A WGA success story

A WGA success story

Summary: What happens when you take your PC in for repairs to a major national computer retailer? Despite paying premium prices, you might not get premium service. In fact, as I discovered this week, you might wind up with a PC full of bootleg software and more troubles than you bargained for.

TOPICS: Windows

I’ve spent this week in Arizona visiting old friends, some of whom are also clients. So, naturally, I did a fair amount of PC maintenance over the course of the week, usually just before cocktail hour. In the process of one such visit, I got a firsthand look at Microsoft’s Windows Genuine Advantage program working exactly as it’s intended to work.

My friend Sam (not his real name) runs a thriving custom art business and depends on his Windows PC for creative and business support. In late January he made the mistake of running a so-called registry cleaner, which made such a mess of his system that he decided to start fresh with a clean install. He called his CompUSA rep, brought his PC and a stack of CDs in to the shop, and signed a work order that read “reinstall all programs and XP.”

CompUSA charged him $600 for this job – highway robbery, in my opinion. When he got the PC back, everything appeared to be in working order, but the CD burner didn’t work properly. I traced the problem to a conflict with an ancient version of Roxio’s Easy CD Creator. After removing the incompatible software and reinstalling the device, everything worked again.

Before leaving, I decided it would be useful to make sure he had the most recent updates for his PC, including Internet Explorer 7. Imagine my surprise when a quick visit to Windows Update turned up the news that his copy of Windows XP was “not genuine.” Sure enough, when I looked in the bag of disks that Sam had given to technician, I found his genuine Dell Windows XP restore disks in their original, unopened plastic bag.

For $600, Sam’s tech had installed a bootleg copy of Windows XP. He had also installed a pirated copy of a popular antivirus program. None of the Dell drivers had been updated, and no security updates had been applied. Where did that unauthorized copy of Windows XP come from? I assume that CompUSA doesn’t issue bootleg software to its techs, so the most likely scenario is that the tech downloaded it from a warez site; fortunately, the bogus copy didn’t appear to contain any Trojan horses or other potentially malicious software.

Microsoft’s repair tools worked exceptionally well. The Windows Genuine Advantage webpage included a link to the Product Key Updater, which I used to enter the legitimate product key from the sticker on the side of Sam’s Dell machine. To activate the Windows installation, I made a five-minute call to Microsoft, read a 54–digit number to an automated system, and in turn received a string of numbers from a human being.

The irony is that if the tech had used the legit Windows restore disks from Dell, the entire reinstallation would probably have taken an hour less, and the results would have been cleaner.

As it is, I expect CompUSA will wind up refunding every penny of the $600 that Sam paid them. With service like this, no wonder the company is closing half its stores.

Topic: Windows

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  • Success?

    I own a ligite Windows license.
    I have a copy of Windows from somewhere else installed.
    Most likely because the repair person has a mirror image he can put on a hardrive
    quickly. (Less then an hour)
    Now I need to uninstall a working system and re-install inorder to avoid licence
    • Just update the product key

      The Product Key Updater works. If the tech who put the image on your machine were properly trained, he/she could have done that. If they're not properly trained, they have no business installing software on your computer.
      Ed Bott
    • Re-install

      Hi, if you have an original XP install CD you can just boot on it and update the install without re-installing from scratch. It will ask you first if you want to repair the install with the Recovery Console, chose NO and go on. It will find the current install and ask if you want to repair it, now you can chose to repair it and it will work on the existing install eventually asking for your license key and when it is finished everything will still be there and you will be legimate.
  • Success?

    Sounds more like a reaming your friend took! Listen WGA is nothing more than a PITA. And the whole licensing thing... come on, the consumer is really getting the shaft here! This is yet one more example of an ignorant user getting it in the tail pipe.

    And one more example of why I moved so many of my old clients to Linux. Sorry your friend got robbed of $600.00 but you know that old saying... a fool and his money are soon parted. ]:)
    Linux User 147560
    • How did WGA cause problems?

      Without the WGA check, my friend would never have known that the tech used software from a questionable source and, more importantly, that he didn't get a reinstall of the proper drivers for his system.

      I blame CompUSA.
      Ed Bott
      • Who cares where the OS came from...

        if there is a license on the PC to run a certain version of Windows and he is running it then who cares? There should not be a need for WGA in the first place. I thought computers were supposed to be easy for people to use, and yet with WGA and other draconian methods of control that ease of use is becoming a major thorn in peoples sides!
        Linux User 147560
        • Sounds like someone doesn't want to pay for their software

          I can see why you love Linux so much.
          • Nice try but I do pay for my

            software and that shiny Windows 2000 Pro disk collecting dust is paid for with a receipt to prove it. The point I was making is if the machine already was licensed to run Windows XP WTFE then who cares where the OS came from so long as it is the same version. Get it?! I also have several SuSE CD's that I have paid for along with a couple from Mandrake and Mandriva. I have no problem paying a fair price for my software, but when it costs more than the hardware, I have an issue with that.

            The OS is 1's & 0's on a plastic platter that is mass produced. One Windows XP Home is the same as the next Windows XP Home etc.

            As for why I like Linux so much, it has to do with ownership of my software. It has to do with the stability of my OS (something you guy's are just now getting... finally). It has to do with the ability, should I so choose, to get into the guts and play around. It has to do with the fact I DO NOT have to prove ownership of my OS or software. I don't have to deal with AV (except to protect Windows machines) and I don't have to deal with 20+ character keys to activate my software.

            And of course chicks dig penguins.
            Linux User 147560
          • And the success of "Happy Feet" . . .

            should prove how popular penguins is . . .

            I can see both of your points. If you own a legit copy, there shouldn't be any problems. On the other hand, CompUSA should be sued at this point for not doing a QC check on the technician and the job before giving it back to the customer. If I hand them a pile of Discs, and tell them to install form those discs, then they should install from the discs I GAVE them, not THEIR own discs . . .

            To be honest with you, this isn't about WGA, it's about how bad CompUSA has gotten . . .
          • BINGO!

            Linux User 147560
    • Come tell my friend he's a fool

      You'll regret it. Seriously.
      Ed Bott
      • Money returned

        Didn't really mean to make that last comment sound quite so blunt. But my friend/client is certainly no fool, and the implication is that it's somehow his fault that he trusted a national business that then turned around and ripped him off.

        Anyway, there's a happy ending: CompUSA gave him a full refund and an apology.
        Ed Bott
        • That's good to hear.

          Nice to know there are still businesses with ethics. ]:)
          Linux User 147560
          • CompUSA? Ethics?

            I'm sorry. I'm dizzy from laughing so hard.
        • Hopefully the Tech got fired . . (nt)

        • would they refund the average Joe

          Lucky for your friend that he had you.

          What would the fate of the average Joe be, who is not technical and has no connections.
          • Good question

            Sooner or later, the WGA message would have popped up. However, the fact that I was there allowed me to verify that the problem was caused by the CompUSA tech. They tried to stonewall my friend, and if I hadn't prepared him for battle he probably wouldn't have gotten justice.

            I'm wondering how many other clients this tech has victimized...
            Ed Bott
      • I don't think so...

        I don't regret to many things. ]:) And yes I can be an arrogant SOB. Surviving what I have over life I think I have earned it. ]:)
        Linux User 147560
  • Reinstallation and Imaging Software

    I frequently fix computers that have been "done-in" by their owners (had some great idea to "improve" the computer or remove some "unneeded" files). Therefore I find myself doing these type of re-installations regularly, and on the cheap.

    Imaging software is great when restored on an identical configured machine. However, a tech should NOT install an image from a completely different machine. Even though plug-and-play tries to rebalance everything, it's just not the clean way to do it. It can lead to unexpected errors.

    The CompUSA $600 fee was FAR in excess of reasonable. And in NO EVENT should they install software that was NOT genuine!!!

    Ed is right to point out how easy WGA made it to "get right" with Microsoft by using the machine's proper license key, without having to re-install it all.

    Sure, it would be great if we had NO hassles with product keys and such, but that's just part of the cost of life in the Windows world.

  • How Many Jaws Dropped?

    That is crazy! $600? I am wondering though if your buddy at least got a quote for what this service was going to cost? I am sure they would have told him it would run X amount of dollars. If he said yes to that crazy amount then surely he didn't shop it around. I am always surprised when I see people carrying the systems into the "Big Box" stores and getting repairs done on the systems when Mom and Pops could probably have done it for a lot cheaper. Strangly enough Ed, in Tucson we have the only remaining CompUSA in Arizona. The people who run that one seem to have been there for awhile and while the price for service is up there I have never heard of a WGA issue like the one your friend ran into.

    Having the Validation and Authentication I think has made it easier for the system builder or small shop that wants to do it right. How many times have you been approached by somebody wanting to "upgrade" yet not wanting to pay for the upgrade thinking you just have copies laying around for their use. Once Microsoft and others went to the validations, it made it easier to say it once.."No, Microsoft wont allow and protects the software.." This way they are the "bad" guy.

    Good to hear they are getting the money back!