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Microsoft sheds a little more light on its WGA iniative

A recent blog by Ed Bott over at ZDNET has brought even more attention to Microsoft's Windows Genuine Authentication (WGA) which has been coming under increasing scrutiny and has even been the subject of a lawsuit. Computerworld and Ed Bott have been trying to get to the bottom of the whole WGA mystery and some of the issues being brought to the forefront are quite interesting.

Microsoft’s WGA utility, which is used on the Windows XP operating system to combat piracy, has been used in the past to validate OS installs so that users could download certain system updates as well as downloads like Internet Explorer 7.0 Beta and Windows Media Player 11. But while Microsoft sees WGA as a major ally in the fight against pirates, the utility has been pegging some innocent customers as having pirated copies of Windows XP. "80% of all WGA validation failures are due to unauthorized use of leaked or stolen volume license keys," said a Microsoft spokeswoman to Computerworld.

Ed Bott, not satisfied with this response from Microsoft, fired off his own inquiry into the reason for a 20% false positive rating for WGA and received this response from Cori Hartje, Director of Microsoft’s Genuine Software Initiative, "While we will don't have specifics to share on other forms counterfeit installations, they mostly result from activities such as various forms of tampering and unauthorized OEM installations."

It'd be nice if Microsoft would go into more detail on that other 20%, but that likely won't happen anytime soon. Microsoft is no longer accepting interviews on the WGA matter -- possibly due to the pending lawsuit.

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RE: Uh....
By wing0 on 7/5/2006 10:43:12 AM , Rating: 2
what would be a reasonable price?

RE: Uh....
By Visual on 7/5/2006 11:37:50 AM , Rating: 2
"what would be a reasonable price?"
now that's the million dollar question, no?
or atleast, the $500 question :p
i would call reasonable $150 at launch, for the bestest possible "premium" and "ultimate" "squeeze some more dough" versions. and im calling that reasonable only in light of microsoft's history of even higher prices. perhaps it should fall down to under $100 to be acceptable for the masses. and they should have even cheaper licenses for institutions and students and such.
xp prices are already cheaper than that, but xp is old already and about to be replaced so its understandable lots of people dont want to pay for it even that.

then there are the poorer developing countries. i myself wasn't able, let alone willing, to pay even $100 for an OS a couple of years ago. now the situation here is improving, but still its a bit harsh to tell someone for whom you're building a budget pc that the hardware will cost $400 and then they have to pay $100 more for just the os. don't even mention prices for ms office and other stuff they might need.

RE: Uh....
By masher2 on 7/5/2006 11:50:40 AM , Rating: 1
> "i would call reasonable $150 at launch, for the bestest possible"

Congratulations on your syntactic pyrotechnics. In any case, are you aware that the vast majority of Windows copies are sold OEM, at prices that dip below $25/copy?

I'd also like to point out a little concept that seems to have gone by the wayside. Freedom. I find it outrageous that a some self-serving individuals feel they can dictate what a company charges for its products. A "reasonable" price is whatever Microsoft wants to charge. If they wish to price Windows at $25,000 a copy-- let them. Who would buy it? The fact is, its their product. Therefore, their rules. You don't a different OS, or use a free one.

RE: Uh....
By Sureshot324 on 7/5/2006 12:14:53 PM , Rating: 2
If there was a competing OS that could run all Windows software and was a reasonably good OS, there's no way Microsoft could get away with charging what they do. The ratio of money they invest in developing Windows is tiny compared to the amount of money they make from it, which means another company could afford to make a much cheaper alternative, if this was possible. Microsoft is expoiting it's monopoly to charge us ridiculously high prices.

RE: Uh....
By masher2 on 7/5/2006 12:43:13 PM , Rating: 2
> "If there was a competing OS that could run all Windows software..."

There are competing OSes that run THEIR OWN software. That's the entire point.

There is so much Windows software because Microsoft spent billions to provide developers with tools, free SDKs, and other help to write that software. And they spent so much marketing, developing, and promoting Windows that developers had a high comfort level that they were writing for a product that would stand the test of time.

> "The ratio of money they invest in developing Windows is tiny compared to the amount of money they make from it, which means another company could afford to make a much cheaper alternative..."

If writing Windows is so cheap and easy...why has no one else done it? Many people have tried in fact to implement a binary-level compatibility with Windows. After spending many thousands of man-hours and achieving only limited compatibility with the simplest of Windows programs-- they realize there's a lot more to it than they first thought.

> "Microsoft is expoiting it's monopoly to charge us ridiculously high prices. "

Tell you what. You go write a Windows clone, charge half price for it, and I promise to buy a few hundred copies. You can get rich overnight.

But be warned-- if even a single Windows programs fails to run on it, I intend to sue for triple damages.

RE: Uh....
By Visual on 7/5/2006 8:47:05 PM , Rating: 2
$25 wont get you even a "safe mode"-only version :p
it may very well be what the OEMs pay for the OS, but not what the end customer pays.
i can manage to find an OEM version of xp professional around $80, and its rare. and please don't push me "home edition", or god forbid "asian edition" as a cheaper alternative.

and you needn't flame me for stating my oppinion on what a reasonable price would be. someone asked that question, i answered. i haven't went to bill gates and forced him to accept my viewpoint have i?

and you purpously skipped another option for when you don't like the price - that is, steal it. as bad as it sounds, it is a common occurance, and is infact what started this whole discussion. i'm a programmer and im not supporting stealing someone's hard work same as i wouldn't want it to happen with mine, still i have to point out it's just bound to happen with high prices, especially in poorer countries. and the funny thing is, microsoft realise that all too well, and don't seem to mind it - they get their big money from those that could afford it, and they get popularity and wider spread for their os from those that couldn't... piracy is the only reason they got to be the monopoly they are now.

RE: Uh....
By mindless1 on 7/6/2006 2:49:12 AM , Rating: 2
Obviously by "freedom" you mean a free market, meaning we'll have to break up MS and let the remaining OS developers compete on price. Can't have only the portion of freedom that suits YOUR argument, it's a package deal.

RE: Uh....
By KeypoX on 7/6/2006 3:04:38 PM , Rating: 2
windows isnt free?

RE: Uh....
By apriest on 7/6/2006 9:56:55 PM , Rating: 2

RE: Uh....
By wallijonn on 7/5/2006 1:21:41 PM , Rating: 2
Quote: "xp is old already and about to be replaced so its understandable lots of people don't want to pay for it even that. "

Remember when MS said that it would soon no longer support WXP Home? Exactly what would BestBuy, CompUSA, CircuitCity, Staples, OfficeMax, Fry Electronics, et. al. now do with the machines in their stock? Would you buy the machine knowing that it would no longer be supported? Imagine Dell immediately increasing their prices by $100 to cover the WXP Professional install. You'd think people would just fork over another $100 without some assurances from Dell, IBM, HP, Gateway?

As for the "OEM" OSs, there is an OEM WXPP which will work on all machines and the ones which Dell, HP, IBM, Gateway, etc. bundle with their machines, the ones which come (???) with install CDs. ( A practice many got away from by installing the initial OS on a hard disk partition instead of supplying a CD.)

I bet you that a large percentage of the "hits" are people with Dells, HPs, etc. who are re-installing their OSs because of viruses, spyware, bad drivers, bad software, etc. All they have is that license COA and no install CD. For these cases you'll probably have to phone in for a key activation.

Me, I see WGA as a precursor to certificates (DRM), that once Vista comes out you will need an internet connection to verify its certificate keys (for the OS and all content (music and movies).) Ultimately there will be a certificate for each and every piece of software installed, there will be a certificate for each and every peiece of hardware installed, there will be a certificate for each and every driver installed, for each BIOS (firmware) installed.

WGA is nothing but DRM beta.

RE: Uh....
By Tyler 86 on 7/6/2006 8:44:49 PM , Rating: 3
WGA is nothing but DRM beta.

... and then the entire software world began the cruel and treacherous move to Linux and ReactOS, setting development cycles back decades ... for the unprepared.

The RIAA is just starting to realise there is a line.
I hope Microsoft realises there is a line.
Yeah, they know there's a line... probably.

They'll put their products just barely within reach, with just a little enough bullcrap packed in them, and dangle it infront of everyone. Same thing they're doing now.

RE: Uh....
By Armorize on 7/8/2006 2:01:19 AM , Rating: 2
I hope Microsoft realises there is a line. Yeah, they know there's a line... probably.

the problem is ms put that stupid line their in C language and their opening up visual studio to move it wherever they please, OH NOES!!

RE: Uh....
By Trisped on 7/5/2006 1:48:40 PM , Rating: 2
If you actually look at other OSes, windows is a steal. At $100-150 for XP MCE and Pro OEM you get a highly tested and compatible OS. It is used by something around 90% of all PC users. Almost all commercial software runs on it. It comes with basic software like a media player and simple word processing (word pad and note pad). It has industry support, so you can ask a tech savvy friend for help or go to a store and pay a small fee to have the problem fixed. They provide standardized APIs like DirectX, they are backwards compatible (I hear that the x64 versions aren't very backwards compatible, but they still work). They have complete networking options.

Sure, many other OSes have these or similar, but with the exception of OSX from Apple, they all cost more or require more expensive support. They have very few applications compared to Windows and if you want tech support you have to pay more then it would cost to get a new PC with windows installed.

And don't talk to be about your Lindux or Fedora. They might be perfect for people that like to spend the time to figure things out on their own, but their options and usability reminds me more of DOS and Windows 3.0 then of a real OS.

"This is about the Internet.  Everything on the Internet is encrypted. This is not a BlackBerry-only issue. If they can't deal with the Internet, they should shut it off." -- RIM co-CEO Michael Lazaridis
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