People running Windows software will now need to provide a licence key before they can download any free Microsoft software.
Through Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA), Microsoft's anti-software-counterfeiting programme, users will need to prove their software is authentic by running an applet downloaded from the MicrosoftÊ website, which checks the licence keys.
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Users found toÊbe running invalid licences will need to buy a legitimate copy ofÊWindows XP before they can download any Microsoft software.
Janet Gibbons, Windows product marketing manager at Microsoft, said the operating system will be discounted and will cost £91 for Windows XP Professional.
Users found to be running counterfeit software who are prepared to complete an online anti-piracy form and ship the pirated software back to Microsoft will receive a free copy of Windows XP Service Pack 2, she said.