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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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By michal1980 on 7/5/2006 11:17:28 AM , Rating: -1
this story is misleading.

the other 20% can still be pirated keys.

80% of the Bad keys are Leaked or Stole Corporate Keys. I.E. a key that can install win xp on hundreds of pcs

The 20% other, could be copies hacked by other means. outside of those keys.

While M$ has some bad code. Being off by 20% is something I doubt even they could release. Please we would have heard about it on these boards if it had a 20% false positive.

RE: Microsoft Drops Phone Home "Feature" Entirely
By Visual on 7/5/2006 11:49:01 AM , Rating: 2
indeed, there should be plenty of failed validations that don't even come from a windows pc. just yesterday i tried to download the new beta of IE7 on my linux and it "failed validation". but my gentoo is genuine, i swear.
using opera or firefox on a legal windows probably fails too, then there are users with IE but security settings that have disabled javascript or activex, and so fail again.

By glennpratt on 7/5/2006 12:31:16 PM , Rating: 2
Umm, this is about the WGA update for windows, not a browser plugin (which, btw, works in other browsers).

By Randalllind on 7/5/2006 12:39:32 PM , Rating: 2
What bugs me is I have to download a program to get a # si I center a # in order to download crap from

By Randalllind on 7/5/2006 12:41:31 PM , Rating: 2

What suck is I have to download a program to get a # to enter so I can download whatever at microsoft website. Microsoft so auto hit my pc and know I am legit when I go to download stuff from their site.

RE: Microsoft Drops Phone Home "Feature" Entirely
By Trisped on 7/5/2006 1:58:50 PM , Rating: 2
There are rumors that indicate that the WGA's accuracy is dangerously off. People complaining about WGA declaring their copy not genuine when they believe it is. The question is, was Microsoft too heavy handed in the WGA code so that even legit copies are turning up to not be, or are people running illegal copies unknowingly, or are the pirates trying to create a media frenzy to destroy their competition so they can keep selling and using illegal copies.

I personally would have expected the first generation of WGA to be a simple key check. Even that could have problems, like if someone guesses your legit key and uses it to install their OS.

By masher2 (blog) on 7/5/2006 2:07:10 PM , Rating: 2
> "There are rumors that indicate that the WGA's accuracy is dangerously off..."

Relevant word highlighted.

> " People complaining about WGA declaring their copy not genuine when they believe it is..."

Most people don't understand OEM licensing, I agree.

> "if someone guesses your legit key and uses it to install their OS. "

No one is going to "just guess" an installation key. That's why they're so long...guessing a valid one is less likely than being struck by thousand times in a row.

By DigitalFreak on 7/5/2006 2:26:32 PM , Rating: 3
Dude, you are being quite the Microsoft shill today, aren't you?

By masher2 (blog) on 7/5/2006 2:34:07 PM , Rating: 2
"Dude", I'm shilling for capitalism, freedom, and free markets. Why not try it yourself sometime?

Personally, I could care less about Microsoft. The principle here is the important issue.

By mindless1 on 7/6/2006 2:56:50 AM , Rating: 2
You claim to be shilling for the free market?

That's either funny or you badly need some education. WGA wouldn't likely exist at all in a free market and certainly not be prone to accusations of piracy for purchased licenses. Remember, YOU can't argue away that 20% with random BS, it is already conceded to be erroneous by the source that wants to paint it in the best light possible.

By masher2 (blog) on 7/6/2006 11:48:31 AM , Rating: 3
> "WGA wouldn't likely exist at all in a free market..."

Where do you get such nonsense? I use a couple high-end software packages (costing $100K+/copy) in a market in which no company has anywhere near a 50% market share. Each of them is considerably more intrusive with their license validation than is WGA. One of them requires you to obtain a per-day usage key EVERY TIME you run the application.

> "YOU can't argue away that 20% with random BS, it is already conceded to be erroneous by the source...."

Oops, nothing of the sort. Reread the source article; you apparently misinterpreted it seriously.

By piroroadkill on 7/6/2006 6:24:36 AM , Rating: 2
You're a mindless prick.

The phrase is "couldn't care less".

"could care less" means you care about Microsoft, and you could care less, but are not.

By masher2 (blog) on 7/6/2006 11:41:12 AM , Rating: 4
> "You're a mindless prick...The phrase is "couldn't care less"."

Quite possibly so, but on this issue more educated than are you. According to the OED-- the definitive standard of the English language-- the phrase "could care less" is a colloqualism for "couldn't care less", and one that, in contempory English, is used considerably more often than the original.

Think before you post, son. You'll embarrass yourself less often.

RE: Microsoft Drops Phone Home "Feature" Entirely
By Tyler 86 on 7/6/2006 9:00:05 PM , Rating: 3
I could care less, but then I would be hating.

Don't turn it into personal shit, back to the topic at hand.

If Microsoft had an OS that had competitive support from developers, it would be a competitive OS.

If such an OS existed, Microsoft could not get away with WGA.
They would get dropped like a hot potatoe.
People could care less, but then they would be hating.

If Microsoft incorperates a trusted computing module, people will care less they could care - they would be hating.

Don't hate the player, hate the game.

Got game for life, son - yaeh yuh!

By Tyler 86 on 7/6/2006 9:01:20 PM , Rating: 2
^ potato.
^ trusted computing model.

By gtnbuckeye on 7/7/2006 9:34:16 AM , Rating: 2
Since Microsoft's licensing requires that the software key "sticker" be on the side of the PC (all OEM installs), someone only needs to see your PC to steal your license key. No guessing required.

It's funny how anyone would consider you a retard if you put a password on a post-it note on your PC, but an OEM license key needs to be there to be "legal".

"You can bet that Sony built a long-term business plan about being successful in Japan and that business plan is crumbling." -- Peter Moore, 24 hours before his Microsoft resignation

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