Both legitimate and unlicensed users of Microsoft's XP operating system software will be able to download the Service Pack 2 security patch for free
Microsoft's increasing concern over information security has translated into its decision to bite the bullet and make its upcoming SP2 (Service Pack 2) security patch available to all users - including those using pirated copies of its Windows XP software.
"We haven't explicitly done anything to SP2 to exclude it from pirated copies," said Microsoft group product manager Barry Goffe. The United States-based executive was interviewed via telephone.
This is unlike SP1 (Service Pack 1), which had features to prevent users with pirated copies from downloading it. In SP2's case, the mammoth 80MB to 250MB patch can be downloaded and installed on computers running both legitimate and pirated copies.
Users can also request a free CD copy of SP2, although shipping charges could apply, something which the company has yet to finalise, said Mr Goffe.
"It was a tough choice, but we finally decided that even if someone has pirated copy of Windows, it is more important to keep him safe than it is to be concerned about the revenue issue," he added.
He admitted, however, that it is more than altruism that helped Microsoft come to this decision.
"Having these unsecured users means bigger worm and virus outbreaks - which also impacts the Internet and consequently, our legitimate users as well."