Microsoft's anti-piracy tool, aka Windows Genuine Advantage, launched in 30 months ago in 2005. Since then, 512 million have tried to validate their copy of Windows and 114 million users, or 22.3%, were labeled by Microsoft as pirates. Up to 2.6 million users may have been, however, mistakenly labelled as software thieves. Research done by the Business Software Alliance, an industry group dedicated to combating piracy, puts the global piracy rate at 35%. The reason for the difference is undoubtedly the fact that most pirates avoid using WGA.
Of the 114 million told they were running phony Windows, only 56,000 filed a counterfeit report, a requirement before Microsoft will issue a free or reduced-price copy of the operating system. "That [56,000] is a very good number, and gives us a huge amount of data," said David Lazar, the director of Microsoft's Genuine Windows. Microsoft uses these reports to spot dodgy system builders or patterns in piracy.
Lazar also acknowledged that the "false positive" rate has been a burden to users and Microsoft. He emphasized that this rate was "less than half a percent" and a November enhancement should cut that number down even more. Brand systems used to generate validation errors as counterfeit but are now categorized as "unable to complete validation." Users of those PCs do not see the nag notices.