back to article MS beefs up WinXP Pro's anti-piracy nagware

Microsoft wants to rein in more Windows XP pirates over the coming weeks, by pushing out a new version of its “nagware” which detects when a machine is running a fake copy of the OS. The company’s Genuine Windows director Alex Kochis said yesterday that Redmond will release the latest version of its Windows Genuine Advantage ( …


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  1. Anonymous Coward


    and no nagware.

  2. Anonymous Coward

    One easy solution

    Would be for MS to provide an XP Pro to XP Home converter tool, so those people who actually have an XP Home license and have foolishly, or unwittingly installed XP Pro could downgrade in a simple fashion.

  3. petebog

    “plain black background”

    Is what I always set my desktop to. Makes it a bit tricky to tell if my copy's genuine or not...

  4. Dave K
    Thumb Down


    So MS want pirates to go genuine on an OS that they won't sell to them anymore?

    I know at least 2 friends who have dodgy XP installs. Not because they're too tight to buy it, but because they've bought a PC/laptop with Vista, hated it, wanted XP and been unable to actually buy it these days. Hence their only options have been to stick with an OS they dislike, or stick a dodgy copy of an OS on that they prefer.

  5. Anonymous Coward

    Not for Me !

    Dumped that M$ crap a long time ago !

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    what other operating system are you going to pirate?

    Vista = shit, preinstalled shit for the most part that you want to get rid of.

    2000 = too old

    XP Home = well you can get XP Pro

    XP Pro = that's the badger

    Linux = most versions are free

    Mac OS = comes with the machine

  7. Paul Buxton

    Par for the course

    "it would be below us to suggest that even the pirates have a hard time selling Vista."

    No, it would be predictable.

  8. Joerg

    Since when Microsoft has political, legal and military powers ?

    In practice Microsoft is spreading out viruses with which they can control people machines claiming that they are using a pirated copy and everyone knows that thanks to many documented false positives that's going to happen to those that paid for the insanely priced OS license and not just using copies.

    Vista SP1 is available everywhere on the 'net.. just look at torrent sites and P2P networks.. there are hundreds versions fully cracked and fully working being spread daily and with which WindowsUpdate works perfectly. So, why Microsoft doesn't care about "protecting Vista users" but wants to be so helpful towards XP customers?

    If only Microsoft wasn't a monopoly allowed to do whatever they want to and completely out of control like no other business in the world and if only their products prices were fair then there wouldn't have been so much people using cracked copies, and that's for sure.

    If a product is priced right then 90%+ of people will buy it. There is no reason why an OS license must cost 4-5 up to 20 times more than a blockbuster high budget movie DVD or BD disc release. Really, there is none.

    The right price for a Vista Ultimate license should be $69 while basic versions should be priced in the $29 - $59 range.

    The same applies to XP and Windows2003/Windows2008. Instead their license are so expensive that even a profitable business risks to go bankrupt paying the Microsoft monopoly those insane prices.

  9. Gordon Fecyk

    Same old same old, deal with it freetards.

    Rather than waste space here...

    Symantec Pot calls Microsoft Kettle Black:


  10. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Here's to another round of false positives!

    As usual this will only inconvenience the the honest customers, the "genuine" pirates will get off scot-free.

  11. adnim

    for clarity

    "Microsoft has previously claimed that XP is more pirated than any other operating system. It reckons that the counterfeit rate for Vista is less than half that of XP, it would be below us to suggest that even the pirates have a hard time selling Vista."

    XP has been around for sometime now, how many millions of copies are in use out there, How many windows based machines run XP, the vast majority. So it comes as no surprise that XP is the most pirated OS.

    Vista is being avoided like the plague, it is also no surpirse that the counterfeit rate is less than half of XP. I believe It has a user base of less than 10% of that of XP despite what MS would like us to believe. Not because it is difficult to pirate either, but because it is DRM riddled and adds another layer of obfuscation between the user and the real workings of the OS. Those likely to use a pirated OS are not likely to use a DRM riddled pos that hides it's true M.O. behind a flashy user interface.

    Pirates have a hard time giving vista away let alone selling it!

  12. Frank Thomas

    Pirating Vista is easy

    it's just that no one wants to....

    This is why I went with ubuntu, and haven't looked back since.

  13. dervheid
    Thumb Down

    Oooh, let's see how we can alienate people even more.

    I know!

    I know!

    <Yes Kochis>

    Let's make WGA an even bigger pain in the ass Bill.

    Oh Joy.

    More bloat.

  14. Simon Riley
    Thumb Up

    Even the pirates have a hard time selling Vista

    "it would be below us to suggest that even the pirates have a hard time selling Vista"

    Reg I salute you!

  15. Anonymous Coward

    Not just false positives they need to fix...

    It's the false negatives too.

    I'll admit to having used some dodgy copies of XP, Office and the likes on more than one occasion. You know, same product key on multiple machines simultaneously, friend-of-a-friend disk that makes it's way through the halls of residence, etc. We were all students once, weren't we?

    Despite that, I never once had a product activation or WGA check fail on me. Not once. Not even when I activated the same XP product key on two different machines a matter of days apart.

    What's the point in even having stuff like WGA if they can't even spot a XP Home license that's in use on countless different machines?

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    the new enhanced expiriance

    it is bad enough that the MS has relesed a plague of vista upon the world

    now they try to enhance xp users expiriance to that of vista?

    to quote the old catch phrase by ms : where do you want to go today?

    i have an answer me i want to go no where in particular but you and that idea can go to bloody hell!

    i just have to ask how is it going to help anyway?

    i already had seen the nag disablers for vista on torrent sites so what is the point of doing to xp?

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Par for the course

    and accurate.

    PS where can I buy a legitimate XP pro? Unfortunately Vista won't run on my hardware

  18. Hans

    Plain black background eh?

    Well that'll be good, because plain black has been my background of choice with my (legit) XP installation for the past 2½ years. Ho hum

  19. A J Stiles

    Oh dear

    I suppose, as an Evil Penguin-Shagging Communist™, I should actually be pleased about this. After all, if you don't want to pay for an Operating System, you don't have to.

    If you want Windows, pay for it ..... If you don't want to pay for it, use Open Source. Not rocket science.

  20. bill

    He's Excited

    Oh Joy... I am excited for him........aaaaaaaaaaaaaargh

  21. Mark

    re: Same old same old

    Uh, do we get to have our money back now that we are being forced to accept a change? After all, if "we've bought the license to use" and they change how we are to use it, we should get our money back when we refuse the contract change, yes?

  22. Jolyon Ralph
    Thumb Up

    Can I get a screenshot of this black background with nag message?

    Sounds like a fun jape to start installing it as people's background wallpaper.


  23. jonathan keith

    Buying XP Pro seem to still have copies in stock

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    MS beefs up WinXP Pro's anti-piracy nagware...

    ..or the story of how to move pirate users to Vista.

    ps: where is the ballmer icon?

  25. Dave

    Can you get a bigger picture of the nagware screen please?

    It's just that I swapped to Ubuntu a couple of months back and would like it as my wallpaper.

    Just as good as Windows, except faster, more powerful and less flashing districations. Not missed Windows at all.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Dave K et al

    As has been publicised on here previously, and is pretty widely known across tha' web, if you want to run LEGAL XP purchase a copy of Vista (if you're box didn't come with one), then simply phone MS and exercise your downgrade rights by requesting an XP licence key. You may need to source your own media though...

  27. Christopher Martin

    What "metrics" are they using?

    Does anyone know? I doubt Microsoft talks about it openly. I'd really like to see an investigative (do people do that?) report on how WGA is supposed to work, and why it fails so badly.

    Before I switched my home machines to Linux, I had replaced my pre-installed XP systems with a copy of Win2k from Pirate Bay. WGA deemed it "genuine".

  28. Ted Treen

    Where's Webster?

    I thought Mr Phreaky would take a moment or two off from his anti-Apple diatribes, and possibly stand up for an OS he believes to be vastly superior.

    Maybe his nurse (or that nice B-I-I-G young man dressed all in white) won't let him come out to play today...

    Mine's the Mac...

  29. Anonymous Coward

    MS dont get it

    Customers whose machines are found to be running dodgy copies of XP will see their desktop backgrounds change to a “plain black background”. A user can change their screen settings as desired, but the nagware will, er, paint it black every 60 minutes.

    I use a black screen as my background most of the time anyway. For people that dont you can use software from places like that set the wallpaper at regular intervals.

    "A static message will also hang around on the desktop, pestering the user that their copy of XP appears to be a knock-off version of the operating system."

    Wont that be hidden behind my icons? Oh well..

  30. James
    Gates Horns

    Lock Out

    So what happens if you set the access rights of your log-on to not allow background changes...

    but really whats the point, the Freetards (of which I confess to being one) just use a crack copy, and update via alternative websites that kindly get the updates for us, or just not bother updating at all relying on firefox, firewall, routers and avg.

    Vista, why bother when XP works for all my needs and as more and more of my software is cloud based the operating system is becoming nothing more than a way of loading firefox..

    Would get off my lazy but and learn penguin but it doest play the games I like

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ @Dave K et al

    Interesting, I didn't know about that. I've been putting off buying a laptop because I wanted Vista to get bedded in a bit more before I start tackling it. So how does the downgrade work? Do you have to downgrade to XP Home; do you need a certain version of Vista to downgrade to XP Pro?

  32. Anonymous Coward

    @paint it black every 60 minutes.

    This assumes XP will actually stay up for 60 minutes!!

  33. Jonathan
    Gates Horns

    @ @ AC (Downgrade) / Dave K

    Yes you need Vista Business or Ultimate and normally i get a XP Pro key with no problem,

    then you use your copy/iso of xp you downloaded and input the key they gave you over the phone during the downgrade and away you go!!...last time i asked it also allows you to (for what ever reason) upgrade back to the version of vista you orginally im told.

    or just use suse + wine...

  34. Anonymous Coward

    hard figures required...

    "It reckons that the counterfeit rate for Vista is less than half that of XP"

    If Vista is copied half as much as XP, then correspondingly the pirated copies of XP must be a very, very low figure. I don't know anyone who wants vista - and only one who bought a PC with it (against advice) and regretted it.

    So if pirates have somehow managed to persuade 100 people to try using a shit OS, then that only makes 200 using one not quite so restrictive, slow, and generally crap.

    If that's the case, they're either talking a whole load of BS (there's absolutely no way 50% of pirate installs are Vista - I don't know of a single one) or they really haven't got a clue who's using what, but still want to make Vista sound usable by boosting the number of "counterfeit" copies it claims are in use.

  35. Avi

    *turns off automatic updates*

    It's not like it's a difficult workaround...

  36. Alexander

    Ubuntu ?

    You have got to be kidding "Just as good as Windows, except faster, more powerful and less flashing districations."

    In no way would i call myself a MS fan by any means, but the statment above is like saying "my Mac runs more software and connects to more hardware than my pc can"

    some one once said "there is lies then there is damn lies" vista may be an application waiting for a purpose but ubuntu is as buggy as any other os seems you just have not used it enough.

  37. kevin biswas

    When will people learn to leave windows update OFF !!

    Allow a bunch of untrustworthy corporate twats to install anything they like on your box ? errr, yeah. Right. Autopatcher, we miss you.

  38. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Vista Business/Enterprise/Ultimate can be downgraded to XP Pro/Win2k Pro

    Vista Home Basic/Premium can be downgraded to XP Home

    Also Server 2008 can be downgraded to 2000/2003 with similar restrictions ie standard to standard etc

  39. YumDogfood

    Cac(he) flush

    So, pressure by MS to kill off as many XP installs as possible. Unexpected that.

  40. dave hands

    @ Alexander

    some one once said "there is lies then there is damn lies"

    No they didn't. They said "there are lies, damned lies and there are statistics".

    A much more applicable quote to the original theme.

    Ubuntu is faster than Windows, I know because I used every version up to and including the last release. As to bugs, the Open Source model means they're more likely to be fixed.

    All OS's crash. From my own experience, OSX crashes less than anything else.

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward



    So, why Microsoft doesn't care about "protecting Vista users" but wants to be so helpful towards XP customers?


    Considering "legalized" copyright violation (for example when they had the cheap license fee for people that supposedly bought incorrectly channeled software) is the possibly the best way to distribute rubbish software, I think it's brilliant.

    "Hey, we can't pirate XP anymore, lets put Vista on the PC!!". At least, that worked back in the day of Windows95/98, if anyone remembers back then.

    Now, however; with Linux actually becoming a worthwhile competitor with the likes of Xandros and Ubuntu actually being usable by effectively clueless users like granny and grandpa, I think it'll be a harder strategy to pull off.

    I just WISH Linux would have better support for windows games. If it did, I think we'd see more home users installing it on their primary PC's. I know I would.. I just can't be bothered setting up dualboot just so that I can play games.

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Microsoft:Racism? Linking the colour black to negative connotations of piracy?

    I can see MS ending up in hot water of this, to link a black background to negative aspects such a piracy gives the impression that well anything black has a negative connotation associated with it, ie. a subtle form of racism.

    I know you have blacklists and whitelists regarding email, but nothing as 'graphic' as actually a black background representing that fact that you are pertaking in 'illegal' activities.

    Once you change your licence key does your screen change to a nice shade of pastel pink?

    and everything is fine and dandy in your little 'white' world. Now as I remember Office 2002 had a problem where if you searched for clip art 'monkey' it bought back the image of a black family - correct me if I wrong.

  43. James Pickett
    Gates Horns


    "XP is more pirated than any other operating system"

    I don't suppose it occurs to MS to think that through...

    As for up (sorry down) -grading Vista, I thought you could only do that with the Business versions now?

  44. Law
    Gates Horns

    give it a few years

    and they will miss the pirates - they will be begging people to jump back on the Windows wagon in any way they can! Why? Because they surely get more than enough money from all the side-applications they sell that run ontop of the most widely used desktop pc operating system, Windows XP. If you take away the pirate versions, and force legit people to get Vista in their next PC against their will - you will start to see Linux and OSX taking over - as that happens you will get less sales of M$ software - and they lose more money than when the pirating was more prolific.

    Where are my facts and figures for this theory/prophecy?? We don't need no stinking facts or figures, this is the internet, I'm allowed to shovel as much opinionated crap as I want!! :)

  45. tuna

    Vista "Upgrade" to XP

    Hey Anon, you must have Vista Business, Enterprise or Ultimate to exercise the "upgrade" to XP PRO option.

    PS: Don't be fooled, "Premium" is not not premium enough to be eligible. That's why all the low end 'puters have Premium stuck on them, so you can buy a second license. ;-)

  46. Mage Silver badge

    XP Pirate

    A copy I re-installed was flagged as "pirate" They offered the option of a licence for about 70 Euro, or ring and argue.

    It was 2am and their WAS someone to ring and argue (may not have been a real person).

    "Is this installed on any other PCs?"

    >> "No the previous PC (laptop) was sat on and broken"

    "Did it come with the PC"

    >> "No we bought it in a box in the Shop"

    "OK here is a key to enter...."

    All true BTW.

  47. tuna
    Gates Horns

    "Vista Home Basic/Premium can be downgraded to XP Home"

    Since when? Could you provide a link to an updated Microsoft EULA page stating this, please? While this would be great and fair, MS is not.



  48. Geoff Mackenzie


    I've been running Ubuntu about a year now (switched over from Fedora because I liked the lazy, no-effort, just-works experience Ubuntu offered). I'm a developer and run four Ubuntu servers (on creaking legacy hardware) and two Ubuntu Desktop machines (one creaking, one pretty quick).

    In the past 12 months my grottiest machine has had about 2 hrs downtime while I replaced its dust-clogged, worn out fans, and the fast one was down for 15 minutes for an internal clean and the addition of an extra hard drive. A couple of applications have occasionally flaked out on me, including OOo and Eclipse, but I've not lost any data as a result or been forced to reboot the OS. My workhorses (Postgres, MySQL, PHP, Tcl, Squid, Tor and Apache) have been flawless. I've had no hardware compatibility issues (and I do use a wireless network and a ton of USB devices - mostly storage, plus a digital camera, a few of which were officially badged as Windows only).

    Most of my machines are tucked in behind a firewall but I do have one trusty world-facing webserver that also runs Tor. I get a few 'knocks on the door' a day but have never had a successful break-in (touches wood and tails logs).

    Just as buggy, my arse.

  49. gothicform
    Gates Horns

    Can I have some refunds?

    I was under the impression that when you got an O/S you had a license for it that could be refunded? I have bought from MS and have copies of to this day, DOS5, Windows 3, Windows 95 (x2 copies as I lost the key for one and had to rebuy it), Windows 98SE, Windows 2000 and now Windows XP Professional.

    There's only one flaw... it seems MS won't actually refund your license on an old operating system because it doesn't have a retail value any more. Despite this though, they seem eager to apply an ever increasing amount of restrictions to users of XP which they can no longer buy.

    If it now has no marketable value why are they introducing this? If XP still has such a value, surely my old O/Ss do as well. I'd like my money back for all of them please.

    The logic of MS thus goes -

    1) You buy a license from us for using that O/S

    2) You can refund the license, except if we don't sell the O/S

    3) We will introduce systems that will stop you pirating an O/S we no longer sell

    4) But if you want to buy a legal version... you can't.

  50. Dave K

    @ @ AC (Downgrade) / Dave K

    So it's practically useless then if you get a laptop/PC with Vista Home Premium (as most retail systems come with). If it were possible to downgrade VHP to XP Home, that'd be great. But it isn't.

    If you get a machine with VHP, you're either stuck with it, or you have to resort to piracy to get XP.

  51. Anonymous Coward

    I've got a genuine version of windows

    Came of the same CD used to install on each of my entire family's PCs and some work colleagues too! Good job its has a hologram thingy on it!

    Of course, it isn't anywhere near as useful as the bootleg copy I got which has SATA drivers built into the install system...

    Harrr, me hearties! I see booty in yonder Paris

    Anon, 'cause I have to pull me 3-pointed hat down over my internet connection!

  52. Tom
    Paris Hilton

    If MS think...

    People will say

    "Oh dear it seems my copy of XP may not be real, I better go to Best Buy and get a new computer with Vista"

    They are dreaming.

  53. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Proudly Pirate.

    I have a genuine licensed copy of windows, but use TinyXP, a pirate version, why?? cos every few months, or whenever I change a disk drive it would tell me it needed re-verifying, then fail to verify and force me to use my lunch break to phone Micro$hit.

    Why do I still use Windows??

    Two reasons, first to keep up with whatever my mother does when she "breaks" her business PC and, well, I'm lazy!!!

    Paris, cos she still thinks windows are something the staff open.

  54. Futaihikage

    ohhhh more IT fun for all!

    I guess I should thank Microsoft for giving me more job security, because I KNOW there is going to be someone out there that is going to create spyware or a virus that will mimic this process... fantastic.. Not many end-users are going to be able to tell a faked active desktop background from the REAL nagware warning. Woohooo

    Thanks to Microsoft... I get to enjoy nightmarish meeting about privacy concerns with implementing IE 8 with its "privacy mode" into an enterprise , Vista and its wonderful enchancements, but we also get to have people calling us saying their machines desktop background of some puppy is now gone and they are getting an endless array of popups. So much for the slow days of work...

  55. Anonymous Coward

    You're Nicked!

    'Ello 'Ello 'Ello Wot's this we 'Ave 'Ere then?

    So tell me El Reg, how exactly did you produce that screenshot with the black screen and the counterfeit notice?

    I must warn you that anything you say will be taken down and may be used in evidence against you.

  56. J


    That was a good one, sir... But are you *denigrating* Microsoft, by any chance!?

  57. J
    Black Helicopters

    Seriously now...

    There should be a law: If the software providers stop selling/supporting a product, they must release the "abandoned" product's source code to the public domain or something like that, as long as anyone can use. That would take care of most of these problems, no?

  58. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    M$ lost the plot...

    ...about 2-3 years ago when they in$i$ted on pu$hing out completely unready $h!t whil$t not recogni$ing that mo$t bu$ine$$e$ were very happy $taying on XP, or 2000, or NT4.

    Unfortunately, Linux lo$t the plot when they all became "democratic" and offered a million ver$ion$ of the $ame underlying $ound O$, confu$ing the hell out of of potential user$, developer$, etc...

    $o, Job$ roll$ onward$ for the kid$, dome$tic and arty-to$$er$ market$ whil$t everyone el$e who i$ not a freetard, commie, or lo$er $tick$ with....XP, 2000, NT4 for the next 2-3 year$ planning horizon.

    Linux = lo$er$

    Micro$oft = lo$er$

    MacO$ = $....despite it being a pile of candy girlie cr@p

    I know you hate it, but $$$ because its all all ultinately about more, or less, $$$, whether you like that or not! A bit like Pari$

  59. herman Silver badge

    Mother support...

    Hey guy with Mother problem - you should install a reverse VNC server on her PC for support:

    You are welcome...

  60. Anonymous Coward

    paint the screen black every 60 minutes

    MS, you're downright Boring! Show us all at least the _slightest_ spark of creativity and humor now. Hoist that Jolly Roger backdrop, matey!

  61. Geoff Mackenzie

    @J ("Seriously now")

    The same thought has often crossed my mind, but obviously MS can't go that way. Admittedly XP to Vista seems to have been quite a jump in terms of new code, but NT4 to NT5 to NT6? Radically different chrome but essentially the same engine. Releasing the source of NT4 would probably still constitute releasing a fair chunk of XP (and indeed a reasonably large subset of Vista, I reckon).

    Essentially it seems to me that Microsoft's income depends on being able to release a product, support it for a short while, then slow down the updates for a while to build up a head of steam, respray the old crate and fire it out as a new release - basically, they support essentially the same product for 10 years and call it a different one every 2 or 3 so that they can charge for it again.

    So getting them to release the source for the 'old, obsolete' version is probably a no-no, simply because it actually *is* the shiny new one. Also, if the excerpts from the Win2K code I've seen are real and are anything to go by it's a little heavy on the expletives and "We are morons" in-jokes so there'd be a bit of an embarrassment factor there.

    There must be some kind of half-way house, though - they could keep supporting old versions but cease to promote them. After all marketing must be a bigger expense than R&D for a company that warms over left-overs for a living.

  62. Henry Wertz Gold badge

    Re: various comments

    "In practice Microsoft is spreading out viruses with which they can control people machines claiming that they are using a pirated copy and everyone knows that thanks to many documented false positives that's going to happen to those that paid for the insanely priced OS license and not just using copies."

    Yep, and it's all in the EULA -- Microsoft can put on, remove, or transmit to them, anything from your Windows system they want. They put this in with I believe Windows 2000 SP4 -- there's still hospitals etc. that run SP3 because SP4, XP, etc. violate HIPPA privacy regs.

    "You have got to be kidding "Just as good as Windows, except faster, more powerful and less flashing districations.""

    You won't hear me laughing. 8.04.1 seems rock stable. I'm even running the alpha version 8.10 on a PowerPC and IT'S stable. It IS faster, and it's not distracting -- you get a fairly unobtrusive thing saying when you have updates, not one per app, and you need your password to install apps (as opposed to the fairly overblown UAC). I suppose you can argue about "powerful", Ubuntu's pretty pointless if you're goal is to run like Visual Studio, but I think it's powerful to be able to install your OS and apps on whatever you want without a single care about licensing, and have a UNIX base when I want to get down and dirty.

  63. tempemeaty

    Microsoft is still...

    ...doing everything they can to wipe out the PC hardware manufactures business...

  64. R Cox

    Every Time I try to use MS OS

    I have two or three applications that runs on MS Windows. Every few years I think it would be nice to run these on my own machine, so I fork over the money for MS Windows, install it, go through the interrogation proving I am licensed to use the product I paid for, and go happily on my way. I realize that MS software is really quite good, and wonder why I don't just switch over to it for home use.

    Then comes the problem where I have to reinstall, or change the virtual machine, and I get the ominous warning. You cannot reactivate. You will not be able to run this machine after x number of days. You must call in and get a special code. Honestly I paid for the software, and only use it one machine. I am not a pirate. I just want to get my work done without the threats of destruction just because MS thinks I might, possible, be a pirate. I have enough problems without the fear of MS suing me. This makes it pretty clear that MS products are not reliable, and we are better off using other products.

  65. Matthew

    hmm i saw th "critical update" download yesterday...

    Luckily i have a genuine CD. but maybe they should offer free downgrades (well there upgrades really) from vista down to XP. That would be great. Im sure alot of people have Vista CD's now and hate it so have just downgraded to XP on a pirate copy... but since they have a copy of vista and a licence for that... it would be great if they could use as an upgrade licence to XP!

  66. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton


    I'm really surprised that the biggest pc makers have not crawled back to ibm and said...hey, bowsabout an updated had a pretty good one at one time and got bent over by MS....isn't it about time to give it back to 'em?

    Paris, because she's not a ME2 kind of girl.

  67. Shadow Systems

    I'm not the first, & won't be the last...

    About two years ago I purchased an HP Pavilion, direct from HP, with an OEM copy of Windows XP Pro installed.

    Slightly more than a year ago, Windows Update told me my copy was suddenly pirated.

    I called the Help Line, and got nowhere.

    That night I slapped in a spare HD, installed Ubuntu on it, & I've been using Ubuntu ever since.

    I still have the original drive with the "pirate" OEM copy of XP Pro on it, but I only boot to that drive when I find something I absolutely, positively, can not get working under Linux.

    I've only HAD to boot to Windows *three times* in the last year, and two of those were because I wanted to play a game I couldn't get to run under WINE.

    (Which now works under WINE, and runs *BETTER* than in Windows!)

    Ubuntu runs my WiFi, USB, DVD player, mp3's, Flash, et al like a champ; OpenOffice reads & writes those stupid Office documents, Power Point presentations, Excel spreadsheets, et cetera; all without the headache Windows provides.

    MS, you had the unmitigated GAUL to claim my OEM copy of XP Pro was pirated.

    When I called to ask WTH, you asked me if I "purchased it from a dodgy retailer?"

    Not unless you call dialing up HP's B2B Direct Sales line gets me provided with counterfeit software.

    MS, you lost a customer because of your shenanigans.

    I'm not the first, & I certainly won't be the last.

  68. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    ANYTHING to flog a copy of Vista

    "WGA validation failures, which have been known to falsely flag up legitimate installs as invalid"

    Yes - I know. It's happened to me, oddly enough only since M$ inflicted Vista on an unsuspecting world. AND it took a threat of legal action after three days arguing with M$ UK to get it turned back on.

    M$ are frankly, filth. Vista is crap, I know, I've tried it. And I have no intention of buying another M$ OS until they produce something with the speed and functionality of XP Pro. Something they seem to find very hard to understand.

  69. Bill
    Gates Horns

    You have to be kidding right?

    Isn't XP the first OS that MS has been able to track??? That would explain a lot about how it's the most pirated version of Windows to date, mainly because it's the only one that they have semi concrete numbers on.

  70. heystoopid


    So in the ad Mac speaking to PC "Quite a few bootleggers and pirates in your family tree I see , I'm off to use my MSI Wind clone as my Wintel dual boot MacBook pro is in the shop again getting a second or third replacement display LCD screen care to follow me ?" !

  71. Andy Worth

    Re:M$ lost the plot...

    Is the S button broken on your keyboard?

  72. Steve Liddle

    Love black on XP

    Desktop is black on the xp box, running high res graphics slow it down, unlike the vista box, so although both are legit copies, might not notice it that much

    Considering MS were wanting to dump XP, why get so fussy now ?

  73. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I really hope it fails to detect my valid licenses

    Regardless of what their license claims, doing this to my legally licensed copies of XP would amount to intrusion. The resulting time and expenses could quite comfortably lead to claims of "abuse of monopoly", unauthorised intrusion et al, but best of all they will create even more awareness that running MS originated software is a huge risk for anyone who handles confidential information.

    What's more, you don't need to go after them legally. The marketing effect of YACU (Yet Another Cock-Up) when using customers as feature beta testers will be enough.

    To me, it all smells of desperation to get at least *some* non-OEM Vista sales on record.

    Having said that, could someone take a 4x4 clue bat to the moronic idiot who defaults the installation of Safari with Apple Update? Yes, Jobs, you. I use iTunes because it is reasonably useful, but if this crap with Safari lasts much longer it'll be the last time Apple Update has worked on my system. The behaviour of that app alone makes me doubt I'd go the Mac route - it would be swapping one control freak for another (yes, I have an iPhone but that's company issue, my Sony Ericsson P1i is MUCH more functional - and safer).

  74. Alexis Vallance

    It makes no sense

    How exactly would MS lose out if they scrapped the whole stupid system?

    XP is easy to pirate. Anybody can torrent it and a crack to go with it.

    Vista is easy to pirate. Anybody can torrent it and a crack to go with it.

    Nobody out there thinks, oh I'll have to buy a copy because I can't get past the activation protection.

    You either buy it or you pirate it. What pathetic hurdles MS try to put in your way are merely pushed aside.

    MS always like to bring up the fairly unbelievable scenario of some innocent buying a machine and somehow having a dodgy version of the OS on it. Then they're shocked to discover this and MS takes them by the hand and kindly educates them how they're missing out by not having a Genuine (registered trade mark) version.

  75. Christopher A Newman

    For the love of God

    Why is it every bloody M$ article we have to get the infantile "I use Linux cos it's free and M$ is the devils own work" brigade jump in. If you have to use Linux then good for you but just stop jumping on every M$ article, it's not big it's not clever.

    I can only think that you have nothing better to do with your sad little blinkered lives........

    (Steps down from soapbox......)

    Thank you and goodnight

  76. Anonymous Coward


    "I just WISH Linux would have better support for windows games. If it did, I think we'd see more home users installing it on their primary PC's. I know I would.. I just can't be bothered setting up dualboot just so that I can play games."

    If the 'Penguins' could have fully supported any MS games some time ago, the foundations at the Redmond Castle would have started to crumble long ago too, and I suspect Vista would never have left the drawing board either.

    I just love my 'Aces' Flight Simulator X.

  77. John Bailey

    Another ex Windows user

    I jumped ship when the WGA check became compulsory a little over two years ago. I have a fully licensed copy, but I resent the implication that I have to prove over the phone to some twit in a call centre that I am allowed to use the software I bought.

    Linux for the past two years has been great. Rock solid, compatible with all my hardware, and a pleasure to use. It is also the closest I have got in recent years to the old geeky buzz i had in the 80s when I was typing in listings from magazines in my ZX81, and trying to learn how the program worked.

    With Fedora and WINE, I have wanted for nothing, as the remaining Windows apps I want to run are all pretty low end ones that work fine without an actual copy of Windows. The only exception is Sketchup, but that seems to be getting better support each WINE update. I miss games a bit, and researching my next hardware upgrade, but my favourite game works great on Linux, so it isn't a problem that is worth bothering with.

    I'll not deny, it was a bit of a challenge the first few weeks, there is still a learning curve, but once you get into the mindset, it is fairly straightforward. And once you learn how to use a different OS, you have options.. Choice.. you are not at the mercy of Microsoft's release cycle any more.

  78. Anonymous Coward

    Legitimate XP for Sale?

    So I get a new PC (sans vista of course!), slap on a fake, get offered a legitimate XP Licenece and Viola? I just bought XP pro.

    Or are they foisting Vista onto peeps with inapropriate computers?

  79. Mark

    re: For the love of God

    Hell, we'll stop when you do. Pop along to the gOS article and see people bash Linux because it doesn't work "as well" as Windows.

  80. Mark

    @Andy Worth

    Microsoft are a marketing company. They don't CARE about anything other than the bennies.

    Hence, M$.

    You still have the "S" shape but now allude to their overwhelming DEMAND that they get the money. All the money, preferably.

    If you're that thin skinned this annoys you, get off the internet. There's a lot worse out there.

  81. Mark

    re: Hah!

    "I just WISH Linux would have better support for windows games."


    "I wish games had better support for Linux".

    Doom3, RtCW, Q4, Unreal (plus TournamentXXXX) X, X2, X3 are all available for Linux. The X series by the herculean efforts of Icculous in porting to Linux, the others by being made compatible by the creators.

    The only reason they don't sell too well is because you have to search them out and they are only internet (and usually US only, so you have the 1$ == £1 exchange to deal with, as well as tax, duty, etc). Then again, have a look in the high street: windows games are disappearing FAST.

  82. Anonymous Coward

    welcome to my soapbox

    option 1 - i continue with my illegal use of M$ WinXP-pro until such time as they disable my code (and fuck up over 20,000 legitimate users when they do) - and then I'll just pick another code from my list of unregistered machines that were subsequently ghosted with the multi-install code that I currently use.

    option 2 - i continue with my illegal use of M$ WinXP-pro until WINE runs my games in X-Nix and then the dual boot system is no longer required either

    option 3 - i continue with my illegal use of M$ WinXP-pro until such time as M$ permits my 5 legitimte Win95 licences, 2 legitimate Win98 and 2 legitimate winXP-home licences to be used as valid MS OS licences and thus legimise me

    option 4 - i continue with my illegal use of MS WinXP-pro until such time as game developers make an X-Nix version for me to buy.

    option 5 - I start using my totally illegal copy of pre-coded, multi-install, all-version M$ Vespa (if ever we get reliable driver support)

    Whilst my soapbox implies, "phuk M$", I'd much prefer it to read, "Paris sat here". Anyone who has read the EULA knows that there is no such thing as a legal and legitimate Windows user.

  83. Anonymous Coward

    MS patches from third-parties? Why?

    I have used loads of different versions of XP over the years, both dodgy and genuine OEMs, can't say I have ever failed any tests or been unable to pick up patches directly from the MS servers. I even toyed with a knocked off Vista Premium for a while, downloaded SP1 from MS servers and installed it fine!

    A year ago my missus bought a brand new HP laptop, XP Home. Two days later WGA fails and refuses to play! Blasted it off, installed knocked off XP Home, no worries since.

    The only ones who lose out are the genuine customers, who have ponied up the do-ray-me to his satanic majesty, dear old Bill!

  84. Pete
    Gates Halo

    Linux Sucks, Windows forever.

    People are pirating XP and not using Linux because well, Linux is rubbish.

    Awful software, awful hardware compatability, awful usability.... just awful.

    Most people, me included, just want an OS that works and offers decent software to use. Linux offers neither of these. Last time I tried to install Ubuntu my network card didnt work, I had no acceleration on my video card and playing video was an utter nightmare.

    I fixed the network card issues (two lines were the wrong way around in some conf file) after a couple of hours of googling, I still can't get the video card drivers to play happy and the shitty software situation will never improve.

    I went back to Windows and got some work done.

  85. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    Better Than the Real Thing

    Whilst actually owning a real copy/license for Win XP pro, I find that the pirate versions are a lot less likely to come up as non-legitimate copies. I like to tinker with my PC and that means having to re-validate every time I change something except if it is a non-legitimate copy which doesn't give a rats ass what you do with your hardware and doesn't intrude on your life and make you jump through hoops. BTW how soon do you reckon there will be a WGA crack for MS's latest version? If it's not out there already, it can only be a matter of hours from when the latest restrictions, sorry upgrades are released

  86. Paul

    What a waste of time.

    Instead of wasting man-hours on this, why don't they spend them trying to fix the problems apparent in Vista? Or at least trying to make the next version of Windows a bit more palatable?

    Not that it really matters to me either way, but this does seem a lot like trying to prevent people using pirated WinXP when their only "genuine Windows" option becomes Vista.

    @Pete: "I went back to Windows and got some work done."

    Funny that. I ran far, far away from Windows, installed Linux and now I spend much more of my time getting work done instead of dealing with the threat of malware and having the OS constantly get in my way because "it knows better than I do". Now I can add "worrying that my OS may be arbitrarily shut down/crippled, probably when I most need to get work done" to the list of things I don't have to concern myself about any more.

    If I found myself having enough trouble with Linux to consider switching again, it certainly wouldn't be back to Windows. Microsoft have a lot of improvement to make to their product before I'd consider it as a serious option again.

    Besides, exactly what sort of cushy job did you land anyway if you need accelerated 3D and video to do your work? Only time I use those is when I'm goofing off... ;-)

    Linux doesn't offer decent software to use? That's news to me. I guess those thousands of useful things listed in my package manager are just figments of my imagination then?

  87. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Windows Genuine Dis-Advantage

    I used to live in a shared house, the girl upstairs had a legit, genuine laptop brought from her home countty, worked fine there, and here for 6 months or so, then WGA or its' equivalent kicked in and crippled the machine.

    Couldnt wipe it, as it had her data all stuck in the "My Docs" folder and no backup!

    Phoned M$, tried the 6 or so codes they gave going off the legitimate key on the laptops underside, nothing worked. After so many codes, they told me they couldnt help any further.

    Finally found a single URL link in the registration process, opened up IE, got to desktop, backed up data then shoved a pirate copy of XP Pro on it - worked fine ever since.

    Sad day when the pirate version is cheaper AND better than the real thing, and no... im not getting Vista. Ever. Despite being an avid gamer, id rather have 3.25Gb out of 4Gb of my shiny new Corsair DDR2!

  88. Anonymous Coward

    whiners, not doers

    If you really don't like it or had a real problem with Windows you would sot using Windows and stay off the Windows article comments. It just shows you can't live without Billy G's software. But unfortunetly it appears many of you get beat on in your real life and then take it out on MS or Apple or whoever in a comments section of an article with nothing constructive to so. You might as well get on a video game blog and argue which is better MS or Sony with the 10 year olds who don't know better.

    Only reason I even read the comments any more is there are still a handful of people who either say something with content or at least funny.

    Speaking of which don'get get me started on all the very lame PH icon jokes. It's been over used and no I wont' add a pun here.

  89. Anonymous Coward

    Places still selling XP (please don't moderate me this time?)

    In addtion to the already-mentioned ocuk, places still selling XP Home and XP Pro OEM **because it's what customers still want** include ebuyer and

    I'm convinced I wrote a comment yesterday with full details re product code nos, prices, support implications, etc yesterday but it never arrived, can't imagine why (maybe el reg prefer ocuk ;))... cba retryping the details, just go to ebuyer or scan and search for Windows XP Home OEM or XP Pro OEM. Prices start from under £60 for Home, and even XP Pro OEM costs less than the MS price for "make yourself genuine" or whatever it's called if WGA says NoGo.

    There are also folks who will still sell you a PC with XP pre-installed: Dabs and Dell to name but two.

    Also, re "I purchased an HP Pavilion, direct from HP, with an OEM copy of Windows XP Pro installed.": presumably you mean HP supplied XP Home and you installed XP Pro? I've done that too, from XP Home, and lots of folk are now upgrading their Pavilions from Vista according to the HP forums (which presumably means they are the ones which come with Vista Business or Ultimate or whatever is legitimately upgradeable to XP).

    On the other hand, if you mean HP supplied a Pavilion with XP Pro installed, and can quote a part number, I'd be quite surprised (sometimes I get surprises).

  90. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    "some innocent buying a machine "

    Happened to a neighbour here. A pensioner, new and naive with PCs and not initially realising the risks, he bought an XP PC at Cocks Moors Woods computer fairs (shortly before Trading Standards raids effectively closed them down [1]).

    Eventually WGA came along and said "your Windows is dodgy". I looked, and it was indeed dodgy. He dug out the paperwork and (1) the supplier had gone bust (2) the paperwork actually said "no Windows supplied". Obviously there was no WIndows CD or CoA so I phoned MS WGA line for him and asked whether what they supplied (for £100+) was guaranteed to recover without needing a complete reinstall (he'd installed loads of stuff) and from a very long way away over a very poor quality line they said yes of course it will, so it was paid for because it seemed to promise less hassle than re-installing off an XP Home OEM CD, which would have been more appropriate (than Pro) for a home user, and cheaper.

    CD turns up and in due course it turns out MS lied, it couldn't pass WGA without a a complete fresh install, and therefore £50+ had been wasted.

    The moral of the story: trust, but verify.


  91. Andus McCoatover
    Jobs Horns

    Love the spin!

    <...release balances our goals of providing a great experience to those who have genuine Windows and at the same time creating a compelling experience for those who have non-genuine copies to get genuine Windows>

    "compelling experience "


  92. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I just can't see the problem here

    Simply turn off the updates and invest in a good firewall and anti-virus package.

    Plenty of free ones out there that do the job as well as paid versions.

    How easy is that? So much for the WGA crap - defeated in a single post lol

  93. Mike Mclaren
    Thumb Up

    I hate waiting for new features

    I'll have to wait until Tuesday then reboot and start xp then update windows just so I can see the latest annoying feature then restart my puter into the operating system of my choice (Mandriva)

  94. Michael Nielsen

    linux and hardware support

    Bad hardware support has absolutely zero to do with linux, and 100% to do with the producer of the hardware not wanting to support any other OS than windows.

    There are some producers out there who won't look at anything but windows, but then chose a laptop based entirely on intel components, or research the components before you buy, and you have a huge chance that it works out of the box, because Intel tends to support linux.

    Wireless which is the most difficult to get to run properly on linux, can now be run via nidiswrappers, that allow you to load most windows drivers into an linux environment, however you do need to read a few HOWTOS to do so.

    Granted a few things could be easier on linux, but put it this way I remove a lot of those helper applications, as the control you loose, is worse than the help you get, (same can be said on windows).

    If you run an .exe program on most linux distributions, then wine will automatically start and emulate windows, linux is not far from being a full replacement for windows for all. My work machines have no direct windows installations, and hasn't for years, only my play machine has windows installed for games, however linux is not far from being able to run nearly all games, which is why DX10 is being rushed out..

  95. Law
    Paris Hilton

    RE: whiners, not doers

    Paris icon - because she has PMS days too! ;)

  96. Simon
    Thumb Up

    An out for Vista-rers

    @ Dave K.

    Even M$ have accepted that Vista is crap. I am not 100% sure about other parts of the wurld but here in South Africa we can phone M$ and tell them we are downgrading Vista Business or Ultimate to XP. We give them our Vista Key and they give us a shiny new one for Xp, just like that. Because I refuse to support Vista and most of my clients agree.

  97. J
    Thumb Up

    @Geoff Mackenzie

    "The same thought has often crossed my mind, but obviously MS can't go that way."

    Sure they won't, unless they are forced. I agree with all you said, but that just reinforces what I said. With forced release of source code for "obsolete", unsupported products, they (not just MS, but all software makers) would be forced to keep supporting their products until:

    a) going out of business, at which point it does not matter anyway;

    b) having a *really new* product, so releasing the old code is of no harm to them.

    Another way, not as good as releasing the sources, would be to compulsorily free the binaries instead. Would eliminate the incentive to innovate that forced release of the old code has, but would help somewhat. I mean, there are lots of legacy applications and hardware out there that need old OS to work. We have a couple cases in the lab, expensive stuff that can't be run any other way. If the old computer pops the clog or Windows rots (which it inevitably does), where do we buy Win 95? Not supported or sold anymore, so we should be licensed to download and use it for free.

    Of course, the best solution for such problems is still the GPL or something like that anyway, but horses for courses... ;-)

  98. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    Where to buy Windows XP

    If you can't find XP Home or XP Pro you're not trying very hard. Overclockers was already mentioned, here are a couple of others... some folks might want to look at Media Centre Edition instead but I can't remember where that fits in this picture, and it's not quite so easy to find (£76 at ebuyer)

    XP Home OEM : code 114048, allegedly in stock, £57 code LN16381, allegedly in stock, £54

    XP Pro OEM: code 132195, allegedly in stock, £89 code LN16382, allegedly in stock, £90

    And doubtless others too - whatever Billco might like their "channel partners" to do, some of them have the sense to carry on selling WHAT THE CUSTOMER WANTS, at least for the time being.

    Don't forget to buy some hardware too, as the MS OEM licence is (allegedly) only available to "system builders". Also bear in mind that the OEM licence doesn't include OS support from MS (does anyone ever benefit from MS OS support anyway?).

    For folks who want XP pre-installed on new hardware (with OS support from the hardware vendor), places like Dabs still have a selection of Windows XP systems, as do Dell, and probably others.

  99. Vincent

    XP unavailble?

    Have you people who are complaining that XP is unavilable for purchase ever looked on Amazon or eBuyer? It's there.

    I will agree that Windows is overpriced, but then I brought the OEM version to save myself a bit of cash rather than the Retail version.

    I think one of the reasons people get pirate copies of Windows is because they can't actually physically touch it. Nobody seems to like paying for Software.

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