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Microsoft backs off on WGA "phone home" - sort of

eWEEK has just reported that the update pushed out yesterday through Automatic Updates to the problematic Windows Genuine Advantage checker turns off the "phone home" feature, at least on a daily basis.

eWEEK has just reported that the update pushed out yesterday through Automatic Updates to the problematic Windows Genuine Advantage checker turns off the "phone home" feature, at least on a daily basis. According to Ryan Naraine's report:

In the pilot phase, a PC that had installed WGA Notifications checked a server-side configuration setting upon each login, to determine if WGA Notifications should run or not.

This daily configuration file check has been removed in the updated WGA Notifications package released June 27, according to a Microsoft statement sent to eWEEK.

The company said that the Validation component of the tool will still check periodically to determine whether the version of Windows is genuine.

It's not clear what "periodically" means. After fellow ZDNet blogger Ed Bott reported yesterday that Microsoft refused to deny that WGA might be used to disable illegitimate copies of Windows, I suppose this can be viewed as a retrenchment of sorts. In reality, there's no way Microsoft could have reacted this quickly to yesterday's firestorm so I think it's safe to assume that this change is a reaction to the previous wave of complaints registered loudly in the blogs and tech press about the decision to "phone home" every time a user logged in.

While I appreciate and support Microsoft's attempts to curtail piracy, this has been a less-than-stellar demonstration of customer friendliness. Coupled with the opaque explanations offered so far regarding the demise of an end-user WinFS deliverable, this has not been the company's best week for making friends and influencing people. Call it the post-Scoble meltdown.