Feeds

Microsoft rebrands WGA nagware for Windows 7

This is not an alert

Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction

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. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
This time it's 'Personal': new Office 365 sub covers just two devices
Redmond also brings Office into Google's back yard
Batten down the hatches, Ubuntu 14.04 LTS due in TWO DAYS
Admins dab straining server brows in advance of Trusty Tahr's long-term support landing
Microsoft lobs pre-release Windows Phone 8.1 at devs who dare
App makers can load it before anyone else, but if they do they're stuck with it
Half of Twitter's 'active users' are SILENT STALKERS
Nearly 50% have NEVER tweeted a word
Oh no, Joe: WinPhone users already griping over 8.1 mega-update
Hang on. Which bit of Developer Preview don't you understand?
Internet-of-stuff startup dumps NoSQL for ... SQL?
NoSQL taste great at first but lacks proper nutrients, says startup cloud whiz
Windows 8.1, which you probably haven't upgraded to yet, ALREADY OBSOLETE
Pre-Update versions of new Windows version will no longer support patches
Microsoft TIER SMEAR changes app prices whether devs ask or not
Some go up, some go down, Redmond goes silent
Red Hat to ship RHEL 7 release candidate with a taste of container tech
Grab 'near-final' version of next Enterprise Linux next week
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a defence for mobile apps
In this whitepaper learn the various considerations for defending mobile applications; from the mobile application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies needed to properly assess mobile applications risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.