updated 11/26/2004 5:39:45 PM ET 2004-11-26T22:39:45

Owners of pirated copies of Microsoft Corp.'s Windows XP operating system can trade them in for the real thing as part of a bid by the software giant to fight counterfeiting.

Microsoft said the deal, open only to residents of Britain, would help it fight the proliferation of "high-quality counterfeit versions" of its software.

(MSNBC is a Microsoft - NBC joint venture.)

The company said users unsure of the legitimacy of their Windows XP software could submit it to Microsoft for analysis, along with sales receipts and other documentation. Software found to be counterfeit will be replaced.

Microsoft said the project would help it gather intelligence on counterfeiting and "work with the authorities to act decisively against illegal traders."

The offer is open until Dec. 31 and applies to pre-installed versions of Windows XP bought before Nov. 1. It is limited to five submissions per person.

Microsoft said no decision had been made on whether to extend the exchange scheme to the United States or other territories.

Copyright 2004 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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