Feeds

Microsoft rebrands WGA nagware for Windows 7

This is not an alert

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

A nagware anti-piracy feature in Windows isn't going away, it's just getting a marketing makeover by Microsoft.

Windows Genuine Advantage is being re-branded Windows Activation Technologies in Windows 7 and for updated versions of Windows Vista, the company has said.

Microsoft claimed the change reflected the use of "fundamentally" different technologies - new code and "latest methods" that work with Windows 7 and Vista components that are different to Windows XP - to stop PCs running pirated or illegal copies of Windows.

But the explanation makes no sense, given Windows 7 is based on the Windows Vista code and it was Windows Vista that saw long-running complaints over WGA reach their zenith with the creation of the ill-advised Windows Vista kill switch.

The kill switch penalized Windows Vista customers who'd failed to activate or register their copy of the operating system within 30 days or three days after a major change to the PC's hardware configuration by blocking certain key features.

Users would be denied access to features such as Aero Glass, ReadyBoot, and BitLocker, with Windows Vista running in an "out-of-grace reduced functionality mode."

Windows Vista's Service Pack 1 removed the kill switch, but WGA had already earned itself the kind of reputation where people start Googling work-arounds to de-install it.

Built to detect and prevent installation of pirated or illegal copies of software, WGA failed genuine copies of Windows in large numbers for reasons never explained.

One in five PCs running Windows XP have failed WGA tests since July 2005, but less than 0.5 per cent were reported to be running counterfeit software, according to figures from Microsoft released in January 2007. In 2006, Microsoft said that more than 20 per cent of WGA failures had been caused by something other than piracy of the keys used to activate the software.

Along the way, alerts would pop up. If WGA found your copy of Windows to be not genuine, unauthorized or not validated, you got repeated warnings of: "This copy of Windows is not genuine".

Despite these failures, Microsoft remains committed to the idea of WGA - hence the name change to break from the past as it introduces a brand new operating system.

If you chose not to activate your copy of Windows 7 immediately, the company said Thursday, you're still going to get an annoying alert - but more in the vein of a peppy and irritating health and safety manager than a harsh headmaster ready with the cane. According to Microsoft, it has updated the Windows Vista SP1 reminder so: "When customers choose to activate later they will see a dialog box highlighting how activation helps them identify if their copy of Windows is genuine and be allowed to proceed immediately without a 15-second delay."

WGA is not going away. Microsoft has also hinted at changes in the Windows Vista and Windows 7 management tools to cater for virtualized images and volume activation. Also, the company promised: "More can always be done - which is why you'll continue to see us invest in anti-piracy efforts such as Windows Activation Technologies over the long term."

Interestingly, Microsoft did not tackle the hot-button issue of WGA from either the roadmap or re-branding perspective during its recent outing at the security industry's annual San Francisco, California - the RSA Conference. The company's corporate vice president trustworthy computing Scott Charney instead rehashed a previous pitch for "end-to-end trust" using its planned Geneva identity management and sign-in framework. ®

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup

More from The Register

next story
The Return of BSOD: Does ANYONE trust Microsoft patches?
Sysadmins, you're either fighting fires or seen as incompetents now
China hopes home-grown OS will oust Microsoft
Doesn't much like Apple or Google, either
Microsoft refuses to nip 'Windows 9' unzip lip slip
Look at the shiny Windows 8.1, why can't you people talk about 8.1, sobs an exec somewhere
This is how I set about making a fortune with my own startup
Would you leave your well-paid job to chase your dream?
Microsoft cries UNINSTALL in the wake of Blue Screens of Death™
Cache crash causes contained choloric calamity
Eat up Martha! Microsoft slings handwriting recog into OneNote on Android
Freehand input on non-Windows kit for the first time
Linux kernel devs made to finger their dongles before contributing code
Two-factor auth enabled for Kernel.org repositories
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.
5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
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?