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XP piracy rates drop thanks to campaign and WGA

Written by Ben Reid @ 19 Oct 2006 11:46 User comments (42)

XP piracy rates drop thanks to campaign and WGA Microsoft Corp.'s latest tactic against those pirating its software in the U.K. appears to be paying off, and has reduced the piracy rate sooner than expected.
The software maker's "Keep IT Real" programme, which it first launched back in February, has seen piracy rate for its Windows XP operating system drop from 16.7 percent to 12.4 percent according to its head of antipiracy for the U.K., Michala Alexander. "We were really pleased to see the rate dropping so quickly," she said.

Microsoft had originally hoped to reduce the rate to 11.7 percent within three years of starting the campaign -- in which members of the company's anti-piracy team visit computer retailers and PC building outlets accross the U.K. inquiring about piracy issues -- but now aims to hit that goal by next February.

Microsoft also credits its Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) program for the piracy decline. The much criticized "phone home" technique, which checks with the company's servers to see if the OS copy is legitimate, appears to be working.

Microsoft will turn its sights now on pirated copies of its Office application, Alexander said. Up to 33 percent of the copies of Office are not authorized software, with copies often casually shared between friends. The company now uses a WGA-like tool which checks to see if copies of Office are legitimate. About 1 million people in the U.K. have been checked so far.


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42 user comments

119.10.2006 12:00

It's about time they've reduced the piracy in XP machines. Now, if only they could put a stop to the holes they put in all their machines...

219.10.2006 12:04

Oh please! Do they honestly think that they are looking to win this battle...sure hope not. Not to mention, who doesn't have a copy of WinXP and can even get an open one. Ah...I remember when the WGA had a work around the same day that it launched. Was pretty funny. As far as their trying to get pirated copies of Office taken care of...good luck with that one.

319.10.2006 13:16

Every time they put out a new WGA, it's cracked within a day.. I've had more customers with illegal versions of XP than legal ones so far, so who are they kidding here ? Those numbers cannot be correct.

419.10.2006 13:43

Well, there's an interesting problem there. A majority of the users with pirated copies (a majority, no all of them) don't even realize that it's pirated. A lot of times, small computer shops or independent computer repair people will install these pirate copies of windows and office, without the user being aware they are illegal. Some of them will charge customer after customer after customer for the same copy that he downloaded illegally. And it messes over the end user who in many cases, has no idea. Fortunately, M$' WGA technology doesn't seem all too interested in necessarily *tracking down* pirated copies; because really there are a lot of people who have no idea; instead it seems geared at simply disabling updates and patches. That's an interesting approach. It's rather interesting how that works. In fact, in the past M$ has been willing to replace illegitimate software keys for users who have been sold fake products, in return for information on where they got it. I don't know how much they can really do with the information, but it seems like a good way to make people aware of piracy around them. I'm hoping they keep the same attitude, it's a positive way to make strides in this issue; and it doesn't penalize the innocent victims, as some other software houses have before. If I buy a new computer, I don't want to get slapped with a fine, because the technicians didn't use a genuinely authentic windows key. But on the other hand, they're selling me a bundle of illegal goods as though they are authentic, I don't mind if M$ goes in and shuts them down.

519.10.2006 14:14


619.10.2006 15:25

hahaha this is halerious. first of all, they only surveyed the Uk second, when the wga is updated, a couple of hours later the update is cracked. so obviously M$ thinks they are going to win when in reality there are programmers out there that can hand Microsoft's ass to them. It the same with all the psp that Sony makes. they think they can update the firmware and the thing gets hacked. So M$ can start worrying about Vista as it will too be on the internet and get hacked

719.10.2006 16:53

hehhe, their will always be someone/people who will figure a way around this stuff.

819.10.2006 19:10

didnt stop me :)

919.10.2006 19:37

Are you implying something their? :p

1019.10.2006 20:14

Legitimacy? Drop in piracy? That's not what I see. All I see is a company falsely accusing its own user-base of "pirating" their own legally and legitimately purchased version of windows. When you have to call up some "MS rep" half way across the world to "verify" that you are using your own copy of windows legally and legitimately just to repair your intallation, someone's going to get pissed. *Re-reads WinXP license agreement, then looks at Win Vista's license agreement.* That's it. Games or no games, I'm switching to Linux.

1119.10.2006 20:36

and lets not forget that MS also considers MS Authentic Software on Authentic CD's as illegal if they are not sold in the manner that MS wants them to be sold in (based upon license agreements as well). This means that they consider a legit copy of some OEM surplus (but unused!) Discs sold as 'CD Only' or 'White Box' as illegal software! They even state that authentic RETAIL MS software ONLY comes in an origional MS box with all papers adn booklets and if it comes otherwise then it is NOT legit. Nevermind that the PID is authentic and never has been used. Nevermind that the disc and PID were BOTH purchased from an authorized MS dealer....

1219.10.2006 23:01

yeah, WGA forced me back into win2k, until i found out my school offers free XP pro, WGA and all!

1320.10.2006 0:35

the only problem with this is there is a new windows activation crack that dosen't mess with winlogon it messes with another system file and thw wga is bull because hackers have cracked the plugin as well

1420.10.2006 2:03

handsom I have installed SP1 with WGA and SP2 with WGA on 4 machines for friends and family.....3 of them I had to call in to MS in oder to get a install code to shut WGA up,WGA is very anti consumer and god forbid you use XP to test hardware and such because it whines to MS after 2 or 3 have been replaced or installed. Its gotten to the point where I simply don't use anything but SP1 with no WGA I refuse to touch SP1 WGA is ad/spy ware you cant get rid off... tabletpc witch dose not work on SP2,they update SP2 and keep keep it squirmy enough as to where it can LOCK the PC at any time forcing safe mode only and vista is going to have LESSER safe mode,basically until they stop actively fcking with WGA I will not update from SP1. The_Fiend yes and no,because when WGA fails it locks the system down into safe made and sometimes removes net access,the cracks are as bad as WGA itself and in the end pointless. duckNrun and they wonder why people circumvent the pleasure of paying 100-200 for a OS that constantly fcks with you.

1520.10.2006 3:53

Does this mean that more people have bought a real Xp or just stop useing it?

1620.10.2006 7:49

Lol. I actually thought about that just after I posted, and got a quick laugh out of it: Since there's no mention of a 4% or so rise in profits from this, as I'm sure they would consider that a worthy bit of information to tell the press. I can see them scratching their heads right now trying to figure out what's going on with their sales. It means a massive move towards linux is underway, and, them, stuck in their greed and "intellectual copyrights" crusade, are either absolutely oblivious to what is really going on, or shaking in their shoes. (I would guess the former.) They're losing their install base to another "competitor". (Note: Don't take this post too seriously. This is obviously high speculation on my part, but it does make you wonder, and it's clear what my decision was from my last post.) Take it to the man where it hurts most: his wallet.

1720.10.2006 8:25

My XP Pro is jacked from internet and it worked FLAWLESSLY for years ................. up until of course MS did that "you ain't gettin' no updates of your choosin" which in turn was circumvented by the WGA crack where you just paste the javascript 'no check' thing into the URL and then MS beat that and then I just grabbed a volume license key from my job as a consultant and now VOILA! I'm legal. HA HA HA HA HA HA HA If there is one thing for certain and RIGHTFULLY SO.....Just as a cook of a restaurant should get his food for free because he's cookin' it......................IT peeps get their sh*t for free because we have the intelligence and know-how to do it. Besides.......who do the end-users rely on when there's a problem..........ME, US, Information Technology pros. WE ARE THE COOKS OF THE INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY RESTAURANT! HA HA HA

1820.10.2006 10:02

First of all, these are MYSTICAL numbers they have conveniently come up with and all they are really trying to do here is make it seem that their new methods are working else the people who came up with the new scheme would be out of a job. Second, most legitimate resellers would not put illegal copies of Windows on customer’s machines unless they want to go to jail anytime soon. Maybe if we are talking China would that happen on a grand scale but not in the US unless it is to friends. You may buy a used PC with illegal software on it but again not from a reparable dealer. Third, you can still use XP SP2 as long as you strip out the WGA updates, there is only a couple, all of the security and recommended updates will work fine and not cause you problems. These updates can be obtained from several sites on the internet, you do not have to go to Microsoft to get them.

1920.10.2006 10:04

i'm not so sure that silicon soup sounds too tasty... ;-)

2020.10.2006 14:42

Mr-Movies MS gets its numbers from the mafiaa ^^

2120.10.2006 16:02

I want to join the mafiaa. Where do I sign up?

2220.10.2006 16:06

I don't think the RIAA is taking in new thugs and henchmen.

Copyright infringement is nothing more than civil disobedience to a bad set of laws. Lets renegotiate them.

Check out my crappy creations

2320.10.2006 16:53

I to have XP PRO I err picked up off the net( wont run through Windows Update), havent had any problems with updates at all, automatic updates downloads them and i choose what it installs so no WGA crap. More than likely the decrease in piracy is more people are now aware of WGA so they dont bother with Windows Update and just get updates how i do.

2420.10.2006 17:08

Andrew691 lucky you,BTW if its SP1 windows update and automatic updates wil end this year. they will then starting forcing you to SP2....

2520.10.2006 21:47

Yeah it has SP2 slipstreamed into it so all is good for now.

2620.10.2006 22:13

bah I ahte SP1 for other reasons so I would rather not :P

2721.10.2006 14:59

Some interesting comments, I went back to 98se for a brief perd messed around with linux to no avail , put xp on my desktop switched off upodates in msconfig and installed bigfix which gave me some of the main critical patches , installed surf anonymizer to hopefully effectively hide a wee bit! whilst surfing and installed the latest AVG 7.5 and a few other progs to protect my pc , I found out a program exists called autopatcher which may be of interest to you all , but im no teckie just a beginner but it apparently gets you all the pathes you need but uses bit torrent summat I know little about. I do know that wga aint coming on my pc not ever, incidently there was a good article in micromart magazine about good old ms plans with media player 11 you would all be wise not to install this either , that is if you want to keep control of your video and audio downloads and not have to ask their permission to get licenses back for stuff youve downloaded, also they want to tell you i believe what you can and cant do with audio files youve created yourself It beggars belief!!

2821.10.2006 15:05

nigeljkuk 98se is not that bad I ran it for years with teh right patches and right programs and hardware it can run as good or better than XP but XPSP1 is a bit easier to handled even tho tis has higher reqs,Lunix is tricker but about even with XPSP1 on everything but games.

2921.10.2006 15:52

There is a downloadable PS2 online, so you dont have to worry about it.

All About F*cking The MPAA&RIAA Over!

3021.10.2006 16:03

Not too much of a problem here yet,even after I got hit with the WGA thing I just replaced the files and then turned on automatic updates. I only get the critical updates,but that's all I need really. Just have it ask you to aprove the install of the updates and refuse the WGA one out of the list and it shouldbe good. At least it is for me.

3121.10.2006 17:17

What amazes me about all this is the fact they gloat about this. When as a matter of fact. This will just intice the people out there to keep working at it too make the thing soo cracked that Microsoft hast to comletley change the engine again.

3221.10.2006 17:27

There will always be ways around all things thanks to wonderful programmers out there. As far as XP and Office go there are now some good alternatives which are getting better all of the time. Try UBUNTU for a OS and Open Office instead of MS Office. We have choices dont let MS tell you what and how to run your computer. Plus the idiots dont realize that people will just not update if they have no choice and virus's will run rampant thru the net - Good job MS

3321.10.2006 20:40

Over here, the majority of PC offerings comes with Linux out-the-box due price competition on PC marketplace, leaving the buyer the option to buy and install the OEM version of Windows XP Pro or Home. The low entry PC price is US$400 and the Windows XP Pro is US$325 leaving a 55%/45% HW/SW ratio (not considering Office and others). Let's assume with Vista some day this phone-home technics really works and people (not Enterprises) end up with ONLY 3 options: Pay US$325 for Vista or Linux or Pirated-XP. What people will choose ? I guess 33% each.

3422.10.2006 5:29

You really don't own the software when you buy it. Read the license agreement. After reading Vista's license agreement, I'm switching to Apple. ;^)

3522.10.2006 10:36

After 'trying' XP Pro for quite a while, I finally bought the on-line 'update to genuine' from M$. First thing they did to thank me for my $149 was disable 'Office XP', remove 'DVD43', eliminate the speelchecker from Outlook Express (which uses the Office XP dictionary) and only 'they' know what else. I reached my limit though when the Auto Update installed something which required a reboot and, since I wasn't around, just went ahead and rebooted without my permission. This halted the computer at the login screen. Glad that M$ was sure I was not doing anything critical when they shut me down! I think Billy left just in time.

3622.10.2006 10:50

MS and the media mafiaa do not belive in fair use it is thier toy and they are free to bash your head in when others are not looking.

3722.10.2006 12:53

Thanks MS! All your anti piracy crap and cluttering up the hdd with updates has meant that I am now full time linux except for burning lightscribe discs. Their figures are crap. A simple serial generator and a registry fix will get your illegal xp up and running, even with auto updates. Most people don't even bother with updating from M$ but get it from other update sources (one prog was already mentioned). I object to paying money for a product that is so flawed it needs fixes almost every day and still won't run day in day out. I also object to paying money for a product which turns out to be only leased to me. If M$ were Volkswagen, do you think they'd still be in business with such a product. If xp were a car you'd have to put it in for a service every month and whenever you put in a new component it wouldn't start. Every time you went on a long journey it would stall and it would tell the manufacturer where you were. Hmmm! They have had the monopoly too long. I think people are going to move over in droves to OSX and linux. Isn't there a new linux flavour that runs like windows for all the noobs from windows?

3822.10.2006 18:23

If you need to use Microsoft Update - STOP !! Go to and will be surprised to find a nifty but totally free downloadable file which you can burn to CD and update your Windows software to the latest updates and security fixes. You don't need to go to microsoft for updates any more when you can use this free software that has no warnings and lockouts.

3923.10.2006 3:40

Love it Zippy "MS gets its numbers from the mafiaa ^^" too funny.... I've Never used AutoPatcher looks a lot like WPI installer pretty cool, remember though you DON'T need/want WGA updates at least yet. MS is trying to force everyone to install WGA and are working on this right now. I think there will still be away around it when they come up with their final scheme. Nice site minipod1 good post.

4023.10.2006 9:33

As someone else wrote in another article...on this site...u can do updates at U just don't use Internet Explorer. Before u do your updates....hit the details button. You might be surpised at what kind of information is passed to the one who supplies the updates. Most programs with serial numbers are in this file. I realize they need to the check your registry to determine what updates u need, but they really don't need the sn. Kind of scary really. has worked for me for sometime now. No WGA crap

4127.10.2006 10:51

These are just statistics. Statistics are useless, you can make them say whatever you need them to say. More likely, people are wising up and not letting THE MAN know that they have a copy.

4227.9.2010 10:45

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