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The (Potential) Iron Fist Of Microsoft’s WGA

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Microsoft’s Windows Genuine Advantage is drawing the ire of a number of experts, analysts, and users. The program is intended to guard against “counterfeit or non-genuine” copies of Windows; it also leads the way to “free downloads” and “free updates.” But many people think it’s getting a little too Big Brother-y.

Although Microsoft claims it “values your privacy, and we do not collect any information, such as your name or email address, that can be used to identify you or contact you,” the WGA makes daily contact with the company, for which the program has been compared to spyware. Each check-in transmits a timestamp and the user’s IP address.

Also of concern is the Redmond-based company’s increasing emphasis on the software. Ed Bott spoke with a Microsoft employee who said that “in the fall, having the latest WGA will become mandatory and if it’s not installed, Windows will give a 30 day warning and when the 30 days is up and WGA isn’t installed, Windows will stop working . . .”

A Microsoft spokesperson (sort of) substantiated that comment, writing to Bott that “as the WGA Notifications program expands in the future, customers may be required to participate.” The readers’ responses to Bott’s article (and others on the subject) show a distinct lack of support for “mandatory participation.” For that matter, most of them are not at all fond of the WGA in its current form.

Microsoft might want to rethink its plans for Windows Genuine Advantage, assuming the employee’s and spokesperson’s statements were correct. A number of Windows users (including many with legitimate copies) are already using shady “workarounds” rather than deal with the WGA. From all indications, that group will only grow, even as Microsoft’s reputation diminishes, if the WGA tries to strengthen its influence.

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Doug is a staff writer for WebProNews. Visit WebProNews for the latest eBusiness news.

The (Potential) Iron Fist Of Microsoft’s WGA
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