ArsTechnica and a few other sites are pointing to Microsoft forums where complaints are pouring in regarding problems that Windows XP and Windows Vista users are encountering when trying to validate their software as "genuine" using Microsoft's Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) system.
On the Windows Genuine forums, frustrated users are reporting that their non-pirated copies of Windows are being marked as "non-genuine." They are encountering problems when attempting to download patches, fixes and other software that requires a WGA check before the download is permitted.
So far, the only seemingly official response from Microsoft was relayed by "Doug in Singapore," who posted the following note in the Forums:
"I’m sorry to inform you that the Windows Genuine server might be down for few days. I have escalate the issue to our Genuine team, kindly try to validate again on Tuesday 28 Aug 2007.
"Thank you for contacting Microsoft Technical Support."
Update: 5:00 p.m. August 25: It's possible that Microsoft fixed the issue, based on severalnew posts in the forum. Several posters are reporting that users who go to the main WGA page and click on "validate" are no longer encountering problems. There is currently no notice on the WGA page regarding the outage.
"Customers who received an incorrect validation response can fix their system by revalidating on our site (http://www.microsoft.com/genuine). We encourage anyone who received a validation failure since Friday evening to do this now. After successfully revalidating any affected system should be rebooted to ensure the genuine-only features are restored."
Users in the forums have been warning others against performing any tasks that require WGA validation. A number of posters are blaming Vista for the problem and are committing to "downgrade" to XP as a result.
In Vista's case, if WGA deems a user's copy non-Genuine, Microsoft shuts off certain pieces of Vista functionality, such as the Aero user interface.
Forum poster Arl_in said:
"This is very irresponsible. I was scared to death and ended up formatting my computer... TWICE. What the heck?!? But am I safe to assume that the validation process will work once the server or whatever is wrong is fixed? I really don't want to waste my $250.And I restarted my computer and no Aero."
(Note: I am running Windows XP on this system and just tried validating at 5 p.m. EST on August 25 after going to the Microsoft WGA page and clicking "validate." I had no problem validating my system after doing so.)
I've asked Microsoft's Windows team for an official response. No word back yet. Stay tuned.
Update: Microsoft did fix the WGA outage on August 25. No word on why it happened or what, if anything, Microsoft is doing so it doesn't happen again.