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MS fixes phone-home nagware

WGA patch issued

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Microsoft has patched a controversial nagware update that "phoned home" every time Windows started. Redmond has also issued an advisory with instructions on how to remove the software.

The component was designed to enforce its 'Windows Genuine Advantage' anti-piracy program, by nagging users into a state of obedience. Every time the PC was activated, the "notifications" (Redmond-speak for nag) portion of WGA checked its state against a central server, and then invited users of non-compliant software where they could "learn more about the benefits of using genuine Windows software."

Quite why Windows needed to phone home simply to remind itself to pester users is one of the more curious features of the program. But Microsoft's own channel fell foul of the warnings: two distributors said they'd received false positives for legitimate Windows installations. A year ago Microsoft made WGA mandatory for all Windows users seeking software updates or patches, and the Notifications nag was rolled out world wide on May 30, on what Microsoft describes a 'voluntary' basis.

Today Microsoft says a new version of WGA will no longer make the daily "phone home" call.

In a release titled "Windows Genuine Advantage Bolsters Frontline in Anti-Piracy Fight", Microsoft said it has also changed the End User License Agreement (EULA) with a General Availability EULA that makes its purpose clearer to users. And there's a new Knowledge Base advisory, over here, where you can learn how to both disable the nagware, or delete it completely. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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