Microsoft Updates WGA

Dennis Faas's picture

Last summer, Microsoft made a rather big mess of things with WGA, or the Windows Genuine Advantage program. The company had only recently delayed Windows Vista, and the public was primed and ready to jump on them for any other slip ups.

That came with the aforementioned WGA, MS' attempt to introduce antipiracy software. The problem wasn't necessarily the concept so much as it was the nature in which Microsoft implemented the program. Well, it appears the Redmond-based company has drastically updated WGA, and some of the harshest critics from mid-year are now slightly less annoyed.

Although WGA is a scary idea for hackers (it essentially shuts down any system found to have pirated software), its first test was borderline illegal. That's because Microsoft never really explained what it was when prompting users with a "critical update". Those who signed on were generally unaware that their system was being remotely monitored by MS, who could now take a closer look at the legitimacy of any Windows-based software. (source:

The first thing Microsoft has improved is its explanation of WGA. Instead of skirting the issue, users are now faced with a screen that fully explains what the WGA Notifications do. At this point, the user has the option to cancel the installation (something that was obviously very hard to do when nothing was explained last summer).

From there, users who are interested in the installation can view licenses and other important information regarding WGA. It certainly takes the mystery out of the program.

Finally, users who fail the legitimacy test are not subject to the "Kill Switch" (yet). Instead, Microsoft explains how they can get a legit copy of the software, and what the risks are for continuing to use pirated wares. (source:

It's all a nice gesture from Microsoft, albeit a bit late. Who knows how much things will change with tomorrow's much anticipated release of Vista business.

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