It was hard to miss the news about the WGA (Windows Genuine Advantage (?)) outage Microsoft had this weekend. Just in case you managed it somehow, you might want to catch up on it in this Computerworld article. Microsoft's Windows Genuine Advantage blog has an update about the "continuing investigation". Alex Kochis claims that "fewer than 12,000 systems were affected".

Latest posts by Michael Pietroforte (see all)

Considering how many (genuine) Windows systems are out there, this doesn't seem to be so much. However, 12,000 paying customers ran into problems even though Microsoft promised them that WGA will give them a "genuine advantage".

System failures always happen. No IT system has a 100% up time. What is annoying about WGA is that Microsoft tells their customers it is only to their advantage. This is comparable to the new activation rules for Vista and Windows Server 2008. They unquestionably cause extra costs for Windows customers. But Microsoft keeps telling us that it is only for our best interest. I never understood why should higher revenues for Microsoft benefit me.

This incident is just another example that shows that any kind of anti-piracy technology only brings disadvantage to the customer. Microsoft knows that, and we know it, too. It is this obvious insincerity that displeases me.

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Update: The WGA Blog has now an explanation of the incident.

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    Lukas Beeler 16 years ago

    These are just typical marketing guys spurting complete nonsense. But that’s how the world works (but you already knew that).


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    I wonder if it really works. I guess I am not the only one who is repelled by this kind of marketing. But maybe this is just where we differ from the Americans. I think they are much more relaxed about things like this.

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    Rob Harmer 16 years ago

    If you think that the DRM activation issues that users face with WGA, OGA and DRM under Vista are a concern, wait until every other software vendor (ISVs) starts coming up with varied combinations and derivatives on how they will “activate/control” your PC.

    From October ISVs will be able to license, using similar techniques to WGA/OGA/DRM using Software Licensing and Protection Services (SLP Services).


    When this happens it will be a disaster beyond proportions unspeakable as the ISVs come up with their own “innovative ways” to turn on/off software to control licensing usage!

    Whilst it might be true that Microsoft is tracking your PID via a software manifest with encrypted hardware details, I’d rather trust Microsoft to do that safely than a small time software developer who has weak systems control and leaves backdoors open for attack, just so they can activate/track their own ISV licenses using DRM.

    Microsoft needs to be given, by business houses, the very clear message (I am not saying jump to Open Source either by making this statement) that the software once licensed correctly and installed needs to be left stable and alone so that we can run the business without interference and without further activation/reactivation/validation. ie; activate once then go away and let us run the business under our control !

    Letting the SLP source code out to ISVs is a huge risk that we all need to be very wary of and stamp out as vocally as we can!

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    Chris Allen 14 years ago

    I just had this thing come up- I’m trying to find how it will benefit me. This is a legal copy; I spent enough for it, when I didn’t want to upgrade from 98. I needed ntfs and nt4 didn’t have usb support.
    I’ve already converted my family computer to Ubuntu rather than buy another copy of XP (old one had proprietary compaq xp)and it’s fine. If I could get all of my work programs to use Linux I would. I’m annoyed. I understand that they want their stuff legal, and that’s fine. All my art and editing programs are legal too, but Avid doesn’t treat me like a criminal. So again, how is it to my advantage to install it?
    Michael, Americans are fiercely independent and hate this kinda thing- just watch the town hall meetings.

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    Joe 14 years ago


    Totally agree. I am deploying 6 copies of 2008 R2 and 2 copies of SQL and am stopped dead in my tracks trying to read through 75 pages of how to activate my servers. If I deploy KMS and it stops, my 24/7 Production environment goes down. True, it’s after 180 days, but licensing is not something I want to monitor or administer. Licensing and activation should always be a foregone conclusion that it will occur simply; it should never be something that requires a ‘Planning Guide’, an ‘Operations Guide’ and a ‘Deployment Guide’. When I tried to get help from them, I could only see a website that, after stepping through the screens, asked me to pre-approve charges to speak with someone. I called in, got hung up on the first time, used the number they gave me before hanging up on me to try again and got a new number to call, and now, after the third call, am waiting for a callback within the next 8 hours.

    I will certainly attend any town hall meeting on this issue!

    It is clear that Microsoft’s days are numbered.

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    Lukas Beeler 14 years ago


    A server 2008 R2 with expired licensing will not cause ANY functionality to cease! Everything will still run as normal, except you’ll get warnings when logging in interactively.

    We use MAK activation, and i’ve forgotten to activate one of our 2008 Core DCs when i set it up. It ran without activation for roughly 1.5 years – i only noticed this when i ran the checks before upgrading it to 2008 R2…

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