Microsoft has made its Office Genuine Advantage anti-piracy scheme mandatory, six months after it was introduced as an optional pilot.
The new requirements mean Office users downloading templates from within 2007 Microsoft Office System applications will first have to validate their software. From January, using the Office updates service will also require software validation.
An optional Office Genuine Advantage validation scheme has been running as a pilot since April.
Microsoft said it would provide free copies of the productivity suite to those who had unknowingly acquired pirate versions of Office 2003 – provided that they filled in a counterfeit report, provided proof of purchase and sent in the counterfeit CDs. Those unable to provide the documentation would have to pay for a licence.
Office Genuine Advantage is an offshoot of Microsoft’s controversial Windows Genuine Advantage scheme. Users have criticised WGA, claiming that it is full of bugs and that it has activated pop-up windows claiming that they are running pirate versions of the software when they are not.
Microsoft is facing two major lawsuits over WGA alleging that it is a spyware program and that the software giant misled users by labelling it as a critical security update.