate the legitimacy of their Office software before they can use the service, Microsoft added.

Users absolutely hated the first iteration of the Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) program, and their protests pressured the company into revising it about a year after it launched in July 2005.

'Quick and Simple'

Microsoft said in a press statement that the validation process will be "quick and simple" for users. The OGA program, currently in the testing phase, is now available in 26 languages worldwide.

OGA is a sibling program to WGA; both automatically check a user's version of Microsoft software to ensure it is not counterfeit or pirated.

Microsoft has integrated this check directly into the next version of its OS, Windows Vista, as part of what it is calling a "Software Protection Platform." Through that automatic validation system, a Vista user must activate his or her copy of the software with a valid activation key within 30 days after purchase of the software, or see the OS enter a reduced functionality mode. In that mode, users can browse the Web for an hour but then the system will log them out, and they will have to log in again if they want to browse more.

Microsoft has increased its efforts in recent years to fight software piracy and counterfeiting of its software products. But these efforts have met with some resistance from users, especially when early bugs in the WGA checks were tagging legitimate software as counterfeit or pirated.

Microsoft also was forced to turn off a notification feature in WGA that sent information to the company from users' PCs when some users complained that the feature was acting like spyware.

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