Feeds

Microsoft admits WGA update phones home

Click cancel to continue

The essential guide to IT transformation

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
BBC: We're going to slip CODING into kids' TV
Pureed-carrot-in-ice cream C++ surprise
China: You, Microsoft. Office-Windows 'compatibility'. You have 20 days to explain
Told to cough up more details as antitrust probe goes deeper
Windows 7 settles as Windows XP use finally starts to slip … a bit
And at the back of the field, Windows 8.1 is sprinting away from Windows 8
Linux turns 23 and Linus Torvalds celebrates as only he can
No, not with swearing, but by controlling the release cycle
Scratched PC-dispatch patch patched, hatched in batch rematch
Windows security update fixed after triggering blue screens (and screams) of death
This is how I set about making a fortune with my own startup
Would you leave your well-paid job to chase your dream?
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Endpoint data privacy in the cloud is easier than you think
Innovations in encryption and storage resolve issues of data privacy and key requirements for companies to look for in a solution.
Why cloud backup?
Combining the latest advancements in disk-based backup with secure, integrated, cloud technologies offer organizations fast and assured recovery of their critical enterprise data.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?