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Microsoft to block updates for pirate Office users

By Stan Beer
Friday, 28 April 2006

Microsoft plans to block downloads of software updates for users of pirated versions of its Office suite instead of nagging them with alerts. However, if you're lucky enough to be an English language user, the whole validation process will be voluntary for the present.

Recently, iTWire reported that the success of the Windows Genuine Advantage program (WGA). Under this program, users of pirated versions of Windows are harassed with continual alerts after downloading security updates. This has led Microsoft to introduce a similar pilot anti-piracy program for Office.

The Office anti-piracy program, called Office Genuine Advantage (OGA), is currently under pilot in seven non-English speaking countries.Microsoft went out of its way to notify iTWire that it will not be using the alerts system for pirate Office users.

Instead, Microsoft says Office users will need to validate their software in order to download updates. Microsoft issues critical updates on a regular basis. These are necessary to stop potential malware purveyors from exploiting security holes.Blocking software updates, however, is problematic for Microsoft. It may open the way for an increased spread of malware through unprotected machines with pirated versions of Office.

According to Microsoft, OGA is still just a pilot and is currently opt-in for English language users. A spokesman for the company emailed us:"We need to clarify that the Office Genuine Advantage initiative is a pilot with an opt-in for English and there are no plans to have notifications for non-genuine users."
According to Microsoft:

"The OGA program is an extension of the Genuine Advantage concept first implemented for Windows via the Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) program to Microsoft Office. After the launch of this pilot, customers of Microsoft Office who validate that their copy of Office is genuine will be able to access free downloads from the Microsoft Download Center. Validation will be required in seven languages and will be by opt-in for English.

"OGA is designed to increase end user awareness and preference for genuine Microsoft Office software by highlighting the value of genuine software over counterfeit or pirated versions.

"OGA will be piloted in seven languages: Korean, Simplified Chinese, Spanish, Brazilian Portuguese, Russian, Czech and Greek. During the pilot for these languages, end users will be asked to validate that their Office software is genuine before accessing identified Download Center content.

"English-language users will be asked to voluntarily validate that their Office software is genuine before being able to access this content.

"Customers purchasing Microsoft Office pre-installed on their PC will not be required to enter their product key.

"Microsoft's partners have already been extremely supportive of WGA because it helps honest partners compete against Windows piracy and they have been requesting Microsoft to extend the program to Microsoft Office. With the launch of the OGA pilot, we hope to create awareness and demand for genuine Office and build a more level playing field for honest channel partners who will now be able to demonstrate the difference."

And for lucky Australia users:

"You should also note that no plans have been announced for an Australian roll-out for the OGA program."
Microsoft to block updates for pirate Office users - Thursday, April 27, 2006 -

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