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.