Microsoft offers small-business promotions

Small businesses can receive free promotions from Microsoft if they verify their Windows software is genuine

Microsoft is offering small businesses promotions for free software trials and business tools, as long as they are willing to ensure that they are running genuine copies of Windows.

At its Small Business Summit Monday, Microsoft said that small businesses that take part in the Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) program can receive a seven-day free trial of business credit-report checks and a six-month trial of Microsoft Office OneNote 2003.

Microsoft is offering the credit-report service through a Credit.net service that lets businesses quickly check the credit of vendors they are looking to do business with, the company said. Microsoft Office OneNote 2003 is note-taking software that includes a voice-recording function so users can ensure they take accurate meeting notes.

Small businesses also have access to free downloads to Microsoft Windows Defender, Microsoft Baseline Security Analyzer V2.0, Microsoft Software Inventory Analyzer and Photo Story 3 for Windows through WGA, Microsoft said.

To qualify for the promotions, small businesses must verify through the WGA program that their version of Windows 2000 or Windows XP. To do this, they can visit Microsoft's Web site and run the verification check. Details of the program's promotions also are available.

Microsoft launched the WGA program in July 2005 to prevent people from running counterfeit or pirated copies of its software. The program met with mixed reviews from users, especially because Microsoft required users to do the verifications if they wanted to use its update services. The company caused even more controversy when it built verification directly into Windows Vista.

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