Is this XP user a thief or a customer?

A year after Microsoft assured this reader his copy of XP was legitimate, the company changed its mind

William didn't think he was buying a pirated copy of Windows XP Pro and he took the right measures to ensure that his copy was valid. Despite his best efforts, an illegitimate copy seems to be what he has.

"In April of 2007," he writes, "I bought a copy of Windows XP Pro from an online company. Always suspicious, I checked it out with Microsoft Genuine Advantage Tools, which pronounced it legal and legitimate. There were no qualifications, caveats or other warnings with the validation."

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All went well with this operating system for over a year. Then, one day, he got a message announcing his copy of XP was legal no more. "One week I have a legitimate copy and the next I don't," he says. "If Microsoft declared my copy legal in 2007, it should stay legal. Why is this such a wishy-washy situation? Now I can't get updates and if I have to reinstall the operating system, I won't be able to."

Naturally, William called Microsoft technical support to get this sorted out. "In a great show of magnanimity," he says, "Microsoft offered to sell me a kit to solve all my problems for $149. I was so frustrated that I felt like exploding in anger or sitting down and crying, all in the same phone call. The supervisor I talked to said she would file a customer complaint, but I expected more from Microsoft."

William is carrying on with his now-illegitimate version of XP Pro, but he is not happy about it. In fact, he feels he has been treated very shabbily.

"If they had asked for a nominal fee of $25," he says, "I would have ponied up to avoid the hassles and difficulties that are sure to come. At that price, I wouldn't have felt so violated by Microsoft's false validation of my copy of Windows XP Pro."

Got gripes? Send them to christina_tynan-wood@infoworld.com.

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