Windows Genuine Advantage

The Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) program is part of what Microsoft describes as its on-going effort to protect its customers and partners from counterfeit software, and increase customer awareness of the value of genuine Windows XP. Microsoft will ask users to validate their Windows when requesting a genuine Windows download from the Microsoft Download Center or Windows Update. To help customers who unknowingly purchased a counterfeit version of Windows XP, Microsoft has created two genuine Windows offers for those who qualify.

  • Complimentary offer: Microsoft will make a complimentary copy of Windows XP available to customers that have been sold counterfeit Windows. Customers will be required to submit a proof of purchase, their counterfeit CD, and complete a counterfeit report with details of their purchase. Only “high-quality” counterfeit Windows will qualify for the complimentary offer.
  • Electronic Key Offer: Microsoft will offer an alternative for customers who find out via the WGA validation process that they are not running genuine Windows, but do not qualify for, or choose not to take the complimentary offer. These customers will be able to license a Windows Genuine Advantage Kit for Windows XP online for a price of $99 for Windows XP Home edition or $149 for Windows XP Professional. The Windows Genuine Advantage Kit for Windows XP will include a new 25-character Product Key and a Windows Product Key Update tool that will enable customers to convert their counterfeit copy to genuine Windows XP electronically. To qualify, customers will be required to submit an on-line counterfeit report.

WGA validation is required for all genuine Windows downloads on Microsoft Download Center and the Windows Update service for users of Windows XP and Windows 2000 (client, not server). Security updates are accessible to all users via Automatic Updates. Genuine Windows downloads are available, without validation, to customers running Windows 98, Windows ME, Windows Server 2003, and Windows NT 4.0 with Service Pack 3. Genuine Windows downloads are not available for older versions of Windows (Windows 95, Windows NT 4.0 with Service Pack 2 and earlier), and non-Microsoft operating systems.

Vangie Beal
Vangie Beal is a freelance business and technology writer covering Internet technologies and online business since the late '90s.

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