Microsoft hides fact that ‘Windows Genuine Advantage’ antipiracy spyware phones home every boot up

“I was sitting around the other day listing all the things I just love about Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA), Microsoft’s antipiracy tool. But then I discovered a hidden WGA feature that I had never heard about, mostly because Microsoft had kept it a secret. It turns out that WGA actually connects to a Microsoft server every time you boot your PC. That’s right. It’s spyware. Microsoft actually installs a tool on your PC that does nothing more than check to ensure that you’re not pirating Windows, and it does this check every single day and then sends the results back to Microsoft. This insidious behavior was first discovered by Lauren Weinstein, the co-founder of People For Internet Responsibility, and its touched off a debate about disclosure and privacy. But seriously, this is ridiculous,” Paul Thurrott writes for Windows IT Pro.

Full article here.

“Microsoft Corp. acknowledged Wednesday that it needs to better inform users that its tool for determining whether a computer is running a pirated copy of Windows also quietly checks in daily with the software maker. The company said the undisclosed daily check is a safety measure designed to allow the tool, called Windows Genuine Advantage, to quickly shut down,” The Associated Press reports. “The tool, part of the Redmond company’s bid to thwart widespread piracy, is being distributed gradually to people who have signed up to receive Windows security updates. The company expects to have offered it to all users worldwide by the end of the year… So far, about 60 percent of users who were offered the piracy check decided to install it. Once installed, the program checks to make sure the version of Windows a user is running is legitimate, and gathers information such as the computer’s manufacturer and the language and locale it is set for. That information-gathering is disclosed in a licensing agreement. But the agreement does not make clear that the program also is designed to “call home” to Microsoft’s servers, to make sure that it should keep running. At least every 90 days, the tool also checks again to see if the copy of Windows is legitimate.”

“When Microsoft believes a copy of Windows is pirated, the user begins to get a series of reminders that the copy isn’t genuine. Such users also are barred from downloading non-critical updates, such as the new version of its Internet Explorer browser,” AP reports.

Full article here.

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  1. “Microsoft says it will improve Windows Vista’s battery life, but I have to think it will never be as good as that of XP, unless you turn off Aero Glass. And at that point, why bother running Vista?” – Thurrott

    Does this statement by Sir Paul Thuridiot not read as his own admission Vista is nothing more than XP3 with better graphics?

  2. think of the security issues… with lack of updates the older ones become sieves and contagious, bummer for the pirates, and the unsuspecting.

    MW side.. glad to be on this side of the OS war,.. sorry couldn’t control myself. ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”smile” style=”border:0;” />

  3. This is just the first step in Microsoft creating a version of Windows where you have to pay a fee to keep it running, even if you don’t buy an upgrade.

    MS loves this renting idea, it’s not just for music that they want a consistent stream of your money into their pockets.

  4. How else would it know if you were pirating their software? A tiny scroll tied to the foot of a homing pigeon? That’s the point of the tool, fool.

    “I was sitting around the other day listing all the things I just love about Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA), Microsoft’s anti-piracy tool.”
    Wonder what was on this list?
    – Gathers my personal information. Cool!
    – Finds and catalogs MS apps/reg#s on my system. Cool!
    – Dials in to check out if the above is legit… Wait a minute…!

    MDN, It’s nice to hear how demented Thur-rot is from time to time , but please do not link to his site. He gets paid and get justification for his “articles” when he get clicks…

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