Microsoft disclosed Monday that over one in five Windows installations were deemed non-genuine through the company’s Windows Genuine Advantage program, which requires users to validate their operating system before downloading updates from the company.
Since WGA launched in July 2005, over 512 million users have attempted to validate their copy of Windows, Microsoft said. Of those, the non-genuine rate was 22.3 percent. 56,000 reports have been made by customers of counterfeit software, which grants that user a free replacement copy of Windows.
Microsoft does admit to as many as 571,000 false positives (corrected on 1/25 per a correction in the original article – ed.) and you have to wonder how many legitimate paying customers were too baffled to actually complain, particularly given the anemic 56,000 who bothered to dropped a dime with a freebie in the offing.
Whatever the real number of pirated copies all this may be morally commendable, but the real question is how many scofflaws did it turn into paying customers? Aside from the 56,000 freebies there isn’t likely to be a clear answer. The next act in the morality play will be the Windows Vista Software Protection Program which has rather more draconian penalties than WGA.