Microsoft throws in the towel on Office Genuine Advantage

officegenuinecanceled

Microsoft seems to have thrown in the towel on Microsoft Office, that is when it comes to validating your Office program to verify its legitimacy. Late last week, according to zdnet.com and confirmed through a KB 917999, Microsoft has shut down the program to check whether your version of Office is genuine or not.

The silent shutdown of the program by Microsoft was unannounced, but confirmed through the KB article. Microsoft Office will now allow anyone who downloaded templates or pass through add-ins that require the genuine advantage to be completely bypassed, allowing both legitimate and illegitimate versions of Office to download and use extras.

The sudden and silent retirement of Office Genuine Advantage (OGA) means that Microsoft is giving up to prevent piracy of its community-made and in-house developed templates and other downloads.

This still doesn't mean users can install any copy of Microsoft Office, as it still requires you to enter your 25-character key and verify it through Microsoft's activation server. Office Genuine Advantage does not affect Windows Genuine Advantage, which is still an on-going program and required to install some Microsoft programs like Security Essentials.

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

AT&T looks to 4G with Qualcomm deal

Next Story

Google TV delayed to avoid disaster

66 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

Well personally, i hate the idea of losing a time and processing and making the software more buggy, just to validate it.

Good it never worked in the first place.

Well actually that's not actually true because it did. It's just that, there was always some bright spark around the corner who developed a way around it by making Microsoft think it was a genuine Microsoft product.

You know why they did this? - Piracy drives Office adoption. Cutting piracy off turns people away from Office and to more open alternatives which makes it easier for customers to switch from Windows to Linux. Microsoft wants to keep people addicted to Office as long as possible even the pirates.

Vice said,
You know why they did this? - Piracy drives Office adoption. Cutting piracy off turns people away from Office and to more open alternatives which makes it easier for customers to switch from Windows to Linux. Microsoft wants to keep people addicted to Office as long as possible even the pirates.

The big reason I have recommended and personally stayed with Office (despite the availability of OpenOffice.org, and StarOffice prior to that) was the one program that OpenOffice.org/StarOffice lacked - a true e-mail competitor to Outlook. As good as Thunderbird, and even Eudora, are, neither has the sheer power of Outlook as an e-mail client (and that is just as a POP/IMAP mail client; it has nothing to do with Outlook's known capability as a client for Exchange, or even Hotmail). Any of the free *Outlook alternatives* (including those from Microsoft itself, such as Windows Live Mail) has only a fraction of Outlook's capabilities, and I see no reason to deliberately lock yourself in a box. I have nothing against open-source software in general, or Linux in particular (I dual-boot Windows 7 x64 and Sabayon 5.4 x64); however, the very reason why I can't go whole-hog to Sabayon (even if I wanted to) is due to the lack of realistic alternatives to several *applications* (not games) that I run on the Windows 7 side of my PC today. As good as Outlook 2007 was (I called Outlook 2007 the best Outlook ever at the time), 2010 seriously improved things, starting right at the beginning with the Account Setup Wizard. While 2007 supported both POP/SMTP and Exchange clients, 2010 adds IMAP autodetection, along with add-in support for Hotmail, while keeping some surprising built-in capabilities (Outlook is now the only Windows e-mail client that provides designed-in support for sending and reception of faxes via faxmodems - this has been standard in Outlook since Outlook 98).

Actually, it's not "hard piracy" that drives Office adoption; it's more "casual piracy" (the employee that takes the Office CD/DVD home because they want to use the same software AT home that they use at work). This was the same way that WordPerfect (back in the old DOS days) built market share; pre-Office, Word still existed, but WordPerfect, not Microsoft Word, was the business-standard word processing software. (In fact, at that time, WordPerfect cost more than Word; back before WordPerfect Corporation was acquired by Novell, WordPerfect cost more than all of Office Professional. That is retail standalone price, not upgrade price.)

OGA never affected hard pirates (in previous posts, I pointed out how/why); however, it DID affect casual pirates. While that was indeed the intent (which Microsoft made no secret of in several press releases about OGA), it also horked off a large portion of the Office customer base. That made two things abundantly clear to Microsoft:

1. Casual piracy was part of the reason why Office has both the marketshare, and mindshare, it has built up over the years.

2. Horking-off your customers is Bad Juju.

The *second* reason was far more important than the first, as a horked-off customer is far more likely to move to a competing product than a happy one. Also, never mind that Microsoft has every legal right to use such measures to combat even casual piracy; the very fact that not only were these measures gotten around with ridiculous ease, AND that their competitors largely did not use similar methods (for a wide variety of reasons) put Microsoft at a disadvantage in terms of customer relations.

Never mind that the acceptance of casual piracy in terms of productivity software says bad things about us as a society (where piracy of several-hundred-dollar-software is thought of as the equivalent of taking company pens!), horking off your customers is STILL bad PR.

Hmm?
That explains why the 2 copies of Office 2007 I just installed yesterday didn't have that update. Was looking all over heck for it just to see if I had to go through those changes!!

They WERE legal copies too, but I have had the displeasure of being flagged for legal copies of stuff also.

Does this mean new tormented versions won't be checked for being genuine? Because id thrown in the towel after 3 separate torrents I'd gotten for Office 2010 were discovered by MS, after the 3rd time. I went out and bought it.

too bad that office 2010 it needs activation even for corporate its just annoying... i stay with 2007 less hassle

eilegz said,
too bad that office 2010 it needs activation even for corporate its just annoying... i stay with 2007 less hassle

I found 2010 was quite painless and actually a better program than 2007 was.

Raa said,

I found 2010 was quite painless and actually a better program than 2007 was.

Activation was gotten around for Office 2010 from the beginning, just as it was for Office 2007.

In the case of Office 2010 there are no less than *three* different workarounds, and two are entirely self-contained; all three pass through OGA (pre-retirement). Further, both self-contained methods are bitness-neutral (that would be an issue considering that Office 2010, unlike Office 2007, exists in both x32 and x64 varieties). In addition to the liability issue (see my post earlier about legality, liability, and lawyers), maybe someone took to heart Heinlein's Law (what one brain can do, a better brain can undo), and detracted from the real mission - making better software.

Glad they removed it. Despite me having a purchased copy, I've had warnings popping up that I needed to revalidate. It turns out that the key that shipped with my disc was blacklisted. Just another useless feature that was amended. According to MS, 35% of keys out there that are genuine are effected. That's way too much. 3% would have been acceptable.

Izlude said,
Glad they removed it. Despite me having a purchased copy, I've had warnings popping up that I needed to revalidate. It turns out that the key that shipped with my disc was blacklisted. Just another useless feature that was amended. According to MS, 35% of keys out there that are genuine are effected. That's way too much. 3% would have been acceptable.

Izlude - that sort of event happens when warehouses/distribution centers are broken into and software taken. When there is no on-site record of exactly what software was stolen, all the software that was in that warehouse is blacklisted by default. (I'm not talking software piracy, but robbery of the breaking-and-entering sort, AKA grand theft.) It's a consequence of crime - it just does not get the coverage, outside of the trade press, that software piracy is getting (except in the local press).

Fail. They should've kept this going. I've managed to have quite a few customers convert to using legitimate software through the nag screens etc.

I sure hope MS puts something in as a replacement.

Raa said,
Fail. They should've kept this going. I've managed to have quite a few customers convert to using legitimate software through the nag screens etc.)

Yes because it takes more than a 10kB .exe to remove the protection completely, oh wait..

Miuku said,

Yes because it takes more than a 10kB .exe to remove the protection completely, oh wait..

Yes, because a person that hardly knows how to turn a PC on knows how to get said 10kb .exe, let alone how to use it. </sarcasm>

Why complain? Use something with open standards that you can actually "own". Libreoffice, Openoffice, GOffice, KOffice, etc. Any corporation that is "really" going to look for features specific to MS Office are probably going to be running their own WSUS servers and stuff and will have the genuine advantage feature removed anyway.

Fact: Security Checks, and "Anti-Piracy" methods bundled into software/games cause more problems for the paying consumers, than they do for the pirates.

darkthunder said,
Fact: Security Checks, and "Anti-Piracy" methods bundled into software/games cause more problems for the paying consumers, than they do for the pirates.

thank you

darkthunder said,
Fact: Security Checks, and "Anti-Piracy" methods bundled into software/games cause more problems for the paying consumers, than they do for the pirates.

agreed, one of the things ive always found ironic is the anti-piracy warnings on DVD's and Blurays, as only paying customers get to see them, pirated films have them removed.

darkthunder said,
Fact: Security Checks, and "Anti-Piracy" methods bundled into software/games cause more problems for the paying consumers, than they do for the pirates.

Really? How so? Yes some software companies bombard users with anti-piracy measures that that bug the user.. but I find that Windows and Office doesn't bug any paying customers at all. It only asks that once during installation and it's a very quick check when you download extras from their website. In older versions it was a pain but in 2007/2010 it's barely even noticeable.

j2006 said,

Really? How so? Yes some software companies bombard users with anti-piracy measures that that bug the user.. but I find that Windows and Office doesn't bug any paying customers at all. It only asks that once during installation and it's a very quick check when you download extras from their website. In older versions it was a pain but in 2007/2010 it's barely even noticeable.

Because it affects honest users when, erroneously, flag a PAID software as not-legit.

j2006 said,

Really? How so? Yes some software companies bombard users with anti-piracy measures that that bug the user.. but I find that Windows and Office doesn't bug any paying customers at all. It only asks that once during installation and it's a very quick check when you download extras from their website. In older versions it was a pain but in 2007/2010 it's barely even noticeable.

Well, as someone already used as example: All the "Piracy is a crime" adverts and FBI warnings on bought DVDs/Blu-rays. Who is it that gets to see these? The PAYING CONSUMERS. The pirates have long since managed to rip those out of the dvds/blu-rays and have no need to watch these.

[quote=Fritzly said,]

Because it affects honest users when, erroneously, flag a PAID software as not-legit.[/quote

This is such a scapegoat excuse for hating OGA and WGA, so many people (mostly pirates) claim this "fact" because they read it somewhere and are convinced its true.

LiquidSolstice said,

This is such a scapegoat excuse for hating OGA and WGA, so many people (mostly pirates) claim this "fact" because they read it somewhere and are convinced its true.


Or maybe because, you know, it actually happens?

LiquidSolstice said,

This is such a scapegoat excuse for hating OGA and WGA, so many people (mostly pirates) claim this "fact" because they read it somewhere and are convinced its true.

Pirates don't bitch and deal with the problem and forget it even existed.

Well one things we can be sure of, they didn't do it for the customers.

Nothing against MS in particular but if they could get away with it they would have you going to your local police station with a DNA sample to prove you are the true owner of the software.
This program was either too expensive or simply didn't work.

Wonder whats coming next.

Orange Battery said,
Well one things we can be sure of, they didn't do it for the customers.

Nothing against MS in particular but if they could get away with it they would have you going to your local police station with a DNA sample to prove you are the true owner of the software.
This program was either too expensive or simply didn't work.

Wonder whats coming next.

I think next will be going to your local police station with a DNA sample to prove you are the true owner of the software.

derekaw said,

I think next will be going to your local police station with a DNA sample to prove you are the true owner of the software.


Actually not to prove that you "own" it but rather you are "licensed to use" it lol

Orange Battery said,
Well one things we can be sure of, they didn't do it for the customers.

Nothing against MS in particular but if they could get away with it they would have you going to your local police station with a DNA sample to prove you are the true owner of the software.
This program was either too expensive or simply didn't work.

Wonder whats coming next.


and no other software company does this. . .right.

'Genuine Advantage'! The 'Genuine Advantage' belongs to MS because they get assurance that more people have have entered the 25 digit code, paid for their software and jumped through hoops to use the software.

'Genuine Advantage' are horrible weasel words and another example of terrible MS branding.

They should have called it what it was, Software Piracy Protection.

excalpius said,
Yeah, they're probably just renaming it, not shutting anything down...

Actually if you had read the article, you would've been directed to a link where Microsoft explicitly say it's retired, not a name change.

derekaw said,
'Genuine Advantage'! The 'Genuine Advantage' belongs to MS because they get assurance that more people have have entered the 25 digit code, paid for their software and jumped through hoops to use the software.

'Genuine Advantage' are horrible weasel words and another example of terrible MS branding.

They should have called it what it was, Software Piracy Protection.

agreed, if you didnt verify you were treated like a pirate and the software wouldn't run... Once enabled it gave no advantage to pirated copies.

Ruciz said,

agreed, if you didnt verify you were treated like a pirate and the software wouldn't run... Once enabled it gave no advantage to pirated copies.

It did give an advantage. Only legal users who passed could use the feature above, a none genuine copy could not. of course theer are ways to bypass the genuine check...like they have exploits that constantly reset the 30 day free usage period...for forever.

It certainly never bothered me, just like Windows Genuine Advantage doesn't. I'm guessing Microsoft decided it costed them more to maintain it than it was gaining by it, and product activation was sufficient.

Maybe they figured it can be fooled around with? I bet they have some other method in the works though, only time will tell.

bdsams said,
I wonder if it was not effective or they want to dedicate their servers to some other task?
I think it was pretty effective, maybe they just don't care. I mean someone using their software is still someone using their software legal or not.

De.Bug said,
I think it was pretty effective, maybe they just don't care. I mean someone using their software is still someone using their software legal or not.

Close, but no cigar.

The issue is that liability will still attach to Microsoft even for pirated software (legality matters not to lawyers). How else is it that no less than the Supreme Court in their only ruling on the legality of Federal seizure of "personal-usage" cannabis in states where such is expressly permitted stated that even illegal interstate commerce deserves protection (Raich v. Gonzales)? Such a ruling makes no common sense whatever (it basically states that the intent of the Controlled Substances Act is to protect criminals and makes illegal conduct deserving of protection; how much sense does that make?); yet that was the ruling.

James Riske said,
Maybe they figure why bother anymore since everything is heading to the "cloud" eventually.

That's what I was thinking. In a few years they'll have you by a subscription fee, and just cut you off from their end when you don't pay.

To be honest, I never had an issue with the genuine check. I used to hate it in previous versions of Office, but ever since Office 2007, the genuine checks were barely even noticeable and were very quick (often 2 seconds or less)... which is what I experience with Office 2010. It's sad to see it go in my opinion.

still1 said,
well thats good. dont have to deal with all those crappy genuine check.

In all honesty, what was so bad about taking 30 seconds to run a verification check? There's really nothing to hate about it unless you're running a pirated copy.

Trueblue711 said,

In all honesty, what was so bad about taking 30 seconds to run a verification check? There's really nothing to hate about it unless you're running a pirated copy.

I use genuine Office 2010 downloaded from MSDN. I wouldn't mind a check for service pack and other updates but for templates and add-ons that really is annoying.

Why do everyone think one use pirated copy when someone hate WGA/OGA.
I have Technet and MSDN and have genuine copy of Microsoft products.

Trueblue711 said,

In all honesty, what was so bad about taking 30 seconds to run a verification check? There's really nothing to hate about it unless you're running a pirated copy.

many genuine products get flagged as pirated and get functionality shut down.

still1 said,

I use genuine Office 2010 downloaded from MSDN. I wouldn't mind a check for service pack and other updates but for templates and add-ons that really is annoying.

Why do everyone think one use pirated copy when someone hate WGA/OGA.
I have Technet and MSDN and have genuine copy of Microsoft products.

Which you are using for testing/evabluaiton purposes only, of course?

Trueblue711 said,

In all honesty, what was so bad about taking 30 seconds to run a verification check? There's really nothing to hate about it unless you're running a pirated copy.
Well some people don't actually have a legit copy of Office so...

DrScouse said,

Which you are using for testing/evabluaiton purposes only, of course?


Microsoft's MSDN license agreement[4] makes a specific exception for Microsoft Office, allowing the subscription holder to personally use it for business purposes without needing a separate license - but only with the "MSDN Premium Subscription"

Kirkburn said,
Source?

I've had to call Microsoft on a few occasions on *store legit* Windows Vista copies (Didn't install Win7 since I got out of that stuff before it came out) that were, for some reason, flagged as pirated.

They were all OEM products bought from the largest IT vendor our in country so the chance of foul play is pretty much non-existent.

Trueblue711 said,

In all honesty, what was so bad about taking 30 seconds to run a verification check? There's really nothing to hate about it unless you're running a pirated copy.

ironically, pirated copies do not have to do this, as the 'check' is bypassed, which translates to more hassle for the honest individual, esp if their ISP is down at the time of install or something of that effect.

Trueblue711 said,

In all honesty, what was so bad about taking 30 seconds to run a verification check? There's really nothing to hate about it unless you're running a pirated copy.
exactly!!!

Trueblue711 said,

In all honesty, what was so bad about taking 30 seconds to run a verification check? There's really nothing to hate about it unless you're running a pirated copy.

The irony is you can just disable the update and everything still works fine. Also, if you install it on accident and don't want the nagging, you can just use system restore to a point before it was installed and disable it.