Microsoft Corp. acknowledged Wednesday that it needs to better inform users that its tool for determining whether a computer is running a pirated copy of Windows also quietly checks in daily with the software maker.
The company said the undisclosed daily check is a safety measure designed to allow the tool, called Windows Genuine Advantage, to quickly shut down in case of a malfunction. For example, if the company suddenly started seeing a rash of reports that Windows copies were pirated, it might want to shut down the program to make sure it wasn't delivering false results.
"It's kind of a safety switch," said David Lazar, who directs the Windows Genuine Advantage program.
Lazar said the company added the safety measure because the piracy check, despite widespread distribution, is still a pilot program. He said the company was worried that it might have an unforeseen emergency that would require the program to terminate quickly.
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