Feeds

Microsoft admits WGA update phones home

Click cancel to continue

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

Microsoft has admitted that the latest update to its Windows Genuine Advantage program will phone back to Redmond even if the user clicks cancel.

WGA is meant to help Redmond fight piracy, but has been criticised on privacy grounds and because previous versions have incorrectly labelled people with genuine software as pirates.

But if you cancel the installation of WGA, maybe because you dislike the privacy implications, the software will still phone home. Microsoft stresses that WGA does not take any information which could identify you as an individual, but is only used to collate statistics on WGA use.

Microsoft UK anti-piracy manager Michala Alexander said in a statement:

The data collection and transfer in question are part of some of our update download services, such as the Windows Update service. As with other programs downloaded via these services, the success or failure of WGA Notifications' installation is sent to Microsoft.

If the user interrupts installation of WGA Notifications, we send the number of the screen on which installation stopped (first, second, etc.). In order to establish an accurate count, we also generate several globally unique identifiers (GUIDs) that do not contain any personal information. We use the GUIDs to tally the number of individual machines without identifying the user. Other data sent includes user and machine language settings and whether or not the machine was joined to a domain.

We use the information collected to generate aggregate statistics that help us improve the WGA user experience and quality of service.

Protecting the privacy of our customer's information is very important to Microsoft. That is why we have detailed what information is collected in the Windows Update privacy statement. In addition, the Microsoft Genuine Advantage privacy statement and the Windows Genuine Advantage Notifications End User License Agreement describe this data collection. As documented in these disclosures, the information collected is not used to identify or contact the user.

For more on this, have a look at Ars Technica, which got the story from HeiseOnline. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Netscape Navigator - the browser that started it all - turns 20
It was 20 years ago today, Marc Andreeesen taught the band to play
Sway: Microsoft's new Office app doesn't have an Undo function
Content aggregation, meet the workplace ... oh
Sign off my IT project or I’ll PHONE your MUM
Honestly, it’s a piece of piss
Return of the Jedi – Apache reclaims web server crown
.london, .hamburg and .公司 - that's .com in Chinese - storm the web server charts
NetWare sales revive in China thanks to that man Snowden
If it ain't Microsoft, it's in fashion behind the Great Firewall
Chrome 38's new HTML tag support makes fatties FIT and SKINNIER
First browser to protect networks' bandwith using official spec
Admins! Never mind POODLE, there're NEW OpenSSL bugs to splat
Four new patches for open-source crypto libraries
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
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.