In contrast to Microsoft's expectations their "Windows Genuine Advantage" pilot program turned out to a big hit. The company was hoping 20,000 users would opt into the voluntary program, via which Microsoft checks whether customers are running pirated copies of Windows. A month later more than 828,000 users have opted in.
What led to the unexpected boon?
"People want to know if they are running genuine software," Lazar said. "And people really were interested to find out if there were any benefits for opting in."
Until Thursday, there were no tangible benefits to participating in the Microsoft Genuine Advantage program. But now, users who agree to participate in Microsoft's program will be offered up to $390 worth of software for free or reduced prices.
Microsoft is offering English-speaking Genuine Advantage participants a free copy of Photo Story 3 for Windows; five MSN Zone games for half price; a free trial version of its OneNote note-taking product; a free copy of the Microsoft Holiday Fun Pack; a hosted version of SharePoint for half-price; and a subscription to the Microsoft List Builder service for less than $10 a month.
Microsoft also will be expanding the Genuine Advantage pilot to include four languages in addition to English: Simplified Chinese (for PRC Singapore); Traditional Chinese (for Hong Kong); Norwegian; and Czech.