Hard disk loading is the practice of loading unlicensed software onto a computer which is then sold to an unsuspecting consumer. The purchaser usually has no idea that the software on the computer was pirated until a method like Windows Genuine Advantage exposes it as counterfeit.
"We want to make it clear to people who try to profit illegally," said Microsoft senior attorney Mary Jo Schrade. "Microsoft is determined to protect its intellectual property, while also helping protect consumers and honest resellers from the deceptive and dangerous practices of counterfeiting and hard-disk loading."
Microsoft also released details of a forensic analysis of counterfeited versions of Windows XP across 17 states. The study found that risks exist for consumers in using counterfeited software. One in three discs could not be installed on a computer, and 43 percent contained code not originally part of Microsoft Windows.
This tampered code could put users at risk for denial-of-service attacks, bypass of password protection and application memory corruption.
"Counterfeit software is big business worldwide," Schrade said. "As this research highlights, consumers and businesses need to make informed choices when purchasing software or risk the possible consequences of using counterfeit software."