RealTime IT News

Microsoft Makes Slight Change to WGA Notification

Microsoft blinked in its battle against pirates.

The company updated its Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) Notification software by removing the daily check-in feature.

The new version of WGA Notification now checks users' computers every 14 days to determine whether the version of Windows they're running is pirated or legitimate. But they won't have the FBI busting down their doors if it's not.

Instead, the WGA Validation component, which does not collect any identifying information, will nag them about not running a "genuine" copy of Windows and then direct them to pages where they can "learn more about the benefits of using genuine Windows software."

Nagware is nothing new, but the idea that everyone's copy of Windows was contacting Microsoft on a daily basis caused outrage on Web sites and blogs all over the Internet. The company said WGA Validation does not collect any information that Microsoft will use to identify or contact the user.

WGA was intended to catch pirated copies of Windows, because it connected with Microsoft every time users started their computers or every day if they leave their computers on.

Microsoft said the daily check-in occurred during the pilot phase of WGA to keep an eye on the beta software in case it had to be terminated.

It will do this to "prevent proliferation of counterfeit copies of Windows, particularly those that rely on stolen or leaked information, revalidation is required when a customer accesses a website or download that requires WGA Validation," according to a Microsoft spokesman in an e-mail comment to internetnews.com.

In addition to cutting down on the number of calls from WGA to the mothership, Microsoft has revised the End User License Agreement (EULA) to more clearly explain the purpose of the software and add details about WGA Notifications.

Microsoft has released a Knowledgebase article on how to remove older versions of the WGA software, and there are numerous hacks floating around on the Internet.

However, even though Microsoft is showing customers how to remove WGA, those who without it will still be crippled in their update options.

They will be able to obtain critical security updates through Windows Update but won't be able to get optional or non-critical updates.