June 15, 2006

Microsoft Responds Regarding Innocent Users and Windows Genuine Advantage

Greetings. The Microsoft program director for Windows Genunine Advantage (WGA) -- whom I spoke to originally -- has responded to my questions regarding impacts of WGA validation checks on innocent users that I noted in a recent blog entry.

To summarize his response (in my words):

- MS is aware that repair depots and stores have had a habit of re-installing Windows (e.g., from cloned systems) in ways that could result in WGA validation failures.

- MS realizes that being told that a system is failing WGA checks for no obvious reason can be extremely frustrating to an innocent victim.

- He says that MS has been warning distributers, resellers, etc. about this issue for years, and urges them to use appropriate software tools when fixing/configuring customer machines to avoid creating invalid OS copies that will fail WGA validation -- but MS knows that this is still definitely a problem.

- He urges customers who have been "victimized" by such actions that cause WGA failures to go back to the dealer (or whomever) to request a proper installation, using the original activation keys whenever possible.

In the event that the dealer, etc. won't help or can't help, he suggests:

1) Turning off WGA notification warnings via the system tray applet -- so at least that won't keep bugging them...


2) Phone MS support via whatever numbers are provided for the user's area. He says that the support people (he notes that phone banks have been beefed up to handle more calls) have a variety of tools that can be used to swap and/or override keys to get around a variety of related WGA issues.

- - -

So it appears that Microsoft does have mechanisms in place to deal with at least some of these issues in typical contexts, assuming that folks caught up in these situations aren't too flustered, and that they are able to realize what is actually going on and what corrective steps are available.

Of course, none of this addresses the basic questions in general relating to users vs. vendor control and licensing rights monitoring, ownership vs. effectively the "rental" of software, and a range of other questions, including one of the perhaps most fundamental of all: Aren't these kinds of situations starting to get far too complicated and unnecessarily complex for consumer products, on which people now depend for so many aspects of their lives?


Blog Update (June 27, 2006): Details From Microsoft Regarding Significant WGA Changes

Posted by Lauren at June 15, 2006 02:03 PM | Permalink
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