By Jimmy Daniels of Windows Tips
Contributing Writer, RealTechNews

I swiped this title from a comment on the Tech Blog at the Houston Chronicle.

Microsoft this week has begun updating its WGA piracy “tool” for Windows XP, available for download here if you are feeling lucky. Why would they update the tool for XP, which is no longer available for purchase, even though you can still get it from some computer manufacturers? (I believe it was mainly on business computers, such as the ones sold by Dell SMB, but, I haven’t looked in awhile to know for sure.) The only reason I can come up with is maybe Microsoft is expecting users to install some of their copies of XP on multiple computers or are looking for pirated versions online so they don’t have to use the latest version of Windows, Vista. Another reason would be to get more people using Vista and off of XP, whether by accident or because it’s a pirated copy, it probably won’t matter too much to Microsoft.

This time around they are limiting it to the most pirated version of XP, Windows XP Professional, and other versions based on that code, such as the Tablet and Windows Media Center editions, so if you are using a pirated copy of the Home edition, you are in the clear. ;) This should give a boost to pirated copies of the Home version, as their was really no reason to get it over the professional version before. A copy of XP that has been flagged as non-genuine will have the desktop background changed every 60 minutes, a watermark above the system tray, the pre-logon message, the logon interrupt message and the messages that appear from the system tray. They do say that we want it, even though many people had trouble with WGA when it first came out.

One is that in recent research, customers (particularly the ones using genuine software – or at least that think they are) have told us that they would prefer the simplest, shortest way of installing. Our research has clearly shown that customers value the ability of Windows to alert them when they may have software that is not genuine, but they also want the ability to stay up to date with the least effort required on their part. Source: Windows Genuine Advantage Blog

We Say: This is surely only for the less technical Windows XP “pirate” or someone trying to install XP on multiple machines, as most advanced “pirates” probably have automatic updates turned off, or set so they can choose which updates to install. This, like all DRM issues, affect everyone and not just the pirated copies, as seen by looking at the Windows XP Genuine Advantage Validation Issues Forum at Microsoft and by the post I linked to from Ed Bott who guestimated that 42% of the users with issues had genuine copies of XP. The least likely affected are the pirates themselves and this will surely result in some “extra” sales of Vista from people who don’t know how to resolve it. Someone has already made a background image for people, here, in case you are looking to mess with your co-workers and give them the Black Desktop of Death. It will be interesting to see where this file is located in Windows and how easy it is to change it.

Anyone seeing any false positives yet?