June 29, 2006

A good debate

How well do you know your computer?

Microsoft recently started including their "Windows Genuine Advantage" (WGA) tracker as part of their critical updates. Now if you know you have a pirated copy of Windows, your pupils would have widened while reading that.

Heres how the WGA works:

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. Even with a completely patched system that is entirely legal, a system lacking the WGA software could be disabled.

I want to direct you to this article, and make up your own mind. Here are some of the comments that had me scratching my head:

- The Doom Machine strikes again:
More than 90% of the world's personal computers use Windows. I don't think Microsoft realizes that a vast majority of these copies are pirated, and furthermore, many of the users of these pirated copies are unaware they are pirated. That's just how it is when you dominate the industry to the degree that MS does. The point is, if MS decides to flip the 'killswitch', the repercussions could be more than just a couple dozen million people suddenly finding their computers unusable. We're talking shaking the foundations of civilization, economic collapse, governments being overthrown, real apocalyptic events here. That's the degree that Windows has become essential to the functioning of the world's economies and societies. The operating system company is just about as important to the first world countries of the world as the electric company...

- Kerii writes:
Apparently, some people are incapable of wraping their brain around the idea that software can be cracked. Didn't we go through this whole scenario before when XP Activation first came around?

- Response to the Doom Machine:
Geez, here we go again with the usual MS is evil, everyone will leave in droves, get a real OS, it will bring Governments, Countries, the entire World down etc etc crap. I run a licensed version, I see no issue with MS checking my license is valid from time to time. How can they make it work? Easy, the same as if you go past the activation period without activating XP. What if I don't download WGA? It could be a requirement before any future updates and activations. A similar update could mean a system level check to make sure WGA is still there, similar to when the system checks for changes to signal a new activation. You bought a license to use their software, what's wrong with them wanting to check it once in a while? And if they detect a pirated copy of their software, why is it wrong for them to want to disable it?

- response to that one:
Can you name any other product you own where you have to actively prove ownership in the absence of evidence to the contrary? I don't recall anyone ever knocking on my door demanding to see a home title or else they will board up the doors and windows.

- the shock:
So, let me get this straight – Windows has to validate when you install it, by phoning home to Microsoft, and then has to continue to validate on some sort of regular basis to continue to prove to MS that the software that you purchased is still valid? Seriously -- you guys put up with this shit? In absolutely any other business customers would tell a vendor who tried to pull off a scheme this outrageous to go take a hike; with Microsoft they defend it. Unbelievable.

- and finally (the thoughts I side with the most):
Okay I understand where Microsoft is coming from on this, but honestly this move would piss off far too many people... they are better off just leaving this for Vista and that way no one can complain "I had no idea I've been running a pirated copy all this time". Let the pirates run their copies of XP until the next millenia or let them switch to Linux, it's not like Microsoft was getting their money anyway.

If you believe you might have downloaded it as part of a security update, you can get rid of it, but you might want to call a computer geek "friend" to help you out. Go here for the article, or HERE for the how-to and print this out before beginning.

If not, perhaps watching these might persuade you to avoid this altogether.

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