Microsoft supplies patches to pirates

A Microsoft security expert says the company will continue to supply free patches to users, even if they have pirated software.

George Stathakopoulos, general manager of Microsoft’s Trustworthy Computing group gave a confidential briefing to New Zealand computer users earlier this month on “Adapting to the Evolving Threat to Computer Security”.

Reporting restrictions were put on Stathakopoulos’s address and questions from members of the audience, because of the sensitivity of the security matters discussed.

However, in a subsquent discussion, Stathakopoulos outlined Microsoft's position after tha launch of its Office Genuine Advantage programme locally this month.

“Point number one: We want our money,” he says. “We worked hard on this [software]. So if you do have a pirated version of Windows, that’s not cool; give us some money.

“Number two: security updates are and will always be free, regardless of whether you have pirated or non-pirated software.”

There’s a good reason for this, he says; if there’s a fast-spreading infection like Blaster, a large population of unpatched pirate copies of the operating system will do no-one any good; neither Microsoft nor its legitimate users. So it is in the company’s interest to ensure all copies of Windows, legitimate or not, are patched.

“The plugin will simply check whether your software is pirated and will suggest a good way that you can pay us,” says Stathakopoulos.

Microsoft Genuine Advantage programmes use a dowloadable update to determine whether or software installed on a user's PC is genuine.

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