Later this year, Microsoft will require that Windows XP users participate in its Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) program to gain access to content through the company's Download Center and Windows Update. Should Redmond add new features to Internet Explorer, Media Player, or other Windows components, WGA validation may be required to download or install the updated software. In fact, Microsoft currently only offers access to its beta AntiSpyware software to validated Windows users.
Requiring Windows validation to gain access to new software may be an effective way to weed out casual pirates, but Microsoft won't be cutting off unverified copies of Windows completely. Those who don't participate in the WGA program will still have access to security-related patches through Windows XP automatic updates. One could argue that Microsoft would be well within its rights to deny unverified copies of Windows access to security fixes, but that would leave droves of insecure PCs vulnerable to becoming spam relays, denial-of-service zombies, or unwitting pawns in malicious attacks that could otherwise affect legitimate Windows users.
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