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Lawsuit Claims WGA Is Spyware 360

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the advantage-microsoft dept.
twitter writes "Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA), Microsoft's euphemistically named digital restrictions scheme, is the target of another spyware and false advertising lawsuit. 'Microsoft this week was sued in a Washington district court for allegedly violating privacy laws through Windows XP's Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) copy protection scheme. Similar to cases filed in 2006, the new class action case accuses Microsoft of falsely representing what information WGA would send to verify the authenticity of Windows and that it would send back information [daily IP address and other details that could be used to trace information back to a home or user]. The complaint further argued that Microsoft portrayed WGA as a necessary security update rather than acknowledge its copy protection nature in the update. WGA's implementation also prevented users from purging the protection from their PCs without completely reformatting a computer's system drive.' There were at least two other lawsuits launched in 2006 over WGA. According to the Wikipedia article, none of them have been resolved. The system is built into Vista and Windows 7."
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Lawsuit Claims WGA is Spyware

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  • Nothing will happen (Score:5, Informative)

    by sconeu (64226) on Monday September 07, 2009 @06:47PM (#29344695) Homepage Journal

    Except that MS has to hand out vouchers for more MS products, giving them an even bigger market share.

    [see Sony Rootkit settlement for details]

    • by causality (777677) on Monday September 07, 2009 @07:05PM (#29344845)

      Except that MS has to hand out vouchers for more MS products, giving them an even bigger market share.

      [see Sony Rootkit settlement for details]

      Yeah, and that's what's broken about the way the law handles corporations.

      Corporations should face jailtime for any crime or activity that would result in a person being incarcerated. Jail for a person means the loss of most freedoms and it also means they are separated from the rest of society. "Jail" for a corporation should mean that all assets are frozen and all business activities are forced to halt for the same number of days that a real person would have been incarcerated. If the lost sales result in bankruptcy, that's too bad, just like if a person with a few years to live commits a violent crime and gets locked up for a long time and dies in prison, that's also too bad.

      This to me would be the proper treatment of "corporations have the same rights as real individuals." A good alternative might be to keep the limited liability nature of a corporation for any failures or accidents, but to remove it and allow for personally prosecuting and imprisoning any and all members of upper management who knowingly support an illegal action wherever intent can be proven.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by John Hasler (414242)

        > Corporations should face jailtime for any crime or activity that would result
        > in a person being incarcerated.

        This is a civil lawsuit. Individuals who lose civil lawsuits are not incarcerated. They are ordered to pay compensation just as corporations are.

        > This to me would be the proper treatment of "corporations have the same
        > rights as real individuals."

        Corporations do not have the same rights as natural persons in the USA.

        > A good alternative might be to keep the limited liability natu

        • by node 3 (115640) on Monday September 07, 2009 @08:10PM (#29345291)

          Corporations do not have the same rights as natural persons in the USA.

          That is a deliberately misleading statement. Shame on you for using it.

          Corporations have rights as persons. The distinction of "natural persons" is silly. It should be that persons are human beings. Period. Calling corporations "persons" (but not "natural persons") leads to a class system were some "persons" (corporations) have rights/indemnities that actual human persons do not.

          That is [management going to jail for crimes the company commits] already the law in the USA.

          Not really. There are situations where that happens, but tell me, how many Ford executives went to prison for the Pinto? Or that guy that owns the peanut factory that was responsible for killing people a year or so ago? Or Gates and Ballmer over MS's anti-trust conviction?

          Sure, an executive might go to jail, but unless their crime involves financial misconduct, the odds of them going to jail is infinitesimal. And even in the case of financial misconduct, if their misconduct only ruins the lives of their human customers it's no big deal, only if they defrauded either the "market", the company itself, or rich people, do actual humans go to jail for the crimes of their company.

          The fact is, corporations get to have their cake and eat it too. They get rights as persons, but they don't have the responsibilities and liabilities of persons. The notion that people are "natural persons" and corporations are just "persons" is absurd.

          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            by Anonymous Coward

            I hate to tell you this, but there are many more things other than corporations and natural persons that are considered persons under the law. In addition, there are many different types of corporations and they are not all giant multinational mega-conglomerates like IBM or Microsoft. Finally, there are responsibilities and liabilities that corporations have that people do not have and that most common penalty for corporations is the "death penalty" or disillusion and revoking of their articles of incorpo

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by node 3 (115640)

              I hate to tell you this, but there are many more things other than corporations and natural persons that are considered persons under the law. In addition, there are many different types of corporations and they are not all giant multinational mega-conglomerates like IBM or Microsoft.

              You mean there are legal entities other than mega-corporations and human beings? Thanks for clearing that up!?

              Finally, there are responsibilities and liabilities that corporations have that people do not have and that most common penalty for corporations is the "death penalty" or disillusion and revoking of their articles of incorporation.

              If you live in the late 18th century and early 19th century, yes, that is true. This is no longer the case. In the past, corporations had to be sanctioned by the state in which they operated, and had to be created for a specific purpose and limited duration. Once the supreme court decided that states were persons, then reciprocity came into play and if a corporation existed in one state, it had to b

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by mrmeval (662166)

        And lets execute the corporation when it kills people. Just line up the employees and shoot them. After a proper trial.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by causality (777677)

          And lets execute the corporation when it kills people. Just line up the employees and shoot them. After a proper trial.

          There IS a type of corporate death penalty. That would be the revocation of the corporate charter. It practically never happens, however, because we collectively care a lot more about the inconvenience this would cause than we care about justice.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Martin Blank (154261)

            Smaller corporations can be (and are) shut down if the majority of their business deals with breaking the law. However, larger corporations bring in other concerns.

            Let's say that IBM overstepped their bounds, sufficient enough for your corporate death penalty. Then what? Wipe them out of existence? Fire all of their employees? That's tens of thousands of people, not to mention their subcontractors which suddenly have no income from their contracts with IBM.

            How about Exxon-Mobil? Their crimes are surel

      • by BitterOak (537666) on Monday September 07, 2009 @07:24PM (#29344981)

        "Jail" for a corporation should mean that all assets are frozen and all business activities are forced to halt for the same number of days that a real person would have been incarcerated.

        The problem is that you'd be punishing a lot more people than those at Microsoft. Microsoft doesn't just sell operating systems for home computers; they sell and support a large number of business applications to a HUGE number of businesses. If Microsoft "went offline" for even just a few months, there'd be huge ripples throughout all sectors of the economy. Imagine if a critical security flaw were found in Windows, or IIS, or SQL Server and Microsoft couldn't patch it because they were "in jail". Just because you might not use MS products doesn't mean you don't do business with someone who does. It would be a disaster.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          That's what happens when you rely upon a monopoly.

          But in other cases like say, exploding Ford Pintos, it wouldn't matter if Ford was "put in jail" for a few months due to the deaths it caused. Other companies could pick-up the slack of providing cars or parts to customers.

        • by ae1294 (1547521)

          yes indeed... to big to fail....

        • So? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Rix (54095) on Monday September 07, 2009 @08:08PM (#29345257)

          So if my accountant holds up a liquor store, can I keep him out of jail because I can't do my taxes without him?

          If Microsoft is too big to fail, the answer is to cut it up until the pieces are small enough.

        • by Minwee (522556) <dcr@neverwhen.org> on Monday September 07, 2009 @09:22PM (#29345773) Homepage

          Imagine if a critical security flaw were found in Windows, or IIS, or SQL Server and Microsoft couldn't patch it because they were "in jail".

          You're suggesting that they patch critical security flaws right away. The only difference here is the quality of their excuse.

          It would be a disaster.

          Then maybe they shouldn't break the law. Or am I thinking too hard again?

      • by Ironsides (739422) on Monday September 07, 2009 @07:28PM (#29345009) Homepage Journal

        This to me would be the proper treatment of "corporations have the same rights as real individuals." A good alternative might be to keep the limited liability nature of a corporation for any failures or accidents, but to remove it and allow for personally prosecuting and imprisoning any and all members of upper management who knowingly support an illegal action wherever intent can be proven.

        This is ALREADY the nature of the law, no need to change it. What needs to be done is to actually enforce the law this way, with one exception. It shouldn't be limmited to upper management, it should be for ANYONE in the company.

        • by drsmithy (35869) <drsmithy@nosPam.gmail.com> on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @03:14AM (#29347983)

          It shouldn't be limmited to upper management, it should be for ANYONE in the company.

          Because clearly Suzy the receptionist, Bill the janitor and Jake the help-desk guy have not only in-depth knowledge of, but extensive influence over, the decision making process of executive management and therefore deserve to share their fate.

          I suppose you think when people are executed any relatives they have closer than a second cousin should go down with them as well ?

      • by pwizard2 (920421)

        "Jail" for a corporation should mean that all assets are frozen and all business activities are forced to halt for the same number of days that a real person would have been incarcerated.

        The problem with that is that means that employees (most of whom have little to do with what the company does as far as business is concerned) don't get paid since all assets are frozen and might even get cut as the corp tries to stave off bankruptcy during the punishment period. Essentially, the corporation gets shut down,

    • by AmigaMMC (1103025)
      I wonder if that applies to Adobe's verification scheme, too.
    • by smchris (464899)

      Minnesota settlement was "computer hardware or software". Microsoft bought me some surplus Linux Store keyboards with a "penguin key" instead of Windows key and a refurb scanner, linux compatible of course.

    • easy way to fix this

      Require with force of law that each payout be tendered as CASH (or cash equivalent instrument) with the option of getting an actual
      mailed card or an E-Card.

    • by corsec67 (627446) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @03:21AM (#29348029) Homepage Journal

      Better solution:
      Require the Lawyers to be paid in the EXACT same way as the class.

      So if the reward is coupons, then the lawyers get 30% of the coupons.

  • Amusing name (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 07, 2009 @06:47PM (#29344697)

    The naming scheme of this add-on somehow reminds me of how certain countries like to add attributes such as "people's" and "democratic" to their official state designations...

  • by girlintraining (1395911) on Monday September 07, 2009 @06:53PM (#29344737)

    It's not Spyware. You agreed to install it. "This agreement may be modified at any time without notice to you and you agree to be bound by its terms. Suck it. Sincerely, Your EULA." As to it phoning home every day, well duh. But what did you expect?

    This is Microsoft's official position, afterall -- You're all a bunch of filthy criminals. You can't be trusted. That's why we hide everything in hidden dialog boxes and pop up a dozen warnings in order to delete Internet Explorer from the desktop. You're too stupid to even understand what "delete" means, so we're going to go out on a limb and guess you're pretty trusting of anything that says WARNING! CAUTION! ARE YOU SURE? REALLY? HONESTLY? We're not convinced. Action cancelled. Don't you want to buy an upgrade every year? We want to move to a licensing model that sends us cash yearly. Don't you want to support American business? I mean, what if the Iranians develop an operating system! When you don't install WGA, you're supporting terrorism.

    To sign away your rights, click next.

    • by hedwards (940851) on Monday September 07, 2009 @07:06PM (#29344853)
      The problem is that, if I'm remembering correctly, is that they don't really give you a choice in the matter. Basically use our WGA or don't get our patches. If I'm remembering correctly, refusing to use the WGA would make it impossible to use the Microsoft update to properly keep things up to date. I can't recall specifically whether that included security patches or not.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by mysidia (191772)

        You can pass WGA validation without installing the WGA notification service update.

        You can also avoid installing or validating using WGA ever, as long as you only use automatic updates to pull critical updates.

        You won't be able to go to the windowsupdate site manually, or download WGA-protected downloads without doing a WGA validation, however

        • by 0123456 (636235)

          You can also avoid installing or validating using WGA ever, as long as you only use automatic updates to pull critical updates.

          How can you avoid installing WGA by using automatic updated to pull critical updates... when Microsoft push WGA on you as a 'critical update'?

          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by eqisow (877574)
            Select "Notify Only" or "Download but don't install" and then manually select which updates to install.
      • by Blakey Rat (99501) on Monday September 07, 2009 @08:39PM (#29345475)

        if I'm remembering correctly,

        If I'm remembering correctly,

        I can't recall specifically

        Why don't you look up the answer and get back to us, Mr. Memory?

    • by Volante3192 (953645) on Monday September 07, 2009 @07:27PM (#29344995)

      It's not Spyware. You agreed to install it.

      And if you agree to install AntiVirus Pro 2009 it doesn't count as spyware either?

      • And if you agree to install AntiVirus Pro 2009 it doesn't count as spyware either?

        That's no spyware as it's far worse! It's a master control program that floods your computer with viri from other unknown sources. Pure evil!

    • by nurb432 (527695) on Monday September 07, 2009 @07:46PM (#29345113) Homepage Journal

      Just because you agreed doesn't negate it being spyware.

      And from what i gather the issue is that its doing things that are NOT in the eula.

  • I'll admit that I don't use Windows anymore. These days I use an iMac and a MacBook Pro for most of my desktop computing, and I almost exclusively deploy Debian on servers. That said, I've been along for the ride with respect to Microsoft products for a very long time, both as a user and an I.T. professional deploying systems on customer networks and writing I.T. policies.

    Honestly, most consumers get that "deer in the headlights" look when you try to explain what WGA and similar systems actually do. In many cases, people simply don't care what's being sent to Microsoft, as there's a sense of implicit trust in large corporations. I have no idea where this trust comes from, but it's definitely real. I assume it's largely because the majority of users are largely ignorant of how their systems function, choosing to focus only on what's immediately presented by the OS (applications). There's no psychology degree on my wall, so I'm not qualified to guess further on the topic.

    This continuous erosion of privacy gets noticed in the I.T. world, but the general public remains almost completely in the dark. Major media outlets don't carry headline stories about these issues, possibly because their "tech journalists" are barely more educated than their readership on these topics. I have no idea how this can be fixed, but I'd love to hear some suggestions.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 07, 2009 @06:58PM (#29344773)

      Kill everyone and start again?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Tell them that terrorists and pedophiles are using the information gathered, or that your browsing habits will affect this season's X Factor outcome..
       
      Those topics usually get some attention.

  • Remove WGA (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Wowsers (1151731) on Monday September 07, 2009 @06:56PM (#29344757) Journal

    I was successfully able to remove WinXP's WGA from my system.... I installed Linux.

    No more sales for Microsoft, and no more nagging from software thinking I've got a pirate copy of something just because I upgraded some hardware.

    • by NervousNerd (1190935) on Monday September 07, 2009 @07:02PM (#29344813) Journal
      These days you'll have to deal with the Linux Genuine Advantage [linuxgenui...antage.org].
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Namely, even if you never used Windows on your machine, it likely still shipped with Windows, meaning you still paid the Microsoft tax, and you're still feeding into their massively abusive power complex. Just installing Linux is not an answer. Hell, they've used "Linux" as a justification to do this, as they have expertly turned "Linux Users" into "Pirates" in the minds of lawyers and judges with endless spin and false advertisement.

      They need to be stopped from pulling this shit, permanently. With a le
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Darkness404 (1287218)
        There are -many- systems that don't ship with Windows. Most netbooks offer Linux as an option and due to no Windows tax they are usually either cheaper or make up with it with better hardware than their Windows counterparts. While its still difficult to find a good Linux computer in a big-box retailer, they aren't exactly uncommon if you shop online.
      • by Anne Honime (828246) on Monday September 07, 2009 @07:35PM (#29345049)

        ... but when I bought my computer, I asked for vista to be removed and the price refunded. Hoped from shop to shop until I found one that agreed (in fact I was ready for a trek, but the 3rd shop in the street was the good one). He got the deal, and I bought the refund worth of RAM to top of the computer capacity. I was pleased, and so was the seller.

        My laptop is an Asus eeepc 900A linux 'edition'. Again, I carefully reviewed the options before buying.

        Speak with your wallet.

  • The Windows 7 drinking game [today.com] so far includes:

    * One shot for every "ethnic" face in an install graphic.
    * An extra shot if it's pasted over the head of a white person.
    * One shot for every white face pasted over the head of a non-white person.
    * One shot for every program with the Office 2007 "ribbon" toolbar stuck on it completely inappropriately.
    * One shot for every exciting "new" feature that's been in Mac OS and Linux for the past five years.
    * An extra shot if the exciting "new" feature's been in Mac OS and Linux for the past ten years.
    * One shot every time you reboot during the install.
    * One shot every time the system asks to reboot just because it feels like it.
    * Two shots every time it reboots even though you said "no."
    * Drain the bottle if there's an actual feature that makes Windows 7 so much better than sticking with XP that you'll spend actual money to get it.
    * Spitting your mouthful and cursing when Windows Genuine Advantage decides your full-price copy is actually a bootleg.
    * A bitter mouthful every time the system blue-screens.

    • Drain the bottle if there's an actual feature that makes Windows 7 so much better than sticking with XP that you'll spend actual money to get it.

      In that circumstance, I'd prefer the drink to be of such a concentration that the recommended dose is lethal :(

    • greeeattt gam i plyd it just now wheeee!!
  • Look in your pocket... I'm betting you have a cell phone. That means if someone wants to know where you are, they can do so within around 200 meters. Your phone connects to a tower to "talk" - they know which numbers are connected to what towers at any time of the day. I would say microsoft is the least of your worries if you are a privacy advocate.
  • Go free market! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by RazorSharp (1418697) on Monday September 07, 2009 @07:15PM (#29344909)

    Unfortunately Microsoft will probably win this because there's a difference between spyware and an abusive contract. To the best of my knowledge, abusive contracts are perfectly legal, which is why MS got over on IBM so bad. These license agreements which you click before using software have been legally upheld in court, so Microsoft may be doing something immoral, but it's still legal. The only thing that makes spyware illegal is that they bypass a contract and install without the user's permission.

    I love to blame Microsoft as much as anyone here but I think this is a case where the lack of legislation is, in a legal sense, to blame. Companies have no legal obligation to behave ethically. I would love to see a law which prohibits these ridiculous lawyer-speak click-contracts. There has to be a better way to protect both the company and consumer.

    It does sound as if their main case is that the WGA contract is misleading and dishonest, and if that's true, they may have a case. I wouldn't know because I've never read it and don't intend to. I don't use Windows.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by multriha (206019)

      Abusive contracts are perfectly legal, just not always binding.

    • by Nefarious Wheel (628136) on Monday September 07, 2009 @07:46PM (#29345109) Journal

      I don't mind that my car has a license plate. I don't even mind having to register with the authorities or prove that the car is indeed my own. What really pisses me off is the cameras and systems that track where I'm going by using the information on that license plate, and tying it to my behaviour patterns.

      I'm not a law breaker and I'm not paranoid*, I just don't want my behaviour modified by stealthy incursions into my privacy that could result in profiling and ultimately curtailing my choices in where I go, what I see and what I do. WGA is, I believe, just part of a trend that increasingly encourages powerful public institutions to think of people as objects, as statistics, and the effect of treating people as objects is the source of pretty much all I consider crime in the world.

      (*I walked by a construction site the other day and the roofer told me that I wasn't paranoid - in morse code. Clever, aren't they?)

  • by rwwyatt (963545) on Monday September 07, 2009 @07:42PM (#29345097)

    WGA is like a body cavity search, but without the rubber glove

    • WGA is like a body cavity search, but without the rubber glove

      ... and what they're sticking in there isn't their hand.

  • With the high rate of Windows piracy, especially in markets such as China (where piracy rates are as high as 80% [chinatechnews.com]), Microsoft having WGA as a core part of their operating system makes sense. Legit users, of course, don't have to worry because Windows will never stop working for them (there are some exceptions [msdn.com], but those are typically solved quickly).

    The issue may be privacy. According to the WGA FAQ [microsoft.com] and an analysis by Groklaw [groklaw.net] (2006), the following information is sent to Microsoft every time WGA "phones h
    • by 0123456 (636235) on Monday September 07, 2009 @08:09PM (#29345271)

      Legit users, of course, don't have to worry because Windows will never stop working for them (there are some exceptions [msdn.com], but those are typically solved quickly)

      I bet you also believe that 'if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear', right?

      I don't give a flying monkey crap about Microsoft's profits; I care about my software randomly not working because some crappy 'validation' software decides that I'm a criminal. More than that, I care about the whole concept of being treated as a criminal until proven innocent by a company that I've paid money to for the product I'm using.

      You may be happy to bend over for big corporate profits, but I'm increasingly fed up with this crap -- not just from Microsoft but from other companies who decide to prevent software I've purchased from running until I beg them to fix their god-damn piece of crap 'validation'/'activation'/DRM bullshit -- to the extent that I'm now doing my best to completely eliminate Windows and commercial software which contains this kind of shit from my home.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by rennerik (1256370)

        I bet you also believe that 'if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear', right?

        No, I do not believe in that 100%. If Microsoft required me to provide my driver's license, SSN, and other such information to activate my copy of Windows, I'd be pissed off to no end.

        This is different. They have your hardware serial numbers and your IP. They can't track you down without a court order anyway. In which case, *anyone* can track you down, given even just one of those: your IP.

        You may be happy to bend over for big corporate profits, but I'm increasingly fed up with this crap -- not just from Microsoft but from other companies who decide to prevent software I've purchased from running until I beg them to fix their god-damn piece of crap 'validation'/'activation'/DRM bullshit

        Fewer than 12,000 copies stopped working for less than 12 hours. And if you called for support, your problem was

        • by Techman83 (949264) on Monday September 07, 2009 @11:10PM (#29346541)
          Every time I've rebuilt someone's machine(usually a few upgrades as well), I read the S/N off the sticker on the side and plug it on in. Come time to finally log in, activate, fail, you have to call MS, read off some ridiculously long number, convince them that you are indeed installing it on the same computer you purchased it for, then input an even longer number (for the love of god, don't get one digit wrong..). I have wasted many hours of my life doing pointless activations, where as applying a WGA patch can be done in a minute.

          Path of least resistance will win time and time again, which for me is Ubuntu/Arch/Debian/Suse/CentOS etc.
    • One word: Oracle (Score:5, Insightful)

      by El_Oscuro (1022477) on Monday September 07, 2009 @08:56PM (#29345593) Homepage

      I know of great place to get the latest version of Oracle Enterprise addition for any platform, no license keys, no activation required, no trial periods, no protection at all. Just download it for your favorite platform and install it.

      technet.oracle.com [oracle.com]

      Last time I checked, Oracle is pretty profitable, even though they have no copy protection of any kind. Apparently, the ACTUALLY trust their customers somewhat which puts them in a pretty rare class these days.

      Microsoft is only shooting themselves in the foot:

      1. Copy protection doesn't work. It didn't work in the 1980's and it won't work now.
      2. WGA might not really create a disincentive for pirates, as most people who download a cracked copy off pirates bay do not always obtain the latest security patches from Microsoft.
      3. These pirated copies are actually free advertising for Microsoft. It gives them the net effect which is still very important in these markets.
      4. WGA definitely creates a disincentive for legitimate customers like me:
        1. I have a legal copy of MS-Office which I no longer have installed. After having to go through the activation drill twice after reinstalling Windows, it just seems too much of a hassle to do it again. Thus, I have become much more proficient in Open Office, and can pass those skills unto others.
        2. My Ubuntu Dell laptop also came with a Vista CD. I briefly considered installing it somewhere, as I figured becoming familiar with the latest version of Windows would be useful, maybe running in a VM or something. WGA nixed that idea, and whatever neat features Vista has, I have never seen them.
      5. Privacy is not a straw man. It is in fact a very big deal to me. Once someone else has control over your computer, whether it is Microsoft or some Haxt0r, it is pwnd. I have moved anything important to Linux a long time ago, and no longer trust any Windows computer connected to the Internet with any important information.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by gbarules2999 (1440265)

        Copy protection doesn't work. It didn't work in the 1980's and it won't work now.

        Let's just stop it here. Let the truth sink in.

        That's the problem with the +5 Insightful FAQ poster up there. This would all be okay to bear if it was stopping piracy in the slightest. It isn't. You're foolish to think it would. And the whole "it stops casual piracy" nonsense has been overblown for years; most casuals will just ask a techie to do it for them, or if not, google around and crack the thing themselves. It's not that hard of a process, and you'd be surprised what some people can do when their W

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by pwizard2 (920421)

      I see this as a necessary evil that Microsoft has to perform

      No evil is necessary if it affects me. I personally have no interest in helping Microsoft protect their profit margins, so why should I (or anyone else who doesn't work for them) care if they lose money through piracy? It really isn't my problem. If they want me to care, they have to offer me something in return. I'm all for charity for people who deserve it, but those feelings don't apply to corporations who exist solely to make a profit have used

    • by Bent Mind (853241) on Monday September 07, 2009 @09:21PM (#29345767)

      According to the WGA FAQ [microsoft.com]

      That was an interesting FAQ. I especially like this part:

      Q: What happens when WGA Notifications communicates with Microsoft when a PC is booted up? A: The pilot version of this software periodically contacts Microsoft after validation; however, this feature has been removed from the final version of WGA Notifications.

      That seems to contradict your statement:

      So why is "phoning home" okay? Why not do it once and be done with it? ... Either way, Microsoft has not kept this a secret, and even promised to reduce checking to once every two weeks [zdnet.com]

      If WGA does send information to Microsoft, even if it is only every two weeks, and their FAQ specifically says they do not, I'd say that is the very definition of spyware.

      Of cource, Microsoft has their own definition of spyware:

      Q: Some people are saying that WGA is spyware. Is this true? A: Broadly speaking, spyware is deceptive software that is installed on a userâ(TM)s computer without the user&#39s consent and has some malicious purpose. WGA is installed with the consent of the user and seeks only to notify the user if a proper license is not in place. If the user declines the EULA, WGA Notifications will not be installed on userâ(TM)s machine. Once installed, WGA Notifications becomes a permanent part of Windows XP software, and therefore cannot be uninstalled.

      Let's see: spyware is deceptive software (check), installed on a userâ(TM)s computer without the userâ(TM)s consent (debatable, it is installed as a critical update via automatic updates. Microsoft strongly encourages the use of automatic updates to keep your system secure. If this were an optional update, I might buy that it is opt-in. Microsoft then tells you that the system will be crippled in small ways if you don't install it. There is no option to opt-out. Technically, it is opt-in, but only technically.) , and has some malicious purpose. (Depends on what you consider malicious. From Microsoft's point of view, it is not malicious. However, I'm sure that most spyware authors do not consider their software malicious.)

  • Representation (Score:3, Interesting)

    by no-body (127863) on Monday September 07, 2009 @08:05PM (#29345233)

    of the purpose of WGA is fraudulent - not doubt; German XP versions, not sure if all (?) are forced to install WGA or no further system patches can be installed: Coercion: install WGA or run the risk of a compromised system.

    But - let's be clear: There are plenty of other installed programs calling home and why is the Windows firewall so lousy to fail identifying, showing and logging any program trying to get out from the machine? Self-protection, Corporate cover up or plain stupidity of developers?

    On other ends: Patents should only be valid as long as the original inventor (no corp legal entities!) is alive and then become public property.

  • Everyone should know by now that the WGA really was always about Microsoft cracking down on pirated versions of their products. Now, with that in mind, if the WGA does some checking and phones home, but does not send up anything that would identify the owner of the computer, what is the big deal? An IP address might get logged by Microsoft and attached to your registration key?

    What is new at this point? If your version of Windows has been cut off due to being pirated(or being flagged as a pirated ve

    • by WiiVault (1039946) on Monday September 07, 2009 @09:07PM (#29345659)
      Palm hacked USB vendor code which is against the rules you agree to when you use USB. Apple patched it. It is insane that Apple is painted as the bad guy on this one. They deserve plenty of hate for their BS AppStore rules, and overpriced HW, but fixing an exploit that hacks the USB protocol is not one of them.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by myowntrueself (607117)

      That final line about how MacOS doesn't have copy protection.....ummm, you can ONLY put it on an Apple branded computer, and there is a price premium built into Apple branded computers already, so the copy protection is there, just not in the normal form.

      The OSX EULA is quite clear.

      Its got nothing to do with "Apple branded computer"

      It very specifically refers to "Apple labeled computer". My emphasis.

      The OSX install media comes with Apple labels for you to attach to the computer onto which you are installing OSX.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        OS X 10.5 had the 'Apple-labeled' term, but 10.6 has the 'Apple-branded' term. It is also dubious that slapping a sticker, even one supplied by Apple, makes that computer Apple-labeled or Apple-branded.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 07, 2009 @08:49PM (#29345539)

    I can't stand WGA. I have a single WinXP system that I have set up for family to use when they come over because I use Linux and they aren't familiar with the OS. It seems like that every single time that I turn the system on WGA is downloading once again either on its own or with other Windows Updates. It is WGA because any time that I let it install it pops up with the window to let it install, and the rest of the updates won't continue until you hit that finish button.

    Can't tell you how many times I accidentally left the "Tell me how WGA enhances my system" button checked, and I love the answer. To paraphrase, "WGA reports back to MS to make sure that your copy isn't pirated." How many times does WGA need to report back, seriously? Like I said, it seriously runs about once a month on this system, not that it is run that often anyway. Shouldn't there be something resident that once WGA checks and confirms authenticity it will remember it.

    This is one of the main reasons that I switched to Linux, I haven't had to put of with this garbage in years. No viruses, no spyware, no WGA, no DRM, no hardware lock-in, none of that stuff that is a pain with Windows and Macs.

  • ReactOS [reactos.org] is still being developed. Some day (maybe in five years) it will reach the golden 1.0 standard. It should replace Windows XP and then we can forget about those WGA updates.

    WGA has too many false positives and can ruin wallpaper settings (turning the screen to black) and do other annoying things. Plus I keep seeing it installed even if updates are turned off. Currently my system is genuine but if a Firewall software blocks Internet access it thinks it is not genuine. Until I allow the firewall and then hit validate, then everything is OK.

    I doubt a majority of Windows users will migrate towards Vista or Windows 7 because of legacy software issues and legacy hardware that cannot run Vista or 7. ReactOS will fill that hole quite nicely when it is done with Windows XP compatibility and no WGA gotchas.

    • by WiiVault (1039946)
      To be fair though WinXP will be quite dated in 5 years.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      I doubt a majority of Windows users will migrate towards Vista or Windows 7 because of legacy software issues and legacy hardware that cannot run Vista or 7.

      A majority of Windows users will simply buy new PCs, which will come with Win7. Most netbooks will start shipping with it as soon as it'll get released to the general public, as well.

      Hardware compatibility issues were a big deal when Vista was released, but mostly because of that release hardware manufacturers were forced to deal with it, and did so. Virtually any hardware manufactured after Vista release will run Vista (and therefore Win7) well - and this means last 3 years or so.

      Legacy software isn't an i

  • by Nero Nimbus (1104415) on Monday September 07, 2009 @09:56PM (#29345969)
    From the summary: WGA's implementation also prevented users from purging the protection from their PCs without completely reformatting a computer's system drive.

    This line is so stupid that it hurts, because it makes the assumption that WGA is somehow going to vanish in a puff of smoke if you'll just nuke from orbit and start over. These people should just do the following, if WGA offends them so badly:

    1. Make a text file, but give it a .bat extension. Make it something like, oh, I don't know, "wganuke.bat."
    2. Paste the following into your new text file:

    echo Y > cacls wgatray.exe /d everyone
    echo Y > cacls wgalogon.dll /d everyone
    echo Y > cacls legitcheckcontrol.dll /d everyone


    3. Save.
    4. Double-click on the icon for your new text file.
    5. No more WGA (Sorry, no PROFIT! jokes here). Updating also works like a charm. The above was tested on XP SP3, but I have no reason to believe that it wouldn't work on Vista or Win7.
  • by herojig (1625143) on Tuesday September 08, 2009 @03:09AM (#29347945) Homepage

    I don't get this, don't u just go download FixWGA from the nearest torrent site, and then be done with it? Honestly - frivolous lawsuit!

We warn the reader in advance that the proof presented here depends on a clever but highly unmotivated trick. -- Howard Anton, "Elementary Linear Algebra"

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