“Aside from basic trust issues–Apple, for example, does not burden users with Product Activation or any similar anti-piracy technologies in its Mac OS X operating system–Microsoft made two major mistakes with WGA,” Paul Thurrott writes for SuperSite for Windows. “The first was to silently post a beta version of the tool to Windows Update as a Critical Update, thus ensuring that it was quietly and underhandedly installed on hundreds of millions of customers’ PCs: I mean, seriously. Is Microsoft honestly making guinea pigs out of its entire user base?”
Thurrott writes, “The second mistake was that WGA Notifications was also ‘phoning home’ information to Microsoft on a regular basis. That’s right: Not only was the software secretly installed on your PC, but it then regularly contacted Microsoft servers and provided them with data about the instances of pirated and nonpirated software out there… After a few days of freaking out customers, Microsoft finally changed WGA in mid-June 2006 so that it wouldn’t phone home every single time a PC rebooted, which is how frequently it had been doing so. Now, WGA will still send back piracy data to Microsoft the first time it tests a system, and then it will only sporadically phone home after that. The company also released a set of instructions for disabling or removing the ‘pilot’ version of WGA though Microsoft contends that the final version of the software, due soon, will not support these activities.”
Thurrott writes, “After the dust had settled, sort of, I was still sort of curious what WGA looked like on a system that was suspected of being pirated. This week, I got my wish: A copy of Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005, installed in a virtual machine, came up with various WGA alerts after I installed a bunch of updates from Windows Update.
“You’re probably wondering how it is that I’m running a pirated copy of Windows. It’s a legitimate question,” Thurrott writes. ” Truthfully, I can only imagine what triggered these alerts. The software was installed to a VM a long time ago and archived on my server. I no doubt used a copy of XP MCE 2005 that I had received as part of my MSDN subscription. If the WGA alerts are to be believed, it’s possible that Microsoft thinks I’ve installed this software on too many machines, though that seems unlikely to me. I can’t really say.”
“Anyway, that’s what it looks like to be a suspected pirate. Like many people who will see these alerts, I don’t believe I did anything wrong. I’m sure that’s going to be a common refrain in this new era of untrusting software and companies. Ah well,” Thurrott writes.
Full article with screenshots here.
[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Chris” for the heads up.]
MacDailyNews Take: “Ah well?” That’s it? That’s the reaction? A bit blasé, don’t you think? Microsoft has their sufferers so beaten down, it seems that they’ll accept just about anything. And to think we thought an annual fee to “protect” Windows from itself was the capper; now they just say “ah well” when Mafiasoft calls paying customers thieves. Where do you want to bend over today? The power of Stockholm Syndrome never ceases to amaze. Most probably, Bill Gates himself could show up at Thurrott’s front door, punch him square in the nose, calmly get back into his limo without uttering a word, and Thurrott would still be lined up at midnight for Windows PigLipstick if and when it’s ever released.
Life’s too short. Get a Mac.