Germanys tecChannel has launched an English-language version of its site, and has celebrated with a seriously trainspotter analysis of the interaction between Windows XPs product activation and Redmond central control. Despite (or possibly because of) Microsofts insistence that the WPA process is completely harmless and doesnt send the company any of your personal data, the system has since its introduction been the subject of much paranoid speculation.
The Register has not entirely shared this paranoia, although we do worry about why Windows installations seem to have a general compulsion to chatter with remote systems without entirely sharing the experience with us. And we also reckon the real worry is what Microsoft might do if people really started to trust it. However, the good news for now is that tecChannels investigation indicates that WPAs not a threat to privacy, and shows that it sends the following: Product ID, derived from the product key entered during installation; system locale (IDs you to the nearest country); product code, which is the first five digits of the product key; hardware hash, which is based on the hardware in the local computer, but which does not give Microsoft information on this computers hardware; data from the WPA.DBL file, if one has been created by a previous installation; and the product key itself.
News source: theregister.co.uk