How to disable WGA notification

How to disable WGA notification

Summary: Microsoft's Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) anti-piracy tool has angered a lot of people and rightfully so in my opinion. Fellow ZDNet bloggers have explained the details of the software along their concerns.

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TOPICS: Microsoft
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Microsoft's Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) anti-piracy tool has angered a lot of people and rightfully so in my opinion. Fellow ZDNet bloggers have explained the details of the software along their concerns.  Ed Bott wrote Microsoft presses the Stupid button and lists the stupid mistakes, starting with "it should never have been included with Critical Updates".  I agree with that and all his points.

I don't have a problem with Microsoft checking to see if the OS is legal -- once. But why over and over?

David Berlind asked Does Microsoft's new WGA disclosure fall short?. The answer to that question is a resounding Y.E.S. Berlind also is concerned, along with many others, that users are "becoming Microsoft's guinea pigs" because the software is in a pre-release test stage. He devotes an entire blog post to the subject. He also posted a most informative image gallery of the WGA installation process.

The other huge concern with WGA is that it phones home daily, or each time you boot up the machine. In fact, some, including Lauren Weinstein, have gone so far as to question if it is spyware. Weinstein got a response from Microsoft on that one, which is posted here. It was never entirely clear to me exactly what information was being sent back to Microsoft. Microsoft responded saying they will change the software so that it checks in only every 14 days instead of each boot up and by the end of the year it will stop pinging Microsoft.  Update: I found this link that tells what information is sent to Microsoft.

I don't have a problem with Microsoft checking to see if the OS is legal  -- once.  But why over and over? Once my machine has been validated, why is it necessary to check repeatedly?  Microsoft posted the answer to that question here.

A: The pilot version of this software periodically contacts Microsoft after validation. The software checks whether a newer settings file is available and downloads the file if one is found. The settings file gives Microsoft the ability to update how often reminders are displayed and to disable the program if necessary during the test period. Unlike validation, which sends system information to Microsoft, this operation is limited to the download of the new settings file. No additional information is sent to Microsoft.

Let me make the distinction between the Genuine Advantage validation and the Genuine Advantage notification.  The notification is what people are objecting to -- being bugged with notifications and the frequent phoning home. If you want to disable this behavior, there are a number of ways to accomplish that. My Digital Life has posted 15 ways to disable and remove the WGA notifications, so take your pick. I didn't remove it on my machines, but I did disable it so I'm no longer bothered by it. Initially I was blocking it with my firewall.  You can see here that Outpost Pro asked for permission each time to allow wgatray.exe to access the network because it was launched by Winlogon as a hidden process. 

wga-s.jpg

Each time I got this warning, I chose to block it.  But I found a better long term solution that's easy and doesn't have any harmful repercussions. I downloaded and ran Autoruns from SysInternals, clicked on the Winlogon tab, and unchecked WgaLogon as seen in this screenshot.  

autoruns-s_2.jpg

Apologies for the small image but the space is limited.  You can click here for a larger view. Now WGAtray.exe no longer starts up with Windows and no longer wants to phone home. It can be re-enabled simply by checking the adjacent box.  I like this method because you, the user, are in complete control. Eventually the Genuine Advantage Notification won't be an issue, but for now, this is the best workaround I've found and doesn't involved altering or cracking the software or using tools by unknown coders.

Topic: Microsoft

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20 comments
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  • WOW ..... That was quick.

    Another new blog entry already. Hmmmm.

    Folks you may wish to read the comments on the subject immediately preceding this one.
    Webgrrrl
    • NOTE:

      Please know also that comments made on the last subject, having been swiftly buried by this new subject, are also in response to the topic as it appeared before she "updated" it.
      Webgrrrl
  • You said it

    [i]"I like this method because you, the user, are in complete control.[/i]

    That kind of thinking is good and why many choose Linux over Windows.

    Everything is out in the open. No guesswork involved.

    Thanks Suzi :)
    D T Schmitz
    • thank you...

      Nice to see you, _dietrich. I still haven't installed SuSE. /hangs head in shame
      One of these days...
      Suzi_z
      • Take your time, Suzi...

        there's no rush, we can wait. :D
        Tony Agudo
  • Why not use msconfig?

    Windows already has a built-in tool for controlling what runs at startup -- click Start, then Run (or press the Windows key and R at the same time) and type "msconfig". Use the selective startup tools to deselect wgatray from the list of apps that runs at startup.

    Seems to me this would work better. I'll probably check to make sure this works after I boot up my PC (was on vacation and haven't played any games since then; I've been using my Powerbook the whole time).
    buran
    • That would work but...

      It doesn't appear in msconfig. Wgatray is attached to Winlogon and you can't exactly disable Winlogon, and it doesn't appear in msconfig either.
      Suzi_z
    • Use Spybot S&D instead of msconfig

      It will show it in the tools section for startup items. Uncheck it to disable.
      psi4got
      • Good point

        Spybot Search & Destroy does have an option for WGA. As I said earlier, WGA does not appear in msconfig.
        Suzi_z
  • Microsoft is pathetic...... period....

    Here is a company that is supposed to be writing software to empower users. Software that is supposed to put the user in charge of their computers.

    Instead of empowering users and joining them in their quest to control what software does to their computers, Microsoft has now become an adversary.

    I can remember a day when I had a little confidence in Microsoft software. Now I'm reaching the point of fearing what they will do next. I don't even want to allow updates any more. Sad..... very sad.
    shawkins
    • You're Right Shawkins

      I was once one of Microsoft's biggest fanboys, but now any of my computers (home computers, i'm not in business or a big-shot consultant), that still runs Windows I do not patch, update, or even connect to a Microsoft site. I try to keep them completely isolated from Microsoft.
      Ole Man
  • Disabled, now it thinks its a pirate copy!

    After using autorun to disable wgalogon, XP Pro thinks it is a pirate copy. When I lock the computer, it shows a banner in the lower right-hand corner that reads:
    "This copy of Windows is not genuine.
    You may be a victim of software counterfeiting."

    If wgalogon is re-enabled, the banner goes away.
    yeliab
    • The problem is...

      You have to get rid of all reminince (sp?) of the software. You can bet that Microsoft has a web of dll's in the O/S to surpass people from getting rid of the protective measure.

      Almost kind of like... "Spam". :)
      ju1ce
    • I don't get that

      I turned off update notification, so I don't even get that message. I know when it's patch day (second Tuesday of every month) and follow the news, so I know when to update without notification.
      Suzi_z
  • This is stupid...

    It's counter intuitive because now they are going to have legions of pepole trying to prevent it from running. (This includes legit users like myself).

    I don't like any software phoning home period. I don't care if it's to see if something is pirated or not. Unless I say so, nothing gets out of my firewall or in. No one company or person should have that option but me. I think it's almost an invasion of privacy, and should be considered spam. It's doing something against my will point and period.

    The other fact is, I want to replace my motherboard and video card on my computer. of which I'm holding off on that for now because I'm not sure how it's going to affect me. I could call MS, but then I'd be on a waiting list for 10-20 minutes to get an answer of "How do we know it's legit" and secondly, why do I have to call the company to verify an already legit piece of software I bought?
    ju1ce
  • Windows making me a victim twice

    I bought 3 copies of XP Pro from two different vendors thinking they were legal and paying a legal price. I even went through all the software checks that MS recommends to identify forgeries. Now it turns out that all 3 copies are excellent forgeries. Windows has now made me a victim again by reminding me daily that I was a victim.

    When I called MS to get this resolved, they want receipts that I don't have. So I'm screwed by the forgers and screwed by MS too! I'm sure I'm not alone and I'm sure there are a lot of innocent victims out there like me. I've even heard of big stores carrying forgeries.
    debbiesthemes
  • Kudos to Suzi

    Suzi Turner?s suggestion for using ?Autoruns? to workaround the WGA Logon notification was superb. I also blocked access to WGA in my firewall (Norton Internet Security 2003) which keeps the nag out of the sys tray as well.
    The great irony here is that I originally paid for and thought I had a legal copy of XP Pro but MS put an end to that assumption.
    FYI, I used the ?regedit? technique found at Mydigitallife and was able to obtain IE 7, Media Player 11 Windows Defender and all 67 updates.
    Once again, kudos to Suzi for helping to illuminate the invasive WGA notice
    tcb@...
  • Script to automate disabling wgatray.exe

    Here's a script and instructions that automates one method for disabling wgatray.exe:

    <a href="http://reliancepc.com/ReliancePC/Tips/WGAremoval/WGAremoval.html">Instructions and Script</a>
    Asok Asus
  • RE: How to disable WGA notification

    http://www.analogstereo.com/maserati_spyder_owners_manual.htm
    kk_forums
  • RE: How to disable WGA notification

    It looked like something I did not want to open. My MS software is legal but Does not look legal cannot believe it got past Norton.
    MichaelCantone