Microsoft Corp. is pulling back from a system that disables programs on users’ computers if it suspects the software is pirated, opting instead for a gentler approach based on nagging alerts.
Microsoft said late Monday it will roll out the new version of Windows Genuine Advantage with the first “service pack” for Windows Vista, due in the first quarter of 2008.
When computer users activate a copy of Windows Vista or try to download certain software from Microsoft’s Web site, the Windows Genuine Advantage system scans their PCs for signs of pirated software. Today, if the tool finds an unauthorized copy of Vista, the glassy Vista user experience disappears and other features are suspended.
In the new version, PC users found to have a pirated copy of Vista will continue to be able to use their computers, but with unmistakable signs their operating system is a fake. The desktop wallpaper will turn black, and a white notice will appear alerting users to the problem. Each time they log in, they will be prompted to buy legitimate software, and every hour, a reminder bubble will appear on the screen.
Users with a high tolerance for irritation can put off switching to genuine software indefinitely, but those who relent and buy a real copy of Windows can do so at reduced prices - $119 for Windows Vista Home Premium, half the regular retail price.