WGA articles in the press. RRS feed

  • General discussion

  • I have seen articles in the press, especially this month, such as this one from eWeek.com.


    What Microsoft really does with the data it collects is unknown to me so I will not accuse anybody of anything.  I will say however that I am put off by the seemingly unending efforts of Microsoft to invade my life via my PC.  First we were told that the authentication process used in Windows XP doesn't send any identifying data back to Microsoft.  Now we're told the same thing about WGA.  Frankly, with these processes running secretly and behind my back I'm not sure what to believe.  Microsoft could be collecting my social security number, credit card numbers, on-line purchasing information and who knows what else and I would be blissfully ignorant about it.  I doubt that MS is really collecting all this, but the point is that I just don't know.

    To make my feelings clear let me say this, I bought an operating system from you.  That's all.  I didn't marry Microsoft and I didn't agree to our living together as a partner in my life.  My life is my business, not yours.  I realize that that you need to protect your investments and prevent piracy.  I have no problem with that.  Reading articles like the one above makes me feel like you are spying on me every time I start up the computer.  Are you really?  I doubt it, but secret check-ins with the home office tends to make people believe the worst.

    I'm sorry if this seems harsh, but I feel that this has done Microsoft a great deal of harm in terms of customer trust.

    What's next?

    Tuesday, June 27, 2006 9:40 PM

All replies

  • Not Very Happy,

    Put aside all of the bad press you have been reading about WGA and the Notifications Tool for a moment.

    Now approach this with an open mind.....

    MS begins a program that deploys checking software onto each installation of Windows.  The software is designed to check whether the installed copy of XP is genuine.  If it's not, that installation of XP is denied manually applied updates at Windows Update, and some nice-to-have downloads at microsoft.com.  The installation of XP still gets security related critical updates pushed to it if Automatic Updates is set.  Nothing about the actual function of the computer or the Operating System is affected.

    MS's reasoning is, Let's reward people for using a genuine copy of our product.  The flipside of that is, let's withhold nice-to-have stuff if the copy is not genuine.

    This is called Windows Genuine Advantage and is over a year old.

    MS deploys a tool to read the WGA assessment of the installed copy of Windows, and if that assessment is that it is not a Genuine installation, some nag screens are displayed and you get to look at an icon in the Notifications Area (system tray) of the Taskbar.

    This is called the Windows Genuine Advantage Notification Tool and has been in effect for a few months depending upon where you are in the world.

    As a precaution, the tool is designed to go online and ask a Microsoft server if the Tool should turn itself off.  This question is asked each time someone logs onto the computer.  The Tool reports no information to Microsoft servers, and the server records no information.  This is the infamous "phone home" issue.  Your home or cell phone's Caller ID reports more information about you to someone you are calling than does the Notifications Tool to Microsoft servers. 

    Nothing else changes----nothing about the actual function of the computer or the Operating System is affected; security related updates are still pushed out.  The only difference is nag screens and an icon, and one question, "Should I turn myself off?"

    Wednesday, June 28, 2006 2:50 AM
  • It's all nice and good except for the fact that WGA is actually not working properly on many genuine installs of Windows. Microsoft should issue a patch now to remove WGA. If Microsoft can get the thing to run properly without misidentifications sometime in the future without the spyware like features that Microsoft is getting accused of, then they can reissue it.

    I also have serious issues in calling the Notification Update a High Priority update. There are no security or code fixes in WGA. So, it should NOT be called High Priority, especially when the thing fails to work properly.  It should be in the optional area of Windows Update and NOT sent in Automatic Updates AT ALL.
    Wednesday, June 28, 2006 3:24 PM
  • Thank you for the reply Dan.

    You are correct, the press is spinning this and the columnists are probably the worst. 

    Your explanation is level-headed and objective.  I personally agree with the logic of the program in that they are holding back non-critical  updates.  I don't agree that the WGA directly benefits the user, I believe that that the obvious benefit here is for Microsoft.  Saying that they are doing this to help us, the user, is 75% spin in the PR department.  Sure, there are hacked copies of Windows out there (as there are for other software packages as well I guess).  I really don't believe that Dell, Gateway, Toshiba, Lenovo and the other major manufacturers are distributing hacked copies of Windows.  The guy in a mom and pop computer store, maybe.  Who knows?  (nothing personal intended there)

    It seems to me that this is a significant public relations problem for Microsoft.  Trust is hard to gain and harder to regain.  I know intelligent and informed system admins who question what is going on with this and other Microsoft programs.  One said that he didn't allow Windows Update to be used on his network because he didn't "really know what data Microsoft was collecting."  There was much of the same discussion when XP came out and it had to "phone home" to authorize the installation.  Mistrust, probably fueled by the columnists, convinced many people that Microsoft was building this massive database of personal information. 

    So what's my point?  Simply that Microsoft is the favorite IT company to "pick on" because they are at the top of the PC food chain.  To me, that means that they need to be out in advance of the bad news (like I used as an example in my first post) and doing a better job than the people who attack them.  They need to do this in a way that communicates not only to the tech's in the business, but to the man on the street as well.  I think that "we have a privacy policy" doesn't go the distance. 


    Wednesday, June 28, 2006 9:10 PM
  •  emhdoc wrote:
    It's all nice and good except for the fact that WGA is actually not working properly on many genuine installs of Windows. Microsoft should issue a patch now to remove WGA.


    Where are these numbers and estimations based off of? The forum is very skewed result of only users having Validation issues.



    -Phil Liu

    Wednesday, June 28, 2006 11:14 PM
  • Not Very Happy,

    I strongly agree with you when you say that MS has to be out in front and doing a better job than the people who are attacking them.  And there is no shortage of attackers, justified or not!

    Wednesday, June 28, 2006 11:37 PM
  • Not Very, Dan:


    Thank you for your feedback. Our engineering team, business development, public relations, etc.. are all aware of the issues and are aware of this posting. We're working very actively at this time (trust me on this!) to be PROACTIVE, not REACTIVE.


    I appreciate all the feedback,

    -phil liu

    Thursday, June 29, 2006 8:27 AM
  • You're welcome, Phil. 

    Friday, June 30, 2006 2:31 AM