Windows Genuine Advantage Causes More Problems for Vista

Dennis Faas's picture

At a time when Microsoft didn't need any more bad Windows Vista news, reports are beginning to surface about problems with the product activation system.

For some users of the not-ready-for-prime-time operating system, updating some hardware drivers can cause the Software Protection Platform code in Windows Vista to require reactivation. No changes are made to the hardware itself, just the drivers.

Software Protection Platform code in Windows Vista is part of the Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA).  It's a program required by Microsoft as part of their fight against software piracy.

It gets better. The OS makes you call Microsoft's activation hotline, enter your product ID code over the phone, and type in a 48-digit code that the operator reads back to you.

Coincidentally, the author of this article was using a couple Dell systems. Updates were available from Dell for his SATA controllers. Two updates were available: One for an XPS 410 system and one for an XPS 210 system. After completing the update on the first system a message popped up notifying him that the system needed online activation.

When he tried to activate it online he was informed that he had to call Microsoft for activation. Once the second system was updated the same exact thing happened.

Stories of others having the same type of problems began cropping up last month. Microsoft has been aware of a few bugs they were working to fix and they've been working with the vendors to do just that.

Seems similar issues take place with the Intel driver because it reports the hard drive serial number in a different format than the Microsoft driver uses. Consequently, the system thinks the hard drive has been changed. Upgrading memory flagged one system as "out of tolerance."

Intel drivers aren't the only ones giving Vista fits. Nvidia and Silicon Image drivers have problems with Vista, too; the only way to fix it is to reactivate once you've installed the new driver. Small businesses running Windows Vista could have all kinds of fun spending lots of money on several more hours of tech support activating each unit manually.

Oddly enough, this apparently only affects users who install Vista using retail media. Users who who purchased machines with Vista preinstalled don't seem to be affected, although it'll be interesting to see if anything happens when they update drivers on their system.

It begs the question: have you purchased your boxed retail version of Vista, yet?

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