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  Microsoft "learning" from WGA failures, but the lesson should be: kill it
Time: 10:27 EST/15:27 GMT | News Source: Ars Technica | Posted By: Byron Hinson

The introduction of Microsoft's Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) anti-piracy program was met with emotions ranging from indifference to outright anger by legitimate Windows users. Certainly those who were falsely accused of pirating Windows had something to be upset about, as did the people who suffered from the service being unavailable earlier this year. Even those that have not been caught in the WGA snare are uncomfortable with it: the idea of a low-level system process watching your system for signs of piracy so it can reduce the functionality of your system is just a little Orwellian.

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#1 By 8556 ( at 11/26/2007 11:50:10 AM
Last week I replaced a dead motherboard in a PC. Upon completion of the repair install I was asked by the PC to activate Windows before it would start. So I did that. Then after Windows fired up another screen came up which said the PC needed to be activated within 3 days. Huh? I just did that. So, I activated it again thinking maybe there was a glitch. There sure was. I was informed that the product key already had reached its maximum number of activations. Sure it did, since I just activated it and made no changes in the time since I did os. Next, I made the usual phone call to Bangalore, which took 5.25 minutes. However, with the requiring of multiple activations, and the phone call, the total time was about 15 minutes. Since I charge customers for my time, Microsoft has in effect added another "tax" to end users.

WGA sucks.

#2 By 61 ( at 11/26/2007 12:04:05 PM
The whole process doesn't really make any sense.

1. They pay their developers to develop the activation process, lockouts, etc...
2. They pay their developers to continue to develop it to lock it down more and to fix any bugs that allowed for cracks to be made
3. They pay people to be available 24/7/365 to take a phone call for activation. Now when they ask you if it is only on one PC or if it is installed on other places who is going to say "oh yeah, I have it on like 6 machines"? 9/10 if it is installed on more than one then the person will just say it is installed on one and get their key to activate it.

There is a lot of time and money invested into this and it doesn't really prevent anything.
It does however make it harder on customers, especially on repair techs to fix a PC for a customer who usually doesn't have their Windows or restore CD or cd-key.

Abandon the whole thing and just let us relax already. There is probably more money spent than is saved from preventing multiple installs, not to mention customer frustration.

#3 By 1896 ( at 11/26/2007 5:10:25 PM
WGA is the main reason why I bought my first Apple; While I am not crazy for Apple GUI the idea that when I boot the computer I do not risk to see messages about "Activate now etc. etc." is a relief. Again I am not saying that I will surely move to Apple but WGA made me considering it. If this is waht MS calls a success..

#4 By 10022 ( at 11/26/2007 7:11:58 PM
maybe I'm missing something here, but I never understood why a something thats designed to prevent "casual" copying feels the need to lock out a user. I can understand checking the system everytime you udpate or boot, but if I have a legit key and activate, then anything less than a mother board replacement should not invalidate the activation.

If I am the first to activate the key, then MS should know its MY computer and anyone using later is using a pirated version. I should be able to upgrade every part as much as I want with out worriying about activation...if this was just about pirating...

They also try to tell you its about secuirty for the end user, and it could be used as such, its not really but it could- check the windows files and do a basic root kit detection and if it comes back good then you have a "Genuine" copy. The problem here is why would you lock out the user - why not warn, then boot them into safe mode?

The real problem with WGA is that its nothing more than a fear tactic wrapped up in an annoyance to disguise the fact that it is flawed by design.

If they want to fix it then they have to take the hardware upgrades out of the picture and warn/nag ONLY when its been proven to be a pirated copy BEFORE THEY GET IT INSTALLED - it needs to be very hard for a good machine to go bad (and that should be a real hack/comprimise) and it should never lock out a user.

If the process was good, it should be easy to detect an attempt to re-use a key and hard for a good machine to go bad. It would also make keygen impractical by "activating" keys on the MS side only when printed to a disk or generated by a sale of a VOL KEY or MSDN - with a key space of a few trillion keys even a few hundred million will be hard to find and you are really only worried about VOL keys...

VOL keys should not be unlimited. NO key should activate a million machines!! Keys should not be stored on the machine. It should be very hard to leak a key in a well managed environment who really needs to see it??

It also essentially means that the scanning needs to be done on the server side - and not be trusted to the local computer to determine its authenticity AND they need to understand the basic design flaw and realize that the bottom line is there is no way they can be 100% sure they have detected a pirated copy even if they did scan the machines using their own trusted machine.

And it just gets harder with softGrid and other application level virtualization stuff...

People HATE this feature Microsoft! Dont become like Congress and ignor the will of the people just becuase you are the rulling crowd.

#5 By 17996 ( at 11/27/2007 1:45:07 AM
#3 -- You're right, Mac OS doesn't have WGA, because it doesn't need to -- you've already bought an expensive Mac; Apple's already got its money from you.

#6 By 1896 ( at 11/27/2007 4:05:52 AM
I bought and paid a Microsoft product and an Apple one, the latter received my money as did the former.
If I feel something is overpriced I do not buy it, simple as that.
I never understood people complaining about MS or other brands offering "too expensive" products; if you feel they are too expensive do not buy them, if the majority of the population agree with you prices will go down.

This post was edited by Fritzly on Tuesday, November 27, 2007 at 04:07.

#7 By 2960 ( at 11/27/2007 2:34:54 PM
One thing Microsoft has no interest in is other people's time.


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