Microsoft Terminates MS Office Anti-Piracy Tool

Dennis Faas's picture

For those of you who dislike the pesky anti-piracy measures used by software companies, here's good news: Microsoft will discontinue its program of additional anti-piracy monitoring for its MS Office software.

A few years ago Microsoft introduced Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA), an anti-piracy measure that checked the validity of user operating systems by dialing into their computers. PCs found to be running illegal copies of Windows had their operating system desktop screen turned black with a message that their PC may be running counterfeit software.

Microsoft Office Genuine Advantage Blocked Security Updates

Even though the Windows Genuine Advantage validation was extremely unpopular, Microsoft pushed forward with a new initiative, called Office Genuine Advantage (OGA). OGA required users to register their copies of Microsoft Office and verify their software legitimacy.

Without validating Microsoft Office, users were not allowed to download MS Office updates, security patches, or new software templates. (Source:

Microsoft Office Genuine Advantage Axed

Surprisingly, Microsoft made no news of its decision to kill the Office Genuine Advantage program.

The only reason why the news became public is because an anonymous tipster pointed ZDNet blogger Ed Bott to a support document on Microsoft's website. It rather plainly noted that OGA "has been retired," but gave no reason for the decision. The Office Genuine Advantage program had been used for four years.

Follow-up emails from Microsoft weren't much more elaborate. "The program has served its purpose and thus we have decided to retire the program," a spokesperson said. (Source:

Microsoft Anti-Piracy Initiatives Continue

The Redmond-based firm hasn't given up on other anti-piracy initiatives, however.

Microsoft will continue to replace counterfeited copies of Office in cases where users thought they were purchasing legitimate copies of the software. This swap-for-legitimate-software program began in 2006, and was part of Microsoft's attempt to help confused consumers while also tracking and shutting down big time software distribution pirates.

Of course, Microsoft will continue to ask users to enter a 25-character activation password upon installation of the Office software. Anyone who decides to skip this step will find the functionality of their software drastically reduced.

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