Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Garden Phone?

There's been a lot of discussion of late regarding Microsoft's "pilot" Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) tool being used in their fight against anti-piracy. The discussions weren't limited to the press either. For example, there were two discussion threads at Scot's Newsletter Forum: WGA and WGA Notification Tool and Utility Nukes Windows Genuine Advantage Callbacks.

In a recent conversation with a friend, she told me that she just didn't get it. How many times did she have to prove to Microsoft that she paid for the license? When installing her licensed copy of Microsoft XP Pro, she had to validate. Then she had to validate again through the WGA Validation. Next, Microsoft was "calling home" every day to check with the servers on whether it was time to re-validate her computer yet again. This friend lives in a country where there is a service charge for every call made (on top of the telephone and ISP charges). That means that Microsoft was costing this person, who happens to be on a fixed income, a service charge every time WGA Notification called home.

Based on customer comment, today Microsoft released a new version of WGA. The new version does not include the daily configuration check (which is also a real nightmare for dialup users) but will "call home" periodically. Another significant change is a clearer EULA (end user license agreement) and instructions to opt-in. See "Windows Genuine Advantage Bolsters Frontline in Anti-Piracy Fight"

For instructions on how to disable or uninstall the pilot version of Microsoft Windows Genuine Advantage Notifications (Last Review: 27 Jun-06), see http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=921914. Please note, however, that the uninstall instructions include a registry edit. It is always best to back up the registry before attempting any regedits. See this article on backing up the registry: Windows XP and Windows Server 2003: http://support.microsoft.com/default.aspx?scid=322756.

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