Microsoft 'Kill Switch' for non-WGA Compliant Systems?

Dennis Faas's picture

Unless you've been living under a rock for the past few weeks, you've undoubtedly stumbled across the term "WGA" -- or more affectionately known as, The Windows Genuine Advantage Program.

Reminder: What is WGA?

Designed as anti-piracy software by Microsoft, WGA is an install designed to check the legitimacy of a user's Windows applications and Operating System. Those whose systems are running pirated software are given the chance to purchase legitimate identification keys or prove that they were duped into buying the illegal merchandise. Those who are victims of piracy dealers -- and can prove it -- will be provided a new, free, version of Windows by Microsoft.

WGA: Dubbed Spyware

The issue many users have with WGA is that it "phones home". Much like Spyware, the Windows Genuine Advantage has the ability to report back periodically (some reports say every day) to a central station -- in this case Microsoft HQ -- to keep tabs on a user's system.

WGA Kill Switch: Fact or Fiction?

Some of the most vehement opposition to WGA has come from bloggers. Recent rumors have spread alleging that Microsoft will have the ability to "kill" the Operating System of anyone not complying with WGA or its download by Fall of 2006. (Source:

Removing WGA

RemoveWGA adds a new line to the registry of those who download it, discarding the Notification Tool employed by WGA (at the time of your next boot).

Developed by a French security firm named Firewall Leak Tester, RemoveWGA removes the more problematic Notification Tool, but reportedly leaves the second (less controversial), Validation Tool alone. It is the Notification Tool that is responsible for "phoning home" to Microsoft, a tactic that irks users with both pirated and non-pirated software alike.

Staying WGA-Free

There are some issues with the download, however. As expected, Microsoft has not made it easy to remove its program, meaning that the final WGA notification update, KB905474, cannot be removed in a clean manner.

This is because the program intentionally blocks the removal of WGAlogon.dll, a file whose ultimate deletion can cause a system crash. RemoveWGA remains a popular download despite this risk, and reports are that the Notification Tool will still be removed.

Also keep in mind that once you return to the Microsoft website, you will be prompted to reinstall the software. Those wishing to stay WGA-free (while it is still possible, it seems) should have learned their lesson. Those interested in the download should also note that it cannot be run from a removeable drive and the file name itself cannot be changed. Finally, make sure to allow the changes if you are prompted by a security/firewall program. (Source:

You can also check out Clif Sipe's method of removing WGA:

Kill WGA with "The Big Fix"

The reality is, however, that Microsoft has yet to play hardball. The WGA "pilot" can be removed through this link. The final version of WGA will not be so kind, so keep checking for more news on its development and possible removal tools.

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