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WGA = Data Mining RRS feed

  • Question

  • Hi, being fed up with being data mined, I've bumped up the security on my PC and even turned off all cookies on my browser.  A few web sites don't like it, no big loss.  I'm glad I have some control.

    I've noticed a lot of WGA updates lately and decided to have a closer look at what it's doing.  Turns out, according to the FAQ, that Microsoft is data mining with WGA:

    Information collected during validation
    Q: What information is collected from my computer?
    A: The genuine validation process will collect information about your system to determine if your Microsoft software is genuine. This process does not collect or send any information that can be used to identify you or contact you. The only information collected in the validation process is:

    • Windows product key
    • PC manufacturer
    • Operating System version
    • PID/SID
    • BIOS information (make, version, date)
    • BIOS MD5 Checksum
    • User locale (language setting for displaying Windows)
    • System locale (language version of the operating system)
    • Office product key (if validating Office)
    • Hard drive serial number

    Q: How does Microsoft use this information?
    A: The information serves three purposes:

    • It provides Web page flow, tailoring the pages you see based on your responses.
    • It conveys demographics, which help Microsoft to understand regional differences in Windows or Office usage.
    • It confirms user input. User input is often compared

    Saying that "this process does not collect information that can be used to identify you" is equivalent to taking down my car make, model, year, color, license plate, serial number, specs, etc., and saying it's not personal data.  But that's not even the point, what if I just don't feel like being data mined?

    Well, I'd like to opt out.  WGA confirms my license is valid, but I simply don't like the data mining process.  So what can I do to opt out?  Do I have any control whatsover?  Is my only option to stop using Windows?

    Wednesday, May 31, 2006 8:50 PM

Answers

  • First let me state that I am not a MS employee. I am a MS stockholder, and I am a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer.  My statements posted here are my own and in no way anything "official" from MS.  My overall MS technical knowledge and knowledge of the intricacies of MS software licensing, which could put understanding the DaVinci Code to shame () comes from 7 years of study and experience.  My technical knowledge of the latest iteration of WGA comes from some personal experience, from reading most of the posts on this board, and from asking the MS guys some questions.  Just clearing that up.

    BTW, I'm not sure how to intersperse comments into a quote on this particular message board system, so here goes (I'm in green):

     Adam Labrosse wrote:

    But you are confirming that, if we live in one of those locations, the only way to opt out of WGA's data mining is to opt out of all Windows Updates, critical or routine (and "nice-to-have" Windows downloads).  It really strikes me as odd that you consider that a viable option seeing the recent XP vulnerabilities exposed by simple web browsing.  It comes across as a polite: "if you don't like it, don't use it".

    Based on the above disclaimer, I cannot "confirm" anything, I can only relate my experience with WGA.

    Yes, I was trying to be polite and you are very correct if you interpreted what I wrote as "if you don't like it, don't use it" because that is pretty much it.  MS establishes the rules of how it wants to make its product available, and you as a consumer have the choice of accepting the terms or looking elsewhere for your needs to be met.  We make those decisions hundreds of times a week as consumers.

    Or are you saying that if I had not agreed to the WGA EULA, then it wouldn't run and I would still get all Microsoft updates fine?  Therefore I need to reformat and re-install XP and not agree to the WGA EULA and I'll be able to opt out?

    I can't say that I have tried this, but it does sound like it is a viable hypothesis.  If you read the EULA for the WGA notifications update, it does clearly state that it is "pre-release software" meaning it is a beta product and still has major bugs to be worked out.  Since I haven't tested it, I can't report to you that declining the EULA would necessarily result in being denied the option to get  updates manually at Windows/Microsoft update.  Perhaps the previous validation record stored on the computer would satisfy the requirements of the site.

    On the other hand after the horse is out of the barn, if you want to start over as you posit, would you be able to download the "old" WGA that does not do the notification thing, or has that been pulled so that when one is starting fresh the only WGA available is the new one tha does the notification thing?

    Just to make it clear: I don't care if WGA comes down from Microsoft and checks if I have a valid license since I do.  What I have an issue with is that it is actually spyware collecting data from my PC and sending it back to Microsoft.  And it is deceptively doing so by stating that it does not collect any personal information.  This centralized control by Microsoft is disconcerting and really drives home the importance of open source peer reviewed software and standards.

    Well this would all revolve around your defintion of spyware.  WGA certainly does keep track of your computer's hardware, but the mechanism of prduct activation has always had to keep track of hardware if it is to do its assigned task, which is to monitor a copy of XP if it travels from computer to computer.  I am loathe to quote EULAs since I can count on maybe two hands the number of them that I have read in a lifetime (), but the WGA EULA does spell out what it looks for, you just gotta read it.  It's also in the FAQ, as you excerpted in your first post.

    Dan, I appreciate your time and effort explaining this to me, but I am a little puzzled as to the indirect approach rather than a straight "no WGA = no Microsoft updates".  I assume you have ties to Microsoft.  Otherwise if I'm thick as butter I apologize.

    In a nutshell, I think that's it:  "no WGA = no Microsoft updates" and selected downloads.

     

    Thank you.

    As far as the wisdom of installing Updates, personally I do on all of my systems and I strongly recommend it for customers.  However, a very educated computer user (well above average) could IMO operate an XP system SP- and update-free if they were operating behind a top-quality firewall, had top quality AV protection, did not do daily computing tasks while logged on as an Administrative user, and did not stray from the beaten path of mainstream consumer websites into shall we say the internet's seedy side of town.  Since that hardly describes the average user, updates are pretty much a necessity.

    You're welcome!

    Thursday, June 1, 2006 4:03 PM

All replies

  • Adam,

    As the system is currently implemented, your installation of XP is validated when you manually visit Windows/Microsoft Updates or attempt to download certain content from Microsoft Downloads.  Additionally, the WGA notifications tool is updated from time to time and distributed thru Automatic Updates.

    To ensure you are not bothered by this, do not visit those sites.  Furthermore, to ensure that an updated version of the WGA notifications tool is not installed on your computer, from the Control Panel go to Windows Security.  Turn off Automatic updates using the links at the bottom of the window (manage security settings), then turn off the Automatic Updates alert setting by using the last link in the column of links on the left of the Security Center window.

    Wednesday, May 31, 2006 11:28 PM
  • Thank you for your reply, it's appreciated.  It seems a little imprudent to turn off the Update Alerts and not do Windows Updates with the endless security holes being uncovered, no?  I am concerned with security.

    And if I understand correctly you seem to imply that WGA only runs when we manually attempt to download "certain" (?) content from Microsoft, not when we do security updates?  If that's the case, why would Microsoft bother sending out frequent WGA updates instead of simply loading it when you attempt to download said content?  You're implying that automatic updates downloads and installs WGA updates but doesn't actually run the WGA check?  Doesn't the WGA check run simply to update critical Windows components now?  Otherwise, why are WGA updates now classified as critical by Microsoft?

    I appreciate your help, but what you wrote doesn't make sense to me.

    Thursday, June 1, 2006 1:51 AM
  • Adam,

    Regardless of whether an installation of XP is validated or not, if Automatic Updates is turned on, XP will receive updates that MS deems as critical security-related updates.

    In certain locations (USA, Canada, UK, and starting tomorrow France and some others), when an XP installation has automatic updates engaged, the WGA notifications tool is dispensed and downloaded.  If you agree to the EULA, it is installed and it checks the installation for validity.

    If you make a special trip to visit Windows/Microsoft Updates, the installation of XP will be validated before Updates (critical or routine) are dispensed.  If the installation of XP does not validate, no updates will be dispensed on that visit.

    The other limitation is at Microsoft Downloads.  Some "nice-to-have" content on the Downloads page requires that XP pas validation before the download will commence.  Other downloads do not trigger a validation event so regardless of whether XP is validated or not, you can get those downloads.

    Your original question was "How do I opt out?"  You opt out by not going to Windows/Microsoft Updates and  not downloading those particular programs that are only available to validated installations of XP.  You opt out by not allowing updated versions of the notifications tool to be installed on the computer.  Since the tool is distributed thru Automatic Updates, you would turn that off.

    Thursday, June 1, 2006 4:11 AM
  • But you are confirming that, if we live in one of those locations, the only way to opt out of WGA's data mining is to opt out of all Windows Updates, critical or routine (and "nice-to-have" Windows downloads).  It really strikes me as odd that you consider that a viable option seeing the recent XP vulnerabilities exposed by simple web browsing.  It comes across as a polite: "if you don't like it, don't use it".

    Or are you saying that if I had not agreed to the WGA EULA, then it wouldn't run and I would still get all Microsoft updates fine?  Therefore I need to reformat and re-install XP and not agree to the WGA EULA and I'll be able to opt out?

    Just to make it clear: I don't care if WGA comes down from Microsoft and checks if I have a valid license since I do.  What I have an issue with is that it is actually spyware collecting data from my PC and sending it back to Microsoft.  And it is deceptively doing so by stating that it does not collect any personal information.  This centralized control by Microsoft is disconcerting and really drives home the importance of open source peer reviewed software and standards.

    Dan, I appreciate your time and effort explaining this to me, but I am a little puzzled as to the indirect approach rather than a straight "no WGA = no Microsoft updates".  I assume you have ties to Microsoft.  Otherwise if I'm thick as butter I apologize.

    Thank you.

    Thursday, June 1, 2006 2:36 PM
  • First let me state that I am not a MS employee. I am a MS stockholder, and I am a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer.  My statements posted here are my own and in no way anything "official" from MS.  My overall MS technical knowledge and knowledge of the intricacies of MS software licensing, which could put understanding the DaVinci Code to shame () comes from 7 years of study and experience.  My technical knowledge of the latest iteration of WGA comes from some personal experience, from reading most of the posts on this board, and from asking the MS guys some questions.  Just clearing that up.

    BTW, I'm not sure how to intersperse comments into a quote on this particular message board system, so here goes (I'm in green):

     Adam Labrosse wrote:

    But you are confirming that, if we live in one of those locations, the only way to opt out of WGA's data mining is to opt out of all Windows Updates, critical or routine (and "nice-to-have" Windows downloads).  It really strikes me as odd that you consider that a viable option seeing the recent XP vulnerabilities exposed by simple web browsing.  It comes across as a polite: "if you don't like it, don't use it".

    Based on the above disclaimer, I cannot "confirm" anything, I can only relate my experience with WGA.

    Yes, I was trying to be polite and you are very correct if you interpreted what I wrote as "if you don't like it, don't use it" because that is pretty much it.  MS establishes the rules of how it wants to make its product available, and you as a consumer have the choice of accepting the terms or looking elsewhere for your needs to be met.  We make those decisions hundreds of times a week as consumers.

    Or are you saying that if I had not agreed to the WGA EULA, then it wouldn't run and I would still get all Microsoft updates fine?  Therefore I need to reformat and re-install XP and not agree to the WGA EULA and I'll be able to opt out?

    I can't say that I have tried this, but it does sound like it is a viable hypothesis.  If you read the EULA for the WGA notifications update, it does clearly state that it is "pre-release software" meaning it is a beta product and still has major bugs to be worked out.  Since I haven't tested it, I can't report to you that declining the EULA would necessarily result in being denied the option to get  updates manually at Windows/Microsoft update.  Perhaps the previous validation record stored on the computer would satisfy the requirements of the site.

    On the other hand after the horse is out of the barn, if you want to start over as you posit, would you be able to download the "old" WGA that does not do the notification thing, or has that been pulled so that when one is starting fresh the only WGA available is the new one tha does the notification thing?

    Just to make it clear: I don't care if WGA comes down from Microsoft and checks if I have a valid license since I do.  What I have an issue with is that it is actually spyware collecting data from my PC and sending it back to Microsoft.  And it is deceptively doing so by stating that it does not collect any personal information.  This centralized control by Microsoft is disconcerting and really drives home the importance of open source peer reviewed software and standards.

    Well this would all revolve around your defintion of spyware.  WGA certainly does keep track of your computer's hardware, but the mechanism of prduct activation has always had to keep track of hardware if it is to do its assigned task, which is to monitor a copy of XP if it travels from computer to computer.  I am loathe to quote EULAs since I can count on maybe two hands the number of them that I have read in a lifetime (), but the WGA EULA does spell out what it looks for, you just gotta read it.  It's also in the FAQ, as you excerpted in your first post.

    Dan, I appreciate your time and effort explaining this to me, but I am a little puzzled as to the indirect approach rather than a straight "no WGA = no Microsoft updates".  I assume you have ties to Microsoft.  Otherwise if I'm thick as butter I apologize.

    In a nutshell, I think that's it:  "no WGA = no Microsoft updates" and selected downloads.

     

    Thank you.

    As far as the wisdom of installing Updates, personally I do on all of my systems and I strongly recommend it for customers.  However, a very educated computer user (well above average) could IMO operate an XP system SP- and update-free if they were operating behind a top-quality firewall, had top quality AV protection, did not do daily computing tasks while logged on as an Administrative user, and did not stray from the beaten path of mainstream consumer websites into shall we say the internet's seedy side of town.  Since that hardly describes the average user, updates are pretty much a necessity.

    You're welcome!

    Thursday, June 1, 2006 4:03 PM
  • With regards to your concerns over data mining, I would like highlight the work we did with a leading German privacy firm – TUViT.  Microsoft has commissioned TÜViT, an independent German security auditor to test how well Windows Genuine Advantage Version 1.0 protects customers’ data. TÜV conducted a legal audit of Microsoft’s statements, policies and specifications to set the requirements for a technical audit that determined that the program’s databases, source-code and implementation respect privacy concerns. To learn more about the privacy see http://www.microsoft.com/genuine/downloads/PrivacyInfo.aspx?displaylang=en

     

    Again, thanks for the feedback.

     

    Sandy Weil

    Program Manager, Genuine Advantage

    Microsoft Corporation

    Thursday, June 1, 2006 7:08 PM
  • Thanks, I'm not sure what incentive you have to post here, but I've marked your post as useful and answer for what's it's worth...

     Dan at IT Associates wrote:

    [...]As far as the wisdom of installing Updates, personally I do on all of my systems and I strongly recommend it for customers.  However, a very educated computer user (well above average) could IMO operate an XP system SP- and update-free if they were operating behind a top-quality firewall, had top quality AV protection, did not do daily computing tasks while logged on as an Administrative user, and did not stray from the beaten path of mainstream consumer websites into shall we say the internet's seedy side of town.  Since that hardly describes the average user, updates are pretty much a necessity.[...]

    IMHO a "very educated computer user" could, regardless of firewalls, AV, not running as Admin., etc., still be susceptible to Windows' security vulnerabilities.  IE's most recent HTML Object vulnerability allows code execution simply by visiting a web page.  If you consider the JPEG vulnerability not too long ago, simply viewing a malicious JPEG could allow code execution.  You can avoid "malicious" web sites all you want, if you surf you are susceptible.  A JPEG can be posted anywhere, even Microsoft forums, by anyone.  We are talking POST SP2 here!  Even without Administrative rights, malicious code can access and do all a user can.  For example, it could access any of their documents, it could monitor their URL history, see if they access specific online banking sites, run code and intercept typed user names and passwords.  Also, anti-virus software is only good for known, pervasive viruses, it's practically useless against new or "unknown" (except to the hackers/criminals) threats.

    Thursday, June 1, 2006 7:42 PM
  • Thanks for the response Sandy.  But Enron commissioned the world-renowned and respected independent auditing firm Arthur Anderson to certify their books.  Basically, this means very little to me.  You can pay anyone to certify anything.

    However, the data admittedly being collected by Microsoft as spelled out in their FAQ (see my original post at the top of this thread) is actually what I have an issue with, therefore I don't see what this changes.  I did not agree to participate in this data collection / data mining.  I simply would like to opt out of the WGA data collection process, that's it.

    Regards.

    Thursday, June 1, 2006 8:09 PM
  •  Sandy Weil wrote:

    With regards to your concerns over data mining, I would like highlight the work we did with a leading German privacy firm – TUViT. Microsoft has commissioned TÜViT, an independent German security auditor to test how well Windows Genuine Advantage Version 1.0 protects customers’ data. TÜV conducted a legal audit of Microsoft’s statements, policies and specifications to set the requirements for a technical audit that determined that the program’s databases, source-code and implementation respect privacy concerns. To learn more about the privacy see http://www.microsoft.com/genuine/downloads/PrivacyInfo.aspx?displaylang=en

    Again, thanks for the feedback.

    Sandy Weil

    Program Manager, Genuine Advantage

    Microsoft Corporation



    Sandy,

    One point and a question...

    Sony made similar comments about privacy and quoted studies to show it's XCP CD software was not a security risk and did not phone home..........those claims were found to be rather bogus.

    But can you help me? I've been trying for 3 days now to find the name of the Head of Customer Service in the UK to complain about WGA issues and poor service levels.  Can you let me have the name?

    TIA

    Bernie
    Friday, June 2, 2006 11:32 AM
  •  Dan at IT Associates wrote:

    Yes, I was trying to be polite and you are very correct if you interpreted what I wrote as "if you don't like it, don't use it" because that is pretty much it.  MS establishes the rules of how it wants to make its product available, and you as a consumer have the choice of accepting the terms or looking elsewhere for your needs to be met.  We make those decisions hundreds of times a week as consumers.



    Dan,

    Slightly OT , but just to add to your EULA Da Vinci code...

    That is not strictly true in the UK, most of the EU and probably other countries such as Australia. UK consumer law regulates contracts (inc EULA's) between companies and individual consumers and any clause or condition of purchase can be deemed "unfair" and unenforcable even if signed/agreed by the individual consumer. This restricts what MS (or any supplier) can and can't do with its customers. The legal process is quite cheap (about $35) to take a case to court

    So, just as a consumer could take a PC shop to court for supplying a dodgy XP key, they can also take a software supplier to court for providing software which is "not fit for purpose"

    E.g. when Intuit stopped online stock updates in its Quicken package to existing users here a few years ago, they were forced to refund the cost of the package or provide an alternative service to a number of UK consumers who took them to court .

    This is separate from any controls put in place by the EU after the monopoly abuse that MS has been found guilty of. [As you are an MSFT stockholder, I bet you're hoping they win their appeal against that $1 billion fine...   :-(  ]

    Bernie




    Friday, June 2, 2006 12:15 PM
  • FYI...

    WGA will "phone home" and validate your Windows EVERY time you boot (watch your network traffic during boot). It may also "phone home" randomly while you are online.

    This is SPYWARE at it's worst.

    If I can find a way to bill for being "demographed", I will surely follow through with it. Even if this WGA uses ONE CLOCK CYCLE on my PC, these are MY resources and I have NOT authorized it's use for ANY kind of data farming.
    Friday, June 2, 2006 1:23 PM
  • You wrote

    "If you make a special trip to visit Windows/Microsoft updates, the installation of XP will be validated before updates (critical or routine) are dispensed. If the installation of XP does not validate, no updates will be dispensed on that visit."

    If that is the case- and it is when I do it, Why does MS still want me to install another round of WGA? When is enough - enough ??

    Friday, June 2, 2006 6:52 PM
  • SimpleSimon,

    Just about every major software publisher has implemented automatic online update checking.  MS is no different.

    Even by your apparently loose standards of hyperbole, this is not "spyware."

    Friday, June 2, 2006 6:52 PM
  • CWB,

    My supposition is that periodically MS will push out later versions of WGA that have incorporated fixes for many of the glitches being reported here.  After all, it is a Beta product.

    And if you allow for a little imagination, maybe every so often the new WGA that goes out will see if previous nags have been turned off and turn them back on.  After all,   what good is a nag screen if you can permanently disable it?

    Friday, June 2, 2006 6:56 PM
  •  CWB wrote:

    You wrote

    "If you make a special trip to visit Windows/Microsoft updates, the installation of XP will be validated before updates (critical or routine) are dispensed. If the installation of XP does not validate, no updates will be dispensed on that visit."

    If that is the case- and it is when I do it, Why does MS still want me to install another round of WGA? When is enough - enough ??

     

    That should have said that

    Dan at IT assoc. wrote....

    Friday, June 2, 2006 6:59 PM
  •  Bernie220578 wrote:
     Dan at IT Associates wrote:

    Yes, I was trying to be polite and you are very correct if you interpreted what I wrote as "if you don't like it, don't use it" because that is pretty much it.  MS establishes the rules of how it wants to make its product available, and you as a consumer have the choice of accepting the terms or looking elsewhere for your needs to be met.  We make those decisions hundreds of times a week as consumers.



    Dan,

    Slightly OT , but just to add to your EULA Da Vinci code...

    That is not strictly true in the UK, most of the EU and probably other countries such as Australia. UK consumer law regulates contracts (inc EULA's) between companies and individual consumers and any clause or condition of purchase can be deemed "unfair" and unenforcable even if signed/agreed by the individual consumer. This restricts what MS (or any supplier) can and can't do with its customers. The legal process is quite cheap (about $35) to take a case to court

    So, just as a consumer could take a PC shop to court for supplying a dodgy XP key, they can also take a software supplier to court for providing software which is "not fit for purpose"

    E.g. when Intuit stopped online stock updates in its Quicken package to existing users here a few years ago, they were forced to refund the cost of the package or provide an alternative service to a number of UK consumers who took them to court .

    This is separate from any controls put in place by the EU after the monopoly abuse that MS has been found guilty of. [As you are an MSFT stockholder, I bet you're hoping they win their appeal against that $1 billion fine...   :-(  ]

    Bernie




    Yes, I am hoping, but I doubt it.

    Seems that more than ever the Continent holds its sentiment for the paternalistic State that we here in the Colonies broke away from 230 years ago.  From a historical perspective, the American experiment sort of fizzled out in the 1890s-1900s, and we too have been guilty of the inexorable march back to the socialistic welfare State that our ancestors wanted to escape.  Oh, well, life's a ***.

    Friday, June 2, 2006 7:04 PM
  •  Bernie220578 wrote:
     Dan at IT Associates wrote:

    Yes, I was trying to be polite and you are very correct if you interpreted what I wrote as "if you don't like it, don't use it" because that is pretty much it.  MS establishes the rules of how it wants to make its product available, and you as a consumer have the choice of accepting the terms or looking elsewhere for your needs to be met.  We make those decisions hundreds of times a week as consumers.



    Dan,

    Slightly OT , but just to add to your EULA Da Vinci code...

    That is not strictly true in the UK, most of the EU and probably other countries such as Australia. UK consumer law regulates contracts (inc EULA's) between companies and individual consumers and any clause or condition of purchase can be deemed "unfair" and unenforcable even if signed/agreed by the individual consumer. This restricts what MS (or any supplier) can and can't do with its customers. The legal process is quite cheap (about $35) to take a case to court

    So, just as a consumer could take a PC shop to court for supplying a dodgy XP key, they can also take a software supplier to court for providing software which is "not fit for purpose"

    E.g. when Intuit stopped online stock updates in its Quicken package to existing users here a few years ago, they were forced to refund the cost of the package or provide an alternative service to a number of UK consumers who took them to court .

    This is separate from any controls put in place by the EU after the monopoly abuse that MS has been found guilty of. [As you are an MSFT stockholder, I bet you're hoping they win their appeal against that $1 billion fine...   :-(  ]

    Bernie




    Yes, I am hoping, but I doubt it.

    Seems that more than ever the Continent holds its sentiment for the paternalistic State that we here in the Colonies broke away from 230 years ago.  From a historical perspective, the American experiment sort of fizzled out in the 1890s-1900s, and we too have been guilty of the inexorable march back to the socialistic welfare State that our ancestors wanted to escape.  Oh, well, life's a ***.

    Friday, June 2, 2006 7:04 PM
  • ...and I disable/uninstall any software that does this.

    Also, Microsoft OPENLY admits that it collects data about it's users. That *IS* the definition of spyware.
    Friday, June 2, 2006 9:50 PM
  • Bernie, I can help you find a contact in the UK if you describe the problem you are having.
    Sunday, June 4, 2006 8:42 PM
  • Microsoft is probably just trying to understand if their attempts to keep people from abusing their software are working so... they collect data to see if the %'s of illegal systems goes down. 

    Sunday, June 4, 2006 9:09 PM
  •  Sandy Weil MSFT wrote:
    Bernie, I can help you find a contact in the UK if you describe the problem you are having.


    Sandy,

    Thanks, but no longer needed, though I appreciatte your offer. 

    After 4 days of trying to speak to someone I gave up and my client's IT department fixed it. They were astonished to find it was beta software that MS was pushing out.

    I'm unimpressed and may take the issue of the time I've lost further - I've seen better support and product testing in a back-street second-hand car dealership.

    Not impressed. Shoddy work MS.

    Bernie

    Monday, June 5, 2006 9:08 AM
  • RoadRage100, it's quite obvious that they are blatantly lying in their FAQ about it being used for demographics "to understand regional difference"!  It's implausible that they require hard disk serial numbers to understand demographics, this is an outright deception.  More likely they are using this information to track down the source of piracy, this would explain why they collect such information as PC manufacturer and BIOS identifiers.  However, this deception in their FAQ, which makes you question it entirely, is just the tip of the iceberg.  It's a slippery slope when a powerful organization starts collecting forensic data able to uniquely identify every PC it's software is running on.  I'm not going to bother elaborating on the ramifications in this forum, but I think most users of WGA and Microsoft software should be alarmed by this.
    Monday, June 5, 2006 6:20 PM
  • Sandy, I do *NOT* want to be counted by Microsoft. I never agreed to have Microsoft watch over me while I conducted my own business. I never agreed to share my CPU cycles with Microsoft so that they could collect data.
    Monday, June 5, 2006 8:17 PM
  •  Dan at IT Associates wrote:

    Just about every major software publisher has implemented automatic online update checking.  MS is no different.

    Even by your apparently loose standards of hyperbole, this is not "spyware."

     

    But wga is not automatic online update checking, windowsupdate does that (if required). No-one apparently knows what information it is sending (nothing about security updating your machine apparently) And on all the software I use this can be turned off anyway. WGA is the only one that seems to want to do this every time every time I start up! (but is caught by the firewall, just as spyware would be)

    Tuesday, June 6, 2006 9:28 AM
  • Jasee,

    Ask of the the MS guys on this forum what wga does at startup and why.

    Tuesday, June 6, 2006 5:10 PM
  • Bernie

          How did your client's IT depart. fix the problem?  Because of this WGA problem and a couple of other issues I have with MS, I have the install disk for Linux Mandrake setting beside my keyboard, one of these evenings I'll get good and ticked off and convert my machines over and get rid of MS for good!

    Greg

    Sunday, June 18, 2006 7:33 AM
  • There's no customer data to look at.  People should enter their product key and that should be it.

    You then don't post the product key on a website.

     

    There's not a whole lot of data you need to get on someone that clicks at icons on a computer and types email.  You're simply validating a key is good against a database of known good and/or bad keys.

    The need to harvest demographics and such isn't needed.  People who have pirated copies of windows will simply run one of the 32,767 programs posted on Google via searching for something such as "wga activation crack" or about 1000+ other keyword combinations. 

    Even though I paid for my copy of Windows (I had no choice, since you're a monopoly until more people dive into the open source world and make Linux more viable), I'd use a cracked copy or keygen or WGA deactivation program simply because ** I LIKE TO HAVE MY PRIVACY AND NOT TO HAVE A DATABASE KEPT ON ME **

     

    Again, you are CHECKING A CD KEY.  THAT IS ALL YOU NEED TO DO.  THERE IS  NO NEED FOR 32,767 DOWNLOADS TO SIMPLY CHECK A CD KEY, AND TERABYTES OF DATA TRANSFERRED FOR YOU TO UPDATE YOUR DATABASE OF BAD COPIES.

     

    Incompetance rears it's ugly head at Microsoft.  Again.

    Friday, July 28, 2006 6:10 AM
  • He said what he wanted from you, there's no need to ask additional questions.  If you don't want to give out the contact information, just say "I do not want to give you (the customer that keeps me in a job) the requested data.  Move along"

     

    There may have been too many words in the original message from him.  Buffer overflow attacks often, so maybe you mentally crashed.  Below is a shorter version of what he requested:

     

     

    --->        name of the Head of Customer Service in the UK

    Friday, July 28, 2006 6:12 AM
  •  

    I'm reading this thread for two reasons.

    1.  After downloading today's MS updates, my computer totally crashed and I had to do an IBM Restore for 20 minutes back to April.  Some kind of registry error on the blue error page.  Does MS disable my computer if it finds something it doesn't like?

    2.  I had heard on a TV segment regarding complaints about WGA that I could opt out.  Apparently that is not the case.

         I have heard that Sony apologized and stopped their CD-purchaser data mining after some lawsuits. ( Under the guise of Digital Rights Management, but then installing a rootkit. " Content Enhanced and Protected" )  See Technology Review May/June 2006 page 49.  Removing the rootkit disabled the CD drive.

         At this time I have the  Automatic Updates option turned off and will depend on Norton Anti Virus to stay running.

    Comments are welcome.

    --Martin

    Wednesday, August 9, 2006 3:45 AM