Microsoft fights against piracy limiting access to patches

&to=http:// ' target=_blank>Microsoft stepped up its fight against software piracy yesterday, announcing that only users of valid copies of the Windows PC operating system would be able to receive updates and security "patches" for their software.

The change, to take effect in the second half of this year, reflects an ironic benefit to Microsoft from the many vulnerabilities that &to=http:// ' target=_blank>virus writers and other hackers have found in the Windows code.

Since software "repairs" are only available via downloads from Microsoft's website, the company will be able to limit access to the new software to authorised Windows users, writes the Financial Times.

According to the Computer Weekly, invalid software licences has been a problem for users in the past, particularly when they have tried to obtain discounts on Microsoft volume licensing and ended up buying counterfeits rather than legitimate licence.

This is what happened in 2002 to Clackmannanshire Council in Scotland. When the council needed to extend its MS Select desktop licences a supplier offered extra licences more cheaply than were available under the Select agreement. The deal turned sour when an audit, done in co-operation with Microsoft, revealed that the new licences were counterfeit.

Through the validation process, users will be required to enter authentication details on the Microsoft website. According to Microsoft, users will be alerted if an invalidate licence is found.