Counterfeit Windows XP leaves owner hanging

The Baltimore Sun

I tried to download some updates from Microsoft for Windows XP and received a message that said my Windows XP has been stolen and a counterfeit Windows is now on my computer. I have been having some problems since this happened. Is this a ploy just to sell me a new copy or has someone really stolen my Windows XP?

- Jean Pender

I don't think anyone stole your Windows. I do think the copy of Windows you have was counterfeit from the beginning. The checking done online is a relatively new system created by Microsoft to detect counterfeit software. In every case I know, the software was bad from the start - no one steals a legitimate copy and substitutes a counterfeit one.

Usually I would recommend that you contact the retailer that sold the computer. But with the time that has passed, that would be a tough road. You also should contact Microsoft at 1-800-RU-LEGIT, a number used only to deal with counterfeit software. I seriously doubt you'll get a free replacement copy. But give Microsoft a call anyway. Your only option may be to buy new software.

I have a computer running Windows 98 version 2 with 256 megabytes of RAM. When I visit video sites I have problems with the video and audio. What could solve this problem?

- Alfred Chappell

To enjoy video sites, you'll need a more powerful computer and a new operating system. I'm afraid your version of Windows, and probably your PC, just weren't made for such a newfangled notion.

We want to purchase a new computer. After researching, we cannot agree on whether we need Vista. We agree on having the Core Duo 2 and 1 gigabyte of RAM, etc. We already have an older computer running Windows XP. We do photos and create music CDs. My argument: Buy what we need, which is less expensive. My husband's argument: Buy for the future. He is concerned new software may be created for Vista, and we would have wasted our money on a second computer running XP.

- Pat Eubank

Hey Pat, I'll side with your husband on this one. If you wait to be forced to buy Vista, you'll end up paying $200 or so. Getting a new PC with Vista installed will save you the hassles of installing it and you'll essentially get Vista for free. So that's like a $200 discount on the new computer.

Bill Husted writes for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

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