Microsoft DRM tool locked out genuine users

Microsoft DRM tool locked out genuine users

Summary: Windows Genuine Advantage servers suffered disruption over the weekend, with XP and Vista users treated as if they had counterfeit software

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TOPICS: Legal
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Microsoft's Windows Genuine Advantage servers experienced severe disruption over the weekend, stopping users validating their Microsoft software.

Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) is the mechanism that Microsoft uses to validate genuine copies of the Windows XP and Windows Vista operating systems. Without WGA approval, users are unable to use many of the features of the operating systems.

The problem arose at the weekend when users of genuine Microsoft software found that their software could not be registered or that some parts of it became unusable, because WGA believed it to be counterfeit. A small storm brewed up in internet forums as users found themselves locked out. InformationWeek reported that around 12,000 users were affected.

The problem was short-lived. It hit late on Friday evening but by the early hours of Saturday morning the problem was fixed, according to a blog posting by Alex Kochis, Microsoft's senior product manager for WGA. Kochis said the problem was with Windows Vista validations which had been "failing on genuine systems".

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"It looks now as though the issue has been resolved and validations are being processed successfully," Kochis wrote. 

WGA has been at the centre of controversy before. Last year, users became critical of the way in which WGA runs validation tools to check whether a copy of Microsoft software is genuine. Most of the criticism concerned the way in which the software pushes out as a "high priority" update alongside security fixes. There were also complaints about the way the WGA software collects information from PCs.

Topic: Legal

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Colin Barker is based in London and is Senior Reporter for ZDNet. He has been writing about the IT business for some 30-plus years. He still enjoys it.

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3 comments
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  • WGA software collects information

    Nobody but M$ knows exactly what info , or how much, WGA is collecting, or what M$ is doing with the information. It just isn't right to give someone open access to your machines, for any reason.
    ator1940
  • Shades of WGA to come from other vendors

    Don't forget that there is also Office Genuine Advantage (OGA) as well that applies to the Office Pack and Visio etc.

    Most sites should already be aware that you are prohibited from downloading any software from MS websites unless you "activate" through the "genuine advantage" program. This requires activation after activation etc as it isn't a once only affair!

    There will be further activation issues to watch out for as Microsoft plans to offer a similar service to independent software vendors whereby they can "control" licensing through activation and other measures similar to the Software Protection Platform.

    Microsoft announced on July 10, 2007 at the Worldwide Partner Conference in Denver, that a new suite of products called Microsoft
    rob.harmer@...
  • Info collected by Microsoft with WGA

    .......ask the guys at PCProfile as they found out what was being collected.
    rob.harmer@...