Pirated or counterfeit software can put your computer at risk for viruses, spyware, and other kinds of unwanted software. This can happen in at least two different ways: Malicious software could be written into the code of the pirated software, or the software could prevent you from getting critical security updates that help keep your computer safe.

One of the newest ways that Microsoft is fighting software pirates is through optical disc "fingerprinting." Microsoft runs nine regional crime labs around the world, staffed by forensic experts. Each year, these experts evaluate more than a half-million pieces of evidence collected with the help of customer tips, formal complaints, and voluntary product submissions. Experts study ridges and grooves on counterfeit discs to trace them to known production facilities to track down the pirates.

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