Bits from Bill

Technology thoughts leaking from the brain of "Bill Pytlovany"

Friday, July 07, 2006

Windows Genuine Advantage Not

Microsoft has been getting a lot of attention lately over its implementation of a startup process called WGA( Windows Genuine Advantage ). I wrote about it myself when I first discovered it.( More Info )  I still think it was a poor implementation forced on the developers by  “suits” who were concerned about piracy.  We even added a new feature to WinPatrol 10 that allows users to disable the current WGA and any future implementations. 

The news this week was about a second lawsuit filed claiming that, WGA is spyware and that Microsoft lied to customers telling them it was part of a critical security update. (More Info) According to Engineered Process Controls and Univex and other plaintiffs,

WGA gathers data that can easily identify individual PCs, and WGA can be modified remotely to collect additional information at Microsoft's initiation,"

As a casual observer I think Microsoft owes all of us an apology.  It’s one thing  to choose to install “beta” software, it’s another to have it forced down your throat.  WGA was a beta test that was disguised as a critical security update.  Microsoft already has a method in place to verify if I was using a legal version of Windows before updating or downloading extras.  They certainly didn’t need to check every time I boot.

My big objection isn’t that it phones home to Microsoft.  I figure Microsoft already knows more about me than the IRS. My complaint is that it runs at Startup and I already have to wait longer than I should when I reboot.   When I did my time working on the Redmond campus, everyone, including Bill Gates talked about the need for a quick start PC. After all, that’s what people were used to with their televisions. 

Microsoft has posted instructions on how do disable WGA Notifications and manually uninstall WGA(More Info ) but I expect we’ll continue to follow this story.


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