April 24, 2006 4:10 PM PDT

Microsoft piracy check comes calling

A correction was made to this story. Read below for details.

Microsoft is taking its fight against software piracy to the desktop.

Starting Tuesday, the software maker will push out a test tool that checks whether the copy of Windows a PC is using is properly licensed. It will be sent to millions of people in the United States, United Kingdom, Malaysia, Australia and New Zealand, Microsoft said Monday.

Following download and installation of the "Windows Genuine Advantage Notifications" tool, users of a pirated copy will see alerts at startup, login and during their use of the operating system. The alerts read: "This copy of Windows is not genuine; you may be a victim of software counterfeiting."

Those who use a legitimate copy of the software won't see any messages, Microsoft said.

People will be able to decline the tool download, said David Lazar, director of the Windows Genuine program at Microsoft. Once installed, the alerts can be suppressed by right-clicking on them when they appear during the running of Windows, but the tool can not be uninstalled, according to Microsoft.

In addition, Microsoft this week is kicking off Office Genuine Advantage, which checks on installations of the productivity package, which includes Excel and Access. The plan is to test out the program initially in seven languages: Brazilian Portuguese, Czech, Greek, Korean, Simplified Chinese, Russian and Spanish.

The efforts are part of Microsoft's antipiracy fight. Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) was launched in September 2004. Since last July, Windows XP users have had to validate their operating system to be able to download additional Microsoft software, such as Windows Defender, Windows Media Player or Internet Explorer 7. Hackers, however, have repeatedly found ways around the checks.

The alerts include a link that goes to a Web site that explains what people with pirated versions of Windows need to do, Lazar said.

Earlier, Microsoft confronted people with the piracy checks when they attempted to download such add-ons. The switch to desktop alerts was introduced on PCs in Norway and Sweden in November 2005, then expanded to the Czech Republic, Denmark, Israel, Poland, and Taiwan in February. Tuesday's move is a further expansion of the trial program.

The WGA expansion is a precursor to the antipiracy features Microsoft is building into Windows Vista, the update to the operating system expected in January 2007. In Vista, certain operating system features will only work as long as it is a properly licensed copy.

Microsoft isn't pushing Windows Genuine Advantage Notifications out to all Windows users, but to a random subset, Lazar said. It is using its Windows Automatic Updates feature to deliver the tool. Automatic Updates, typically used to deliver security fixes, is enabled on the PCs of most Windows users, according to Microsoft.

To date, more than 150 million PCs have participated in the WGA program, according to Microsoft. About 65 percent of users in seven countries have accepted the Windows Genuine Advantage Notifications tool download, it said.

Microsoft's piracy checks won't prevent users from getting security updates. Regardless of whether a system passes the genuine test, security updates have been available to all Windows users, via either manual download or Automatic Updates.

 
Correction: Due to incorrect information provided by Microsoft, this story incorrectly described the ability to uninstall the Windows Genuine Advantage Notifications tool. The tool cannot be removed.

See more CNET content tagged:
Microsoft Windows Genuine Advantage, alert, antipiracy, Automatic Update, Microsoft Corp.

49 comments

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If Windows was worth the price...
maybe people would be more inclined to buy it instead of copy it
from their friends...
Posted by CentrOS (126 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Another little boy justifying it's thievery.
typical little boy bla bla bla.
Obviously windoze is worth it, or you would be loading your PC with OS X or Linux.
Posted by kamwmail-cnet1 (292 comments )
Link Flag
Hi
Its eaasy to cancel that WGA validation tool just download the file that ive downloaded and now i dont have any more problem at the present time...

This file Works for me...

Promise it really works for me....

just try it...maybe you coukd be one of us!!!!

Windows Genuine Advantage Validation v1.5.526.0 Cracked

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://9down.com/story.php?sid=6489.." target="_newWindow">http://9down.com/story.php?sid=6489..</a>.

it cancels the validation tool..you can download updates from microsoft and programs

and it cancels Bill Gates Trick to monopolize this world
Posted by irenic_030 (1 comment )
Link Flag
I am effn tired
of proving I own my MS software. It causes me to download yet more meaningless crap and does absolutely nothing for me. I know if I bought my software or not. Not many people forget paying $300+ for MS Office. I dont have to constantly prove I own my car or my house or my shoes why the heck to I have to constantly prove I own my MS software.
I see a Mac Mini in my future.
Posted by Buzz_Friendly (74 comments )
Reply Link Flag
That's a lot
$300+ dollars huh? I paid $21 for Office 2003 Pro. No, not from a pirate, directly from Microsoft. My company has an arrangement with them. Ofcourse I'm supposed to uninstall it if I stop working for this company. Unless ofcourse I accidentally forget to do so. It could happen.
Posted by nmcphers (261 comments )
Link Flag
Drivers license and Registration please...
"I dont have to constantly prove I own my car or my house or my shoes why the heck to I have to constantly prove I own my MS software."

You do have to prove your ownership from time to time for all those things you have mentioned. Besides, I don't think you can either copy or download your car, shoes or the house.
Posted by The_Nirvana (104 comments )
Link Flag
I don't care what MS does to pirates...
I don't care what Microsoft does to pirates, as long as the verification method is reliable and unintrusive for honest users.
Posted by john55440 (1020 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Agreed.
I bought my workstation copy of XP and it is legally licensed. Microsoft is not taking away ANY of my "freedoms," as some would try to suggest...

Bring it on. Out of control piracy is just one more thing contributing to the cost of Windows anyhow.

Some of us buy what we want with the money we earn through hard work, and have no sympathy for lawbreakers who justify their crimes by preaching the evils of successful corporations.
Posted by David Arbogast (1709 comments )
Link Flag
You should care because....
My 1st Windows XP pro was a full price purchase almost 3 years ago. Now Microsoft has called me a thief. If you really think the MS verification method is reliable and unintrusive, for God's sake, see a shrink.
As for me, I'm going UNIX, and Gates go go....well, take a guess.
Posted by OldTenor (7 comments )
Link Flag
WHO CARE USING MS?
Who care using MS. go open source!
Posted by fboor (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
WHO WANT TINKER OPEN SOURCE?
No thanks. I'd rather spend my time working and BUY my operating system instead of spending my time fiddling with my operating system rather than earning money by working.
Posted by David Arbogast (1709 comments )
Link Flag
OK 'til it stops working
Last month Windows update told me I needed to validate (again); the tool would download but not install. A google on the error message found a forum (on MSN I believe) full of unhappy MS customers with the same problem. A MS MVP threw gas on the flames by posting that, you guessed it, pirated software won't pass.
Posted by KDDogg (3 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Major Problem with your statement
So... pirates aren't getting the service they neglected to pay for. Golly... don't I feel bad.

Major problem with your statement:
&lt;...full of unhappy MS customers with the same problem. A MS MVP threw gas on the flames by posting that, you guessed it, pirated software won't pass.&gt;&gt;

News flash: If they are running pirated software then they are NOT Microsoft customers. I still doubt this statement because the tool is designed not to block updates at all. But even if it is true, who the heck even cares? Thieves don't get good customer service?? GOOD!
Posted by David Arbogast (1709 comments )
Link Flag
um... ok
Great, now when are they going to release Windows Geniune Security or Windows Geniune Reliability? That way I will be alerted at start up that my copy of Windows may contain holes, bugs and other things that would allow people to take over my machine or install spyware/spam without my knowledge.

I agree with the guy that said if Windows was worth the price...
Posted by SeizeCTRL (1333 comments )
Reply Link Flag
How do I get more copies of win XP running?
any web links?
Posted by baswwe (299 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Screenshots of Microsoft Piracy Check
Screenshots of the WGA Notifications

<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://labnol.blogspot.com/2006/04/wga-notifications-this-copy-of-windows.html" target="_newWindow">http://labnol.blogspot.com/2006/04/wga-notifications-this-copy-of-windows.html</a>
Posted by amitpagarwal (8 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Participated
We didnt choose to participate, it is mandatory.
Posted by (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Not my experience
I have Windows XP Pro 64 at home with automatic updates turned off. When I manually visited the Windows Update site and Selected the "Custom" option I saw a list of available updates, including the new WGA tool. I simply unselected it and proceeded to download/install the remaining updates.
Posted by little.willie (18 comments )
Link Flag
Thats bull
come on they offer student versions of software that are made for college students that is discounted to an extreme. You are just trying to justify something, admit it and the below poster is right there are many viable alternatives. If you are going to use a tool then pay the person who wrote it they were once in college--but now they have children to feed.

Last i checked a student version of Office that are special. only costs 149$ and include everything except MS Access (but if you have MySQL or MSSQL 2005 Express who really needs it). Also Student versions of Visual Studio and any other software you can think of exists. Almost forgot MS gives away fullworking versions of VS under the express name for nothing.

Most are discounted between 100$ to as high as 1400$ (windows server platform Enterprise). Even the cals for schools and the result student user are at a high discount. Not to mention if you goto the MS events you can usually get software from them for free.

- Mike
Posted by mxrss (35 comments )
Reply Link Flag
It's sooo annoying!
My PC took a power spike and as can imagine, the troubleshooting was a nightmare. Windows kept corrupting and I couldn't figure out if I had blown the motherboard, the hard drive or both. I had to reinstall Windows several times. Did you know that there is a limit to the number of times it can be installed? I swapped out components until I got it running at 2am. I was then greeted with a message that said something like "You have exceeded the number of allowed insatallations. Windows cannot be validated." It was the first time ever that I wanted to put my fist through my monitor. Had to call the next day and literally BEG MS to allow the validation. This will also happen after a certain number of components have changed. I don't feel that I should have to contact MS if I need to upgrade or repair my computer.
Posted by jane6453 (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Fool
I don't believe your story one bit.

1. You have 30 days to activate Windows after an install.

2. Each copy of Windows can be activated multiple times without problems even after major hardware changes.

Your story just doesn't hold water. In order for it to be true, you would have had to install and activate windows numerous times while repairing your PC. In addition, each time you reinstalled Windows, you would have had to replace a major hardware componenet.

Based on what you said, your mistake was installing Windows a dozen times after a dozen hardware changes, and Activating it each time. (You must have been working on this for DAYS.)

More likely, you installed XP on other PCs and got angry when you couldn't get your primary workstation to activate again.

Regardless... you need to refine your rebuild procedures. You clearly wasted enormous amounts of time and energy. And you need to UNDERSTAND how activation works before you madly start clicking the Activate button.

Still... this message is likely just another anti-MS troll.
Posted by David Arbogast (1709 comments )
Link Flag
WGA does not work... why should this?
Just as a funny note...

The version of XP at my office always fails WGA checks, even though it is a full licensed and legal copy. However, I have 3 pirated copies of XP at home that always pass. I bought legal copies of XP when WGA was coming worried that I would take an outage, but WGA always passed them so I never got around to installing the legal copies. Of course, 2 of those machines will be Linux is a couple weeks. :)

First, I think MS needs to learn how to target ACTUAL pirated copies before it starts freaking out customers by annoying popups. It used to be Windows was just prone to spyware... now it IS spyware.

Boycott Vista :)
Posted by umbrae (1073 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Are people crazy? Or stupid?
&lt;&lt;However, I have 3 pirated copies of XP at home that always pass.&gt;&gt;

If you assume you are anonymous on the Internet, you are living in the past. You have just admitted a crime and stated that you have stolen property in your home.

Why do some people just seem really REALLY REALLY stupid?

*shakes head*
Posted by David Arbogast (1709 comments )
Link Flag
same here
My two legal copies fail MS wGA test, while my son's
pirated copies always pass.
I know I'm honest, but I have to wonder if Microsoft is.
Posted by OldTenor (7 comments )
Link Flag
Piracy is stealing, and stealing is illegal (last I knew)!
Piracy is illegal, and countries need to take it seriously. It's stealing the same Napster's peer-to-peer was!

Most computers come with Windows pre-installed and with some software to use plus there are discounts for some programs and open source / shareware programs available (I use WorkBench instead of MS Projects).

Many people steal because it's easy, cheap and "cool"! They could get a "legal" version but that would take effort, possibly some money and be considered "geeky".

Unfortunately it's difficult to chase down piracy, from sharing your software with friends, buying it from those "discount" spammers or from getting a cheap computer from a shady (or not so shady) company!

In each of these examples the actual "pirate" is a different person (the user, spammer/"seller" or computer seller).
Posted by dragonbite (452 comments )
Reply Link Flag
LOL
Thank you Preacher John for that wonderful speech.
Posted by SeizeCTRL (1333 comments )
Link Flag
^@#^@%^@#^% Bill Gates!!
I've only actively been using computers for anything besides porn and e-mail for about a year and I already hate windows. It's just stupid. There has to be a better way. Is there anywhere I can get info about open source operating systems. I'm ready to convert!!
Posted by Jeff419 (17 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Get a Clue
You can't figure out Windows?

HAHAHAHAHAHA....

And now you are "READY" to convert, but you've not even READ any information on Open Source?

HAHAHAHAHAHA....

Talk about a troll....
Posted by David Arbogast (1709 comments )
Link Flag
Your a moron
i doubt you know anything much less how to use google the fault lies with you and not your opperating system.
Posted by mxrss (35 comments )
Reply Link Flag
look in the mirror
You don't even know the difference between "your" and "you're".
Posted by Jackson Cracker (272 comments )
Link Flag
@()#*)@# Bill Gates
i doubt you know anything much less how to use google the fault lies with you and not your opperating system.
Posted by mxrss (35 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Microsoft - The Modern Day Feudal Lords
They come to collect the taxes you owe and if you can't pay they will take what they want.

M$ Windows pricing is dumb. Who can simply afford to spend $800 on 4 legal copies of Windows XP Pro for a family of four's computers? Microsoft's actions regarding priacy are getting more and more heavy handed. Where does it stop? Consumers are not like F!&#38;*king wet washcloths that can so easily be wrung out!

Microsoft needs to implement some type of household licensing so that people can upgrade their home computers <u>reasonably</u>.

Microsoft needs to lower the pricing of the OS, plain and simple. They justify their ever increasing prices with all the new whizbang features that most people don't really give a damn about. The OS doesn't need to be packed to the rim with every new possible feature. If people really want those features, then they would be willing to buy them as a seperate standalone add-on. Trim the bloat from the OS. Stop bundling functionality that isn't critical so the prices can be lowered.

Everyone boycott Windows Vista!!
Posted by SpinelessWonder (4 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Get A Clue
Microsoft is free to charge what they want... If you have 4 PCs to upgrade, you can pay to upgrade them, or you can fall back to something "Free." Or better yet, buy some cheap Dell machines for $200 each and have new hardware AND a clean OS install for the same price.

Just because you use Windows in no way gives you the right to set the pricing. All you are doing is whining and complaining...

Hey, I think BMWs should be cheaper too... but I don't ***** to the world about it, because BMW can charge what they want, and I have other choices.

Same goes for Microsoft and Windows.
Posted by David Arbogast (1709 comments )
Link Flag
MicroSLOP and WinBLOWS.......
Since the first rendition of windows oh so many years ago, this bloated, overly priced crap is STILL a stinkin' DOS program overlaid with so much add-on garbage 90% of the population does not care about nor use.

Those that think Winblows is not a DOS program, look for the COMMAND line, it's there.
Comand lines are DOS relative only, this isn't Unix, Xenix or Linux, but the same cheap DOS based OS so many have complained about...Like the BSOD(Blue Screen Of Death) that was ALWAYS happening to WinBLOWS machines.

MicroSLOP has NOT introduced anything NEW, just pushed more DOS on us with the lie about how 'great' the 'new' windows OS is or was.

I never have ANY automatic updates checked, I'm not giving MicroSLOP the ability to snoop in MY computer at any time.

Turn OFF ALL automatic updates, even install on demand can provide this company access if you click on the wrong icon or worse.

Downloading anything on my property without my express permission or consent will be pursued in court as a COMPUTER CRIME and CRIMINAL ESPIONAGE and will be sued to the fullest extent of the law.

Danasoft is another criminal company with those damn web IP GIFs that show up on sites as well.

Too bad the feds don't see spyware and adware as some form of computer crime, not like a 10 year old child gainging access to NASA sites, then it's big time crime news when the feds jam a machine gun in the kid's face and drag him off to prison, only then are the feds concerned, anything else gets no attention from OUR ELECTED leaders...remember this when you VOTE!

SCREW MicroSLOP!
Posted by AECRADIO (21 comments )
Link Flag
agree - WinXP is overpriced
If it wasn't for the fact that WinXP is largely ovepriced, my dad and I would be glad to have a real copy, but why should we spend $400 on 2 copies??? And now this update - the WGA; very annoying as it is, i will not get genuine, wasting $200. I completly agree with SpinelessWonder, all these extra nicks and nacks M$ builds into the OS's - half the world's M$ users probably wouldnt care less. WinXP is simply what it is - an operating system used to run other programs. Thats it!!! (Boycott Windows Vista!!!)
Posted by VectorDan (1 comment )
Link Flag
My experience with WGA?....
My troubles with M$ began after I downloaded their little "Windows Genuine Advantage" utility and then tried to download some of the free stuff they offered up to participate.

None of it will install (Saying that I need to validate windows), and M$ support are scratching their heads, because I have sent countless verifications of my product ID number. (the number itself, Screenshots of my number, and even been asked to (and have) downloaded activeX controls to verify my number.) All of these methods, each time have revealed that I have a legit copy of windows (OEM installed by Hewlet Packard).

I'm still going 'round with their support center to resolve this. I keep telling them that it must be their software, (Because it's the only stuff I can't download) and they keep telling me I need to prove that my copy of windows is O.K., even though I have - REPEATEDLY.

I'd un-install the WGA utility, forget about the free stuff, and write off my experience as just another botched download, but the WGA utility is UN-INSTALLABLE.

After researching public reaction to the WGA Program (Which is how I ended up here), I'd also like to say....

I have seen endless debates regarding WGA, on whether or not it is O.K. to pirate software. - It isn't

It also isn't O.K. for M$ to breathe down my neck because I asked why one of their programs wasn't downloading properly.

I have also looked at debates among I.T. professionals about the ethics of M$ "Peeking" into their systems, and wanting to know just what is being sent back to M$. - Ethical? I don't know, but they do look. When there is a problem with WGA (like what I'm dealing with), they suggest you go to a support page that sends you an activeX control that peers into your system and generates a report. The bit of this report you can see details everything from what bios version you have to what browsers, and programs you have installed. Who knows what's on the whole report, because the ActiveX control sends that back to them. I have read a story on another website (<a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.microsoft-watch.com/article2/0,2180,1684754,00.asp" target="_newWindow">http://www.microsoft-watch.com/article2/0,2180,1684754,00.asp</a>) which says that a German audit firm confirms no personal information is sent to M$, but to me the programs I use and what hardware I have is as personal as it gets, short of sending back actual file content. For me, that's the same as if my landlord asked for entry into my house to take an inventory of everything in my home.

If M$ is going to start acting like creeps, I see a Mac in my near future.

So far the whole experience, including everything I've looked up on the subject, reminds me of one of those old movies where some hulking Nazi says "May I Zee Your Papers Please?"
Posted by M$_Victim (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Can't uninstall .......
I can think of one feature built into windows that uninstalls this quite easily, and will 'Restore' your PC back to its state before the installation ;)
Posted by keldon85 (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

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