According to reports, Microsoft's Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) program for Microsoft Office, titled the 'Office Genuine Advantage' (OGA) program that has been in beta-testing for several months, has now become mandatory.
The company says that the OGA program will now be "switched on for all" with no choice to "opt out" of the validation process, the way it was all through the beta testing phase.
As of October 27 last week, anyone using a pirated version of Office will no longer be able to download Office templates or other Office downloads, while those using Office Online templates will now require validation.
And from January 2007, pirated Office users will no longer be able to check for and download Office updates. The ability to download updates will require verification, beginning January.
Microsoft says it will continue to provide a complimentary copy of Microsoft Office to help qualifying customers, who have unknowingly acquired counterfeit versions of Microsoft Office 2003. But even for this, users will be required to fill out a counterfeit report, provide proof of purchase, and send in their counterfeit CDs to verify their entitlement to a free replacement copy of Office.
Those customers who have unknowingly acquired a counterfeit version of Office, but cannot provide the necessary details will be required to cough-up a license fee. And, this fee will be to the tune of $359 (Rs 16,155) for the Office Genuine Advantage kit for Microsoft Office Professional Edition 2003; $269 (Rs 12,105) for the Microsoft Office Small Business Edition 2003; and $139 (Rs 6,255) for the Microsoft Office Student and Teacher Edition 2003. The offer starts next month.
Meanwhile, Microsoft is now in a position to check whether one's copy is genuine or not, thanks to the proliferation of the Internet and Broadband.