Microsoft Pledge: No More WGA Funny Business

Microsoft has been painstakingly reviewing the operations and procedures behind its Windows Genuine Advantage license validation tool, with a view to ironing out glitches that have cause problems for legitimate Windows users. Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) is designed to combat piracy by installing software on users' PC that periodically checks to see if their version of Windows is authentic before allowing them to download updates.

In a Tuesday Weblog entry, Alex Kochis, senior product manager in the Windows Genuine Advantage group, said the WGA team has been studying its WGA operations and processes and will handle future WGA issues more efficiently than it has in the past. WGA has been a source of much frustration for users since it was launched in 2005, and recent incidents have fanned the flames of WGA loathing among Microsoft's customers and partners.

The WGA team has changed the way it rolls out updates to the back-end servers and has also been shoring up the infrastructure on which WGA is based. In addition to revamping its monitoring of WGA servers, Microsoft is also implementing 24x7 customer support and phone based technical support to its North American customers, Kochis wrote.

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the way i see it is if i have to take my time in calling microsoft i should be able to charge them a fee lets say 50.00 each call due to them wasteing my time because they think that my copy of the os is pirated each and everytime that i would have to verify my copy of the os.

after 90 days of free phone support they charge a fee. so what stops the end user of chargeing a fee to microsoft for the unnecessary wpa/wga Phone calls to verify that the copy is Legal.

Damn right, best comment in here.
Was already worried tho, my legally bought Vista Ultimate OEM might be infected. By refusing to announce Microsoft that I bought a copy of their OS I was more or less forced to find other ways and that Timer thing *coughcough* helped alot. As far as I can tell it's not infected tho.

@ bluarash ... I'll take those prices any day of the week if thats what they actually charged here i new Zealand

Microsoft Windows XP Home OEM $199.00nzd
Microsoft Windows XP Professional OEM $302.63nzd
Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium $515.00nzd
Microsoft Windows Vista Home Premium OEM $205.88nzd
Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate $883.63nzd

and M$ wonders why people Pirate their O.S. and take the time to crack/hack their dumb ass attempts at protection if they made it more affordable then piracy would decrease exponentially

What's WGA again? bwaahahahaha

Although I would buy it if it was like 129 dollars or less. Yeah... I'm real happy with Vista right now, but I'd be even happier if I had the box sitting up there on my desk It's kinda like when you get a motherboard, you WANT the box with all it's accessories, don't want no OEM(even if it's cheaper) or OPENBOX deal. I must have that box!!!!

I agree. If microsoft would lower their prices. heck. make a vista ultimate full version $99. I would buy it in a heartbeat.

There is no way i would fork $250 for vista ultimate. Unless someone donates me one of them trees that grow money, then sure.

Agreed. While computers and all other software and hardware devices keep dropping in price and increasing in value, the only thing that stems the tide is Microsoft.

We gave them this monopoly, and now we're paying the price...to them.

excalpius said,
Agreed. While computers and all other software and hardware devices keep dropping in price and increasing in value, the only thing that stems the tide is Microsoft.

We gave them this monopoly, and now we're paying the price...to them.

It was Gates' ability to write a contract that allowed for him to make Windows what it is now. People were just buying toasters as far as they were concerned.

Won't work, it won't matter how cheap it is people will still pirate it. Fact of the matter is price isn't the issue, the issue is alot of people rather something for nothing and that is what ruins it for everyone else. A perfect example was that Office 2007 beta (I think, it might of been Vista but I can't remember, but I'm sure someone will know what I'm on about?) where MS charged something like $2 for it and people complained about it and tried to get it for free elsewhere...so no, price is not the issue here.

I am sorry but I have to take some issues with what you are saying. For starters, you are taking two arguments that are not related and placing them within a contextual argument. The reason people complained about paying $1 for the beta version of Office was because it was a departure from their "recent" practices of not charging for pre software releases. It was only mild complaining expressed through vocal displeasure.

Second, charging $399 for the top version of Windows is a bit out of line. At the release of Windows XP, the Home edition was $199 and the Pro was $299, while at the introduction of Vista had increased the price from $239 to $399, not counting the crippled Home Edition without Aero. This is roughly a $100 price increase. A price range that has changed very little since the introduction of the Windows 95. I think this will simply encourage people who need the software and are not likely to pirate software in the past to actually consider using a place like the Pirates Bay (elect).

Windows 95 $209, 1995
Windows NT 4.0 Workstation $314, 1996
Windows 2k Pro $299, 2000
Windows XP Pro $299, 2001

People are essentially paying a tax for a failing Western economy (short term) and the inability of a company to release another product outside of a five year time line.

Some of these comments demonstrate a total lack of understanding what WGA actually IS (and for some, what Windows is)

WGA was never intended to "combat" piracy. Microsoft isn't as stupid as people would like to think. They know that whatever they do, someone will figure out a way around it. This is only natural since Microsoft themselves admitted computer code can never be perfect.

WGA is designed to prevent casual copying and alert those who don't know any better if their copy is counterfit or illegal. That is all. Will people figure out a way around it? Sure. But for the "average" consumer they won't be able to lend a copy of XP to all their friends and have them install it.

C_Guy said,
But for the "average" consumer they won't be able to lend a copy of XP to all their friends and have them install it.

I think you severely underestimate how people nowadays can find pretty much anything via Google in a matter of minutes.

You can install Vista and crack away all activations, all checks and make it completely "legal" to the WGA/WU by going to Google, searching for a suitable program and downloading it. Even the whole installation is completely automated - you just press OK a few times and that's it. Even your mother could do it.

daPhoenix said,
You can install Vista and crack away all activations, all checks and make it completely "legal" to the WGA/WU by going to Google, searching for a suitable program and downloading it. Even the whole installation is completely automated - you just press OK a few times and that's it. Even your mother could do it.

welcome to the botnet

Quote - C_Guy
Some of these comments demonstrate a total lack of understanding what WGA actually IS (and for some, what Windows is)


Just be careful not to mistake the apparent misunderstanding of the stated, or perhaps even the actual intentions of any kind of anti-piracy measure, no matter what the scale, for people who are fully aware of the actual effect of it wearing down their rights, and the motivation of the general public to resist further restrictions further down the line.

yakumo said,
Just be careful not to mistake the apparent misunderstanding of the stated, or perhaps even the actual intentions of any kind of anti-piracy measure, no matter what the scale, for people who are fully aware of the actual effect of it wearing down their rights, and the motivation of the general public to resist further restrictions further down the line.

Piracy is only the excuse. The Corporate don't like it when human rights get in the way of profit.

excalpius said,

nothing but FUD.

happen to run one do you? trying to help keep the numbers up?

Seriously though, it's not FUD, just because you can find cracks/keygens that are clean, doesn't mean they all are, many that originated clean, are not clean very rapidly afterwards after being re-uploaded by people with ulterior motives, especially if they're pulled off a website rather than the system used for wherever they are originally released.

sure there's a lot of FUD pushed out there, do some rootkit research and you find youtube videos trying to prove X or Y group is pushing rootkits for example, I don't believe most of them are (hell a lot of crackers these days probably really are doing it just to bypass the DRM to let people who have legitimately bought the product, use it without all the hassle) either the video propagator is pushing FUD, or they got a post release infection.

That in NO WAY however discredits the fact that huge numbers of people looking for the easy option and getting hold of illegal software are exposing themselves to massive security risks.

Anyone that has to deal with full diagnosis of public machines and tracking infection sources would know this.

And besides, are you really as good at PC forensics as you think you are?

If they are running a good AV...as MOST users are...then this is all FUD.

This FUD is put out there by the companies to keep casual users in Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt about the occasional piece of pirated software...and that's the very definition of FUD.

Regardless, most professional packages are priced so high because businesses and professionals HAVE to buy them for their companies and jobs AND have the resources to do so. Whereas most "pirates" are casual users and "collectors" who might buy the software if it was consumer priced, but then the company would have to increase costs of tech support etc.

So, all of these major companies figured out a long time that is was more profitable to sell and support 1,000 copies of say PhotoOfficeWebDesigner at $1,000 per suite instead of 10,000 users at $100 per suite.

Therefore, they accept a certain level of "piracy" in order to facilitate early adopters, students, enthusiasts, cheapskates, collectors, and casual hobbyist users, but really enforce (via the BSA) corporate piracy issues.

For example, "piracy" gave Microsoft a world wide OS monopoly and made Photoshop (worst paint interface ever) the industry standard for image manipulation.

And that's the fact, Jack.

AV doesn't catch everything, period, advanced heuristics are all very well, but it's still really just an endless game of catchup. And even if they could catch all, all the pirates do is jump up and down screaming 'false positive' and preach that as it's such a low level OS hack (as an OS activation from the orriginal discussion) you have to disable your AV to install it.

this situation is actually NOT helped in the slightest by AV companies accepting money from corporations to brand keygens/cracks as 'generic.keygen.w32' (made up example) that are not rootkits, viruses or trojans, and delete them from peoples systems.

When they do that they're not security companies, but corporate enforcers, and it just makes it easier for black hats to spread disinformation, increase the FUD against anti-piracy measures, and convince more people X thing that actually really is an infection is a false positive.

good AV (NOT looking at you Norton), rootkit detection, anti spyware all help, but take time and often experience to run, and are performance hogs many disable anyway.

the whole main point here and in my original posts was no matter how experienced YOU or any of the other neowin posters are, (I'm sure half the people on neowin , should they have to cleanse a clients machine (not accusing anyone of piracy here) you'd know how to at the very least run Spybot, Gmer, or track infection sources with ProcMon at the very least) there is a huge number of people out there who are NOT, they don't run security software, and/or are easily duped into disabling it to install any of the crap they pull off the internet, those who are going after illegal software are infinitely more at risk, and once their machine is infected it's not just they that suffer (private data theft) but others online (DDoS)

I got a WGA install update this week when visiting windows update.

I think M$ should drop their prices, as they have a lot less piracy than they used to.

It was always about maximizing the few remains iotas of profit the company wasn't tapping...for the stockholders.

IF piracy was keeping prices high, then Vista wouldn't have been released in 8 ridiculous versions at 8 ridiculous price points.

IF WGA was working then piracy would have been down and then Vista would have been cheaper to buy.

IF WGA was working, then you wouldn't be able to find all MS products on the streets of Hong Kong for cheap.

WGA was always about stopping YOU the savvy user from sharing your copy of the OS with your not-so-savvy neighbor/friend/buddy. Making that inconvenient enough that you'd tell them "just go buy an OEM copy at Fry's".

And in that regard, it has been a successful program, from the MS perspective.

But in any other regard, it has been a colossal failure, ****ing off everybody EXCEPT the pirates.

excalpius said,
It was always about maximizing the few remains iotas of profit the company wasn't tapping...for the stockholders.

IF piracy was keeping prices high, then Vista wouldn't have been released in 8 ridiculous versions at 8 ridiculous price points.

IF WGA was working then piracy would have been down and then Vista would have been cheaper to buy.

IF WGA was working, then you wouldn't be able to find all MS products on the streets of Hong Kong for cheap.

WGA was always about stopping YOU the savvy user from sharing your copy of the OS with your not-so-savvy neighbor/friend/buddy. Making that inconvenient enough that you'd tell them "just go buy an OEM copy at Fry's".

And in that regard, it has been a successful program, from the MS perspective.

But in any other regard, it has been a colossal failure, ****ing off everybody EXCEPT the pirates.

Exactly.

I also agree with the above. Microsoft didn't grow huge in the software business because they had powerful antipiracy systems, because they hadn't. They had far less than now, actually. One can also actually wonder where MS would be today if they had from the start had some hypothetical very good antipiracy system. I'm far from convinced this is even a good idea, especially with the bad PR coming from it when it fails (because it's only a matter of "when", not "if" ) occasionally, and from the botnet trouble that comes from clients that can't patch themselves.

Why does everyone keep bringing up the patch thing? Not passing WGA doesn't block you from security patches. I thought everyone knew this by now?

WGA checks on optional software downloads. Any important and critical security updates don't check. MS has said so already months ago.

Well, it checked up until just recently for IE 7, and I'm sure there's been other examples too of preventing people failing the checks from having improved security.

It doesn't stop people running the OS, but it DOES stop many non IT savy users getting updates, and that just utterly shafts the world when their infection ridden botnet participating machines are online.

No it doesn't stop them from getting updates. Bypassing WGA and PA makes it easy to continue getting updates. Most patches are just a click or two to install. And for those who aren't able to they can always find someone who can do it for them. Face it. These so-called anti-pirate methods are a total failure and always will be.

I had a legit copy of both XP and Vista and when they both deactivated just because of driver updates I just bypassed these scams in order to continue using them. Because of Vista's many, many. many other problems I have switched over to Ubuntu Linux now and I am quite satisfied with its stability and reliability as well.

You seem to think non IT savy users will even found out about the existence of a patch, let alone spend any time trying to find an alternate download of it? or even give a damn in the first place?

face it, huge numbers of them don't care, and wont look, or even know their system needs patching, these are the people after all who on legitimate systems would just have auto update enabled and let MS push anything onto their systems at any time.

and that's not even yet mentioned the huge number of people blissfully unaware their system isn't actually running legit software in the first place, who are expecting it is probably updating itself, or not aware OS's should ever need updates.

yakumo said,
You seem to think non IT savy users will even found out about the existence of a patch, let alone spend any time trying to find an alternate download of it? or even give a damn in the first place?

face it, huge numbers of them don't care, and wont look, or even know their system needs patching, these are the people after all who on legitimate systems would just have auto update enabled and let MS push anything onto their systems at any time.

and that's not even yet mentioned the huge number of people blissfully unaware their system isn't actually running legit software in the first place, who are expecting it is probably updating itself, or not aware OS's should ever need updates.

Still does nothing to stop piracy and only harms the customers.

Amen.

I wish they would just do away with the WGA and Product Activtion. I just love how they have zero trust in their customers. In this situation, it's the pirates who win, because they don't really have to worry about activation or WGA. They can reinstall as many times as they want and not have to worry about it.

WGA and PA isn't fair to customers, like me, who went out and bought Windows. Already, I've had to reactivate my copy by telephone all because I updated my DVD-Rom firmware.

Microsoft, wake up and realize you're only hurting your legitimate customers, while pirates are able to format and UPDATE their copies with no problem.

I didn't pay $200 for Windows Vista Ultimate (OEM) to be treated like a criminal by MS.

EDIT: Comment was supposed to go under the first one.

A word of advice: Just drop the WGA, please.

It doesn't help "combat piracy" any more than all the previous half assed attempts Microsoft has been trying.

Activation did nothing, WGA does nothing - if someone wants to pirate the stuff, they can and most importantly - they will. Pirates will always manage to duplicate the software or run the applications while emulating another device, a kludge or a cd/dvd.

With the widespread adoption of the internet, getting cracks/hacks is trivial even for the most inept of computer users. WGA doesn't even prevent downloading software directly from Microsoft web site nor does it even prevent you from installing the software where WGA is "integrated" since you can simply remove the check by tampering a single DLL most of the time.

Bottom line: If someone wants to copy it, they will. There's zilch you can do about it other than spend millions that would be better off invested in improving existing products.

But it's not about stopping piracy - it's about informing people that don't know they're running pirated versions. Microsoft made a mistake by trying to address piracy as well but they stepped back from that policy a while back and this is just a continuation of that.

theyarecomingforyou said,
But it's not about stopping piracy - it's about informing people that don't know they're running pirated versions. Microsoft made a mistake by trying to address piracy as well but they stepped back from that policy a while back and this is just a continuation of that.

I have a feeling that most people already know that in the first place. And if someone doesn't, even after they bought it off of the street, than they're retarded.

Foub said,
I have a feeling that most people already know that in the first place. And if someone doesn't, even after they bought it off of the street, than they're retarded.

You'll be surprised to find out how far piracy of Windows goes. This is not about the customer who buys Windows off the streets on a DVD-R with the words WinXP Corp and CD-Key sharpied on it for $5. WGA is to stop vendors from selling Windows illegally. I've seen counterfeits thats hard to distinguished from the real retail versions. There are a lot of small OEM shops that sells PCs pre-installed with pirated version of Windows. And they charge the customer for the OS as if it's legitimate. Without WGA, the average consumer can't tell the difference between a legit Windows from a pirated version.

Now what I don't like about WGA is it stops users from downloading updates. They should remove that part of WGA. Having the little "counterfeit" pop up warning is fine and good enough.

Foub said,

I have a feeling that most people already know that in the first place. And if someone doesn't, even after they bought it off of the street, than they're retarded.

I knew of at least one local system builder that seemed at least kinda legit but ended up putting unlicensed copies of Windows XP on a ton of machines back in 2002 and 2003. My boss bought one of the machines and threw a fit when WGA kicked in around 2005. He was under the impression that his version of windows xp was fully licensed and why shouldn't he have?