Feeds

Microsoft product phones home every day

Oh didn't we mention that in the licence?

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

Microsoft has admitted that Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) will phone Redmond every day - something it neglected to tell users before they installed it.

WGA is designed to detect pirated copies of MS software but is also creating some false positives - two UK dealers have contacted the Reg to report customers complaining that WGA had branded their software as an illegal copy.

The software checks what is installed on your machine and then reports back to Microsoft - it sends your IP number and information on your software set-up. If your software is dodgy you will start receiving pop-up reminders from Microsoft.

Michaela Alexander, head of anti-piracy at Microsoft UK, told the Reg: "First of all this is a pilot - customers have the choice to subscribe or not. WGA is very careful about which license keys are checked - some numbers have been leaked and therefore have been culled by Microsoft. If customers bought a genuine copy of Windows but as a result of a poor installation or a repair a different license key was used then WGA would flag it as not genuine."

But Alexander said all this was detailed in the opt-in process. But she added: "The last thing we want is unhappy customers so we are investigating this - but it is a pilot and this is part of the process."

The word from the US is that Microsoft will change WGA so it only phones home once a fortnight, instead of every day, and will do a better job of letting users know what the software is doing. More from Seattle Post Intelligencer here.

One of the dealers with the original problem emailed us the following:

The problem was caused by an active-x control being blocked by IE security. The fix was to go to http://www.microsoft.com/genuine/diag and following instructions. This runs through a series of checks to ensure that the validation process can operate correctly, then advises of the necessary changes in IE setup to permit correct validation. In the case of our clients, the problem was correctly diagnosed and the resolution worked fine.

It's just alarming that for a simple security problem, Microsoft had informed the end user (by way of a message displayed on their screen) that they might be [quote] "The victim of software counterfeiting".

®

Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management

More from The Register

next story
'Windows 9' LEAK: Microsoft's playing catchup with Linux
Multiple desktops and live tiles in restored Start button star in new vids
Not appy with your Chromebook? Well now it can run Android apps
Google offers beta of tricky OS-inside-OS tech
New 'Cosmos' browser surfs the net by TXT alone
No data plan? No WiFi? No worries ... except sluggish download speed
SUSE Linux owner Attachmate gobbled by Micro Focus for $2.3bn
Merger will lead to mainframe and COBOL powerhouse
iOS 8 release: WebGL now runs everywhere. Hurrah for 3D graphics!
HTML 5's pretty neat ... when your browser supports it
Greater dev access to iOS 8 will put us AT RISK from HACKERS
Knocking holes in Apple's walled garden could backfire, says securo-chap
NHS grows a NoSQL backbone and rips out its Oracle Spine
Open source? In the government? Ha ha! What, wait ...?
Google extends app refund window to two hours
You now have 120 minutes to finish that game instead of 15
Intel: Hey, enterprises, drop everything and DO HADOOP
Big Data analytics projected to run on more servers than any other app
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.