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Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Is 'Genuine Windows Validation' a Good Thing? - Part 2

Windows XP Professional

Microsoft announced it will require "genuine Windows validation" in mid-2005 for anyone running Windows XP or Windows 2000 Professional who attempts to download security patches manually. Users of other operating systems, and those who obtain security patches automatically via enabling Automatic Updates, will be exempt for now.

"Genuine Windows validation" involves determining whether or not the operating system has been purchased legally or not. The process, similar to Windows Activation, does not require the consumer to divulge private information to Microsoft.

Some of the media coverage about this speculates that preventing illegal copies of Windows from obtaining patches is going to make for a huge number of compromised systems. This idea is, to say the least, hilarious. It makes the assumption that someone running an illegal copy is more likely to get patches via manual downloads than Automatic Updates. I don't think so!

The problem is that most people don't get any updates at all, whether their installation is legal or not. I see no reason that Microsoft's shareholders should continue to allow illegal copies of Windows to run at all, but no doubt a large number of people who have such copies installed don't even know they've got an illegal OS in the first place.

They got it when they bought a cheap PC, or purchased the OS separately from a store that had bogus stock.

No doubt eventually Microsoft will make "genuine Windows validation" mandatory for all security updates, and no doubt there are some who fear that eventuality also. My response to that concern is equally simple -- get a legal copy before it happens. If withholding security updates makes for greater compliance with the law, then so be it.

Legal? How to tell. Click here.

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