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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: ok
By aos007 on 7/5/2006 6:15:37 PM , Rating: 3
you missed all the relevant sections.

As did you:

A choice that that is only theoretical or comes with drawbacks that vast majority of people would find unacceptable is NOT a choice.

There is always freedom of choice.

No, there isn't, and it is often an illusion. Your problem is that you believe that theory=practice. Or that everything is black and white. Real world is not a mathematical equation.

Let me give you an extreme example. I already did but you didn't pay attention.

Back during WW2, german troups were ordered to execute every high schoool student in a large town back in my country as a retaliation for partisan attacks. They rounded up 6-7 thousand of them and shot them all outside the city. A few of german soliders would not stand for it, they were executed alongside.

Now, according to you, all those soldiers had a choice. And they did, the choice was to shoot innocent kids or get executed.

One can blame the rest of germans for being murderers, war criminals etc. Or those few that got shot for being idealistic fools. The problem is, what would people do in a similar situation? I don't believe there is a good answer to this question.

In real life, choices and consequences are usually far less severe. What you're doing is equivalent of telling people to kill off their IT careers if they don't like using Microsoft OS. "Because that is their choice". I say that is no choice.

And the OEM copy ***DOES*** cost $120-150 and they're not sold only by "unscrupulous" people. They are sold by every single computer shop, including the biggest, and I doubt US is any diferent. What I'm telling you that I belive that Microsoft is QUITE HAPPY with this happening. You can persuade me that someone is doing this on a few dozen or few hundred license per year basis. But you are not going to be able to persuade me that they knowingly ignore sales of tens of thousands of licenses through every one of these.

And in fact - in reality Microsoft DOES allow you to upgrade your hardware, contrary to their license. Not only you can upgrade individual parts (as long as you don't go overbaord) but once every year they will let you "reset" the upgrade counter, or whatever it's called. So as long as you don't replace the entire machine more than once every year, you will still be able to use your OEM license. So they are silently accepting that people would "riot" if they were really to enforce it. This reset wasn't there from the start, they added it along the way.

However, now you have a situation that something is "not allowed" on paper, but is allowed in practice. In my view they are simply accepting the reality. Do you really think ATI, Nvidia, and just about any hardware manufacturer would not be vocal about this if it was enforced fully? Because their sales would tank.

RE: ok
By masher2 on 7/6/2006 11:36:08 AM , Rating: 3
> "Now, according to you, all those soldiers had a choice..."

You're making one of the most basic mistakes in ethical theory-- confusing coercion with the indirect negative effects of choice.

Example. A company states, "work for us or we kill you". That's slavery. A company states, "work for us or we don't pay you". That's freedom...even if their failing to pay you means you starve to death.

Freedom does not imply you are free to make any choices you wish without negative consequences. If you choose to jump off a cliff-- you will die. If you choose not earn a living-- you will experience economic hardship. If you choose not to use Microsoft products-- you will have limited opportunity in the IT industry. Your freedom of choice still exists. You are not being coerced in any of these three cases...except by your own common sense desire to avoid the consequences of your actions.

Honestly, freedom really isn't that complex a subject. Why not try to understand it? You might find you like it.

RE: ok
By Tyler 86 on 7/6/2006 8:51:49 PM , Rating: 2
Being given any choice at all is freedom ("Give me liberty, or give me death!"), but while contracts, anti-competitive practices, and slavery, still incorperates a degree of freedom...

Just use common sense.

If it gets bad enough though, tell common sense to take a hike and grab a weapon.

"Nowadays you can buy a CPU cheaper than the CPU fan." -- Unnamed AMD executive
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