New Windows refurbisher program fights piracy, Linux

Microsoft Corp. on Friday introduced a new pilot program to encourage refurbishers to install legitimate copies of Windows XP on used PCs.

The new Microsoft Authorized Refurbisher (MAR) program offers a discount off the retail price of Windows XP, along with deployment tools to help refurbishers reinstall Windows and all of the relevant drivers on renewed PCs in as little as 15 minutes, said Hani Shakeel, senior product manager of the genuine Windows product marketing team.

Some resellers "are saying, 'We're just going to ship this stuff out with Ubuntu Linux,'" said Adam Braunstein, an analyst with the Robert Frances Group.

Braunstein estimates that for now, no more than one in ten refurbished PCs goes back out for sale sporting Linux rather than Windows. But Microsoft is worried.

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