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The Empire Strikes

Proving predictions by analysts wrong that growth days are gone, MS earnings for the quarter more than doubled, says Puneet Mehrotra.
PTI | By CYBERDUDE|Puneet Mehrotra
UPDATED ON FEB 05, 2005 01:27 PM IST

Microsoft does it again. Proving predictions by analysts wrong that the growth days are gone, Microsoft earnings for the quarter more than doubled to US$3.46 billion as revenue rose seven per cent over last year levels to $10.82 billion.

If the above proved the financial might of the biggest software giant in the world, the Windows Genuine Advantage program will prove what happens in the world of computers when the giant decides to act against the pirates.

Windows Genuine Advantage program

Microsoft for long has been aiming to crack down on pirated versions of its software. Under the Windows Genuine Advantage Program, Microsoft plans to require customers to verify that their copy of Windows is genuine before downloading security patches and other add-ons to the operating system. Since last few months the company has been testing a tool that can check whether a particular version of Windows is legitimate, but until now the checks have been voluntary.

According to Mary Jo Foley in Microsoft-Watch.com, more than 800,000 users have opted in to Microsoft's 'Windows Genuine Advantage' program since September 2004. When it launched in September its "Windows Genuine Advantage" pilot program, Microsoft was hoping 20,000 customers would opt into the voluntary program, via which Microsoft checks whether customers are running counterfeit copies of Windows. But by a little over a month later, 828,000 customers had opted in, according to Microsoft officials on Wednesday. And they did so with no real incentives, admitted David Lazar, director of Microsoft's Windows client product-management group.

Microsoft plans to make verification mandatory, later this year, in all countries for both add-on features to Windows as well as for all OS updates, including security patches.

The Windows Genuine Advantage scheme means people will have to prove their software is genuine from mid-2005. It will still allow those with unauthorized copies to get some crucial security fixes via automatic updates, but their options would be limited. Microsoft releases regular security updates to its software to protect PCs.

Either PCs detect updates automatically or users manually download fixes through Microsoft's site.

Those running pirated Windows programs would not have access to other downloads and "add-ons" that the software giant offers. People who try to manually download security patches will have to let Microsoft run Microsoft's regular patches which it releases for newly-found security flaws are important because they stop worms, viruses and other threats from penetrating PCs.

The Reactions

Any move by the giant is news. Microsoft probably has an army of admirers and haters.  The reactions to the Windows Genuine Advantage Program was similar.

Webpronews.com had interesting comments. You can view them here

Chanel praised the move

"…Another system builder said he doesn't worry so much about the margins on software sales but that he loses deals worth anywhere between $5,000 and $50,000 and potentially lucrative long-term customer relationships. He said he is pleased that users of pirated and unauthorized versions of Windows that attempt verification through the Windows Genuine Advantage site will be notified that they have a bad copy and advise them to contact their reseller."

You can view the detailed comments on the Webpronews site.

David Coursey, in eweek, has this to say “A 'Genuine' Pain in the Neck”

It's funny to read how Microsoft is apparently going ahead with plans to let hackers help the company battle pirates. What else can you call a program that denies security fixes to users whose systems haven't been certified "genuine" by Microsoft? The idea, I think, is for these machines to sit around unprotected until they eventually become useless under the weight of malware.”

You can view David’s comments here eweek.com

The Bottom-line

Every move by a giant like Microsoft makes an impact in the wired lives and times of today. You may love or hate Microsoft but simply cannot ignore this corporate giant.

And that’s the point Microsoft makes again. This time more directly than ever before.

Puneet Mehrotra is a web strategist at www.Cyberzest.com and edits www.MidnightEdition.com You can email him ebiz333@yahoo.com

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