Feeds

Windows Genuine Advantage cries wolf (again)

Aargh! Server outage turns customers into pirates

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Over the weekend, thousands of Microsoft customers who tried to download patches or updates for Windows were falsely accused of running a pirated version of Windows.

Microsoft blamed the Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) glitch on server problems, since fixed. WGA is an anti-piracy program which determines the validity of Windows software running on customer PCs - and phone backs to Redmond with the results.

Between Friday and Saturday, Windows users who tried to update their system were greeted by WGA declaring them liars and cheats.

Microsoft is investigating the cause of the error.

Despite the internet uproar over the weekend, according to Microsoft's WGA blog, fewer than 12,000 systems were affected worldwide. Microsoft denies reports that the error caused some computers to gut itself of features such as DirectX.

From the WGA blog:

This validation failure did not result in the 30-day grace period starting and no one went into reduced functionality mode as a result. The experience of a system that failed validation in this instance was that some features intended for use only on genuine systems were temporarily unavailable. Those features were Windows Aero, ReadyBoost, Windows Defender (which still scanned and identified all threats, but cleaned only the severe ones), and Windows Update (only optional updates were unavailable; security and other critical updates remained available).

Customers who received an incorrect validation response can fix their system by revalidating at the WGA site. Microsoft recommends the affected systems are rebooted to restore the system to normal.

The SNAFU mirrors a similar server outage last year which flagged genuine copies of Windows as pirated booty.

False positives, in addition to privacy concerns have fueled debate on just how advantageous WGA is to legitimate customers.

It is telling to us that Microsoft must constantly remind its customers that it hasn't added WGA because of spite:

"WGA's goal is not to punish the people who purchase these programs; they, of all people are the most victimized," wrote Alex Kochis, WGA senior product manager in the WGA blog. "The goal is to give these people a tool to let them know they have been victimized and can do something about it." ®

Maximizing your infrastructure through virtualization

More from The Register

next story
Whoah! How many Google Play apps want to read your texts?
Google's app permissions far too lax – security firm survey
Chrome browser has been DRAINING PC batteries for YEARS
Google is only now fixing ancient, energy-sapping bug
Do YOU work at Microsoft? Um. Are you SURE about that?
Nokia and marketing types first to get the bullet, says report
Microsoft takes on Chromebook with low-cost Windows laptops
Redmond's chief salesman: We're taking 'hard' decisions
EU dons gloves, pokes Google's deals with Android mobe makers
El Reg cops a squint at investigatory letters
Big Blue Apple: IBM to sell iPads, iPhones to enterprises
iOS/2 gear loaded with apps for big biz ... uh oh BlackBerry
OpenWRT gets native IPv6 slurping in major refresh
Also faster init and a new packages system
Google shows off new Chrome OS look
Athena springs full-grown from Chromium project's head
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Mobile application security vulnerability report
The alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, and the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.