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Windows Nag Windows to Counter Piracy 548

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the pirate-vein-rupture dept.
Vicegrip writes "Microsoft is enhancing its Genuine Advantage program in the US, Australia, UK, Malaysia and NZ to now include persistent nag screens to remind that your version of Windows is not licensed. These nag screens will keep appearing until you license your version of Windows or, presumably, convince Microsoft they've made a mistake."
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Windows Nag Windows to Counter Piracy

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  • by phy_si_kal (729421) on Wednesday April 26, 2006 @12:04PM (#15205277)
    The 8th edition : MS Windows Vista $hareware
    • Re:Next move... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by lostvyking (961119) on Wednesday April 26, 2006 @01:08PM (#15205862)
      Windows Vista is becoming more and more "Windows XP warmed over". It seems to be less and less about innovation and improvement...and more and more about re-selling Windows XP with stronger piracy protection. At this point, what is new about Vista that cannot already be achieved with third-party software and drivers? This all translates to Vista being written for their own benefit rather than for the benefit of the users. So far, like the new version of office coming out...I have yet to see anything that is new that will compel me to purchase it.

      Now, if they offered a scaled down version that contained only the most necessary of drivers and a simple user interface to access drives and programs (think 32-bit safe mode) that I could then build it up from there, I would jump on it in a heartbeat.
      • Re:Next move... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by tmasssey (546878) on Wednesday April 26, 2006 @01:41PM (#15206142) Homepage Journal
        I feel exactly the same way about Windows XP: it's Windows 2000 warmed over. There are a couple of half-features that make it slightly better, but certainly not worth *paying* for. Most of my clients have standardized on Windows 2000 and will skip XP completely.

        Several years ago, I had hoped that Linux would be a possible upgrade path from 2000 by the time Longhorn (now Vista) gets here. But it won't be, and it looks like we'll end up paying for that upgrade, even if there *still* isn't a compelling reason to upgrade...

        • Re:Next move... (Score:4, Informative)

          by lostvyking (961119) on Wednesday April 26, 2006 @01:59PM (#15206299)
          What is ironic is that Win2k was actually Windows NT 5.0, and when XP came out, it was Windows NT 5.1. That was not publicized much for obvious reasons. "...and now you know".
      • by Anonymous Coward
        I like your comment on Vista becoming "XP warmed over". But there is a problem. "Vista" is non-compliant with traditional Microsoft OS names. Here are my suggested product names based on compatibility with MS standard naming convention:

        Windows 2007 Dull but it worked in 1995, 1998, 2000, and 2003
        Windows XP 2007 XP, new and improved for 2007
        Windows X[Q...Z] If XP is "extra pain", then XQ is ...
        Windows ME 2007 ME is Redmond-speak for "warmed over". Ah, the nostalgia of it all
        Windows XP Service Pack 3 Tru
  • obligatory (Score:5, Funny)

    by phase_9 (909592) on Wednesday April 26, 2006 @12:05PM (#15205287) Homepage
    cracks in 3...2...
    • Re:obligatory (Score:3, Interesting)

      by idontgno (624372)
      Why?

      Quote [microsoft.com]

      How to uninstall Windows Genuine Advantage Notifications
      You can uninstall Windows Genuine Advantage Notifications by using Add or Remove Programs in Control Panel.

      Now the obvious followup question is: What happens if I do uninstall this nagware? Am I crippling Windows? Will the Windows Genuine Disadvantage (tm) be reinstalled behind my back at the next automatic update? Will my name, address, phone number, IP address, and credit card information be phoned home to the Microsoft Secret Police?

      • Re:obligatory (Score:4, Insightful)

        by DaHat (247651) on Wednesday April 26, 2006 @12:20PM (#15205450) Homepage
        There is very little in the userland side of an operating system that cannot be easily removed... likely this will be the same, they just won't provide a mechanism or instructions on how to remove it.

        With some time and testing it would be possible to come up with a diff of both before and after its installation and come up with manual removal process... Sure it can be beaten, but I doubt this method is meant to be impenetrable from the l33t hax0rs of the world, instead they are trying to stop casual piracy and those who unknowingly purchases illegal copies of Windows.
        • Re:obligatory (Score:3, Insightful)

          by NullProg (70833)
          instead they are trying to stop casual piracy and those who unknowingly purchases illegal copies of Windows.

          I disagree. They see the sales of white box computers not matching the Windows Boxes sold and assume everyone is stealing from them. Never mind that people might be installing Linux/Win98/2000/BSD or whatever onto these computers. Look for them to lobby Congress about outlawing unlicensed computers next.

          Enjoy,
        • Re:obligatory (Score:4, Informative)

          by Buran (150348) on Wednesday April 26, 2006 @04:44PM (#15207569)
          There is very little in the userland side of an operating system that cannot be easily removed... likely this will be the same, they just won't provide a mechanism or instructions on how to remove it.

          There is already a way to modify the registry to remove the system tray warning balloons.

          Tips & Tricks: Kill the System Tray Balloons [imason.com]

          (I am not sure why there is no UI for this. You'd think it'd be a common request).
      • Programs that require you to be genuine authed will not install/run (IE7, Windows Defender, etc).
      • by Asphalt (529464) on Wednesday April 26, 2006 @12:53PM (#15205739)
        Am I crippling Windows?

        No, it comes that way out of the box.

      • Re:obligatory (Score:4, Informative)

        by operagost (62405) on Wednesday April 26, 2006 @01:10PM (#15205880) Homepage Journal
        That's totally a misquote.

        How to uninstall Windows Genuine Advantage Notifications
        You can use Add or Remove Programs to view Windows Genuine Advantage Notifications, but you cannot use Add or Remove Programs to remove the notifications.

        • I read an article about this yesterday, I think it came from Google News (now I can't find it, and I was going to submit it to /. too) where the journalist actually corresponded via email with someone from Microsoft and got explicit answers to questions on how easy it is to install, decline to install, and remove. I think this was from some tech publication in New Zealand or Australia.

          At any rate, what I remember being the bottom line was that you can decline to install the Notification system without penalty, by declining the EULA. However, how many people really read those EULAs, and how many people just click through them? We all know the answer to that. Once you've clicked through and agreed to install the software, it's not designed to be removable. Regardless of whether or not it may be possible to remove (much like IE is removable, if you're really determined) it's not supposed to be. This was made pretty clear in the email from the MS rep.

          It's not uninstallable, it may perhaps be removable, is I guess the bottom line here. Those are two different things.

          The closest you can get to "uninstalling" it is disabling the notifications, but they'll go back on automatically the next time a new release is downloaded.
    • Re:obligatory (Score:5, Interesting)

      by richy freeway (623503) on Wednesday April 26, 2006 @12:24PM (#15205492)
      It's cracked already.

      There's a LegitCheckControl.dll floating around that you dump into c:\windows\system32 whilst in safe mode, give the PC a reboot and all is well. Windowsupdate etc work fine.

      Not that I've tried it or anything... ;)

    • I hope not! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by babbling (952366) on Wednesday April 26, 2006 @12:25PM (#15205499)
      I fully support Microsoft's anti-copying measures. I'd love to see them really lock up Windows updates so that only legitimate users can get access to them, or even better, I'd love to see them create a Windows and an Office that is too tough to crack.

      I don't think all of the current Windows users are willing to pay for Windows, and if they are forced into doing it, there's a good chance they'll look elsewhere. Those that do decide to pay for Windows will also eventually be tempted by any alternative that has zero cost.

      In trying to make all users pay for Windows, Microsoft would be shooting themselves in the foot, and I think they realise that they need illegitimate copying. Not too much, but not too little, either...
      • Re:I hope not! (Score:3, Interesting)

        by LiquidCoooled (634315)
        How do they know that your Windows key is more legit than an identical key used 2 months ago?

        Its like when people purchase games and the serial has already been registered.

        Clever hackers create a random valid key which is used before the person with the legit box, when the person with the legit boxed version connects its too late, that magic number has already been used.
        • Re:I hope not! (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Kadin2048 (468275) <slashdot.kadin@x ... minus herbivore> on Wednesday April 26, 2006 @02:33PM (#15206576) Homepage Journal
          That would be rather amusing, actually ... create a sort of Windows Genuine Advantage "war dialer" that went through and generated random serial numbers and registered them. One by one, if you just let it go (and Microsoft didn't notice) you'd deplete the keyspace. All of a sudden, people's shiny new HP's they brought home from Best Buy would start saying that they were "counterfeit," straight out of the box. And if you did it to Vista machines, that new interface wouldn't run, along with IE and Defender.

          Man, that would be beautiful.

          I have a feeling Microsoft would catch on though, when they saw the same IP address trying to register 50 or 60 different serial numbers a second. Maybe if you used one of those spam-zombie networks though, you could do it. (Now there's some irony.)
  • My Mother (Score:5, Funny)

    by cheese-cube (910830) <cheese.cube@gmail.com> on Wednesday April 26, 2006 @12:05PM (#15205293) Homepage
    So can I presume that it will then start telling me to clean my room, do the dishes and take out the bins?
  • Why not? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Valdrax (32670) on Wednesday April 26, 2006 @12:06PM (#15205295)
    Hey, why not? After all, I'm sure you're like me and you've registered every bit of shareware that had nag screens, right?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 26, 2006 @12:06PM (#15205296)
    I won't even notice that message with all the other Window's errors I get on the screen and all the reminders from every program that needs to update.
  • by AnonymousComrade (465177) on Wednesday April 26, 2006 @12:06PM (#15205297) Homepage
    Install a virtual desktop manager. Move nag screen to an unused desktop. Voila, problem gone (or at least out of sight).
    • by Valdrax (32670) on Wednesday April 26, 2006 @12:08PM (#15205321)
      Install a virtual desktop manager. Move nag screen to an unused desktop. Voila, problem gone (or at least out of sight).

      You, sir, are brilliant.

      Of course, that's assuming that the dialog isn't modal and that it obeys whatever scheme you're using to hide the other Windows and never deliberately pops to the front of all desktops.... But Microsoft would never break functionality to wring more revenue out of....

      Eh, never mind. Maybe not.
  • by Stevyn (691306) on Wednesday April 26, 2006 @12:06PM (#15205300)
    "Even though you are using an unlicensed copy, you're still helping up maintain marketshare. Thank you."

  • Best thing ever... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rsborg (111459) on Wednesday April 26, 2006 @12:06PM (#15205301) Homepage
    to happen to Linux and, to a smaller degree, Mac OSX.

    And not at the expense of existing paying Windows customers.

    I don't think Microsoft is going to be convinced otherwise, and if people are pirating when they would really not use anything else, then hell, they should pay for their Windows license.

    It might move those who pirate just for fun into other OS's :-)

    • by Penguinisto (415985) on Wednesday April 26, 2006 @12:21PM (#15205460) Journal
      I honestly can't wait until the inevitable SP or critical update that accidentally hoses everyone's machine into thinking it's pirated.

      Meanwhile, over here in OSX/Linux/FreeBSD-land, I'll happily tut-tut my relatives and friends who still use Windows and show them a better way to go about the whole computer thing.

      time to burn a few extra Ubuntu install disks, folks :)

      /P

  • by sd4l (448263) * on Wednesday April 26, 2006 @12:06PM (#15205303)

    These nag screens will keep appearing until you license your version of Windows or, presumably, convince Microsoft they've made a mistake

    Or until you remove the notifications program. From Microsoft's Genuine Advantage KB article (i.e. TFA):

    You can uninstall Windows Genuine Advantage Notifications by using Add or Remove Programs in Control Panel.

  • by Brad1138 (590148) <brad1138@yahoo.com> on Wednesday April 26, 2006 @12:06PM (#15205306)
    For the hack to fix this.
  • by Billosaur (927319) * <wgrother@@@optonline...net> on Wednesday April 26, 2006 @12:06PM (#15205308) Journal

    FTA: Microsoft says that every time a notification is displayed, the user will receive detailed information about the specific validation failure. The information includes steps that can be taken to resolve the problem.

    These don't seem to include, "try Linux instead".

    Oh to be able to hack Genuine Advantage...

  • Certification during installation. So why the hell do all my Microsoft PocketPC applications tell me they are from an unknown publisher. WTF M$ ???

    Can't you at least perform your own tasks!!!!
  • what nags me.. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Keruo (771880) on Wednesday April 26, 2006 @12:08PM (#15205316)
    is the genuine check on genuine product..
    Your copy of windows is genuine and activated.. but lets check it anyway. again. again and again.
    Seesh.
    • The genuine product checks never really bothered me, it was very quick and was only used when I was getting something from MS, for my money this should just make it easier for genuine users (although the extent to which it will stop cracks is debatable). I have no problem with them wanting to sell software that they make, I also don't really care what price they want to charge for it, thats just the free market, if people don't like it there are about 600 others to choose from, some of which are free (in b
  • Mistake? (Score:5, Funny)

    by StevenHenderson (806391) <stevehenderson.gmail@com> on Wednesday April 26, 2006 @12:08PM (#15205320)
    or, presumably, convince Microsoft they've made a mistake...

    Well, the software got out the door, so aren't we a little late on this? :)

  • by millia (35740) on Wednesday April 26, 2006 @12:10PM (#15205337) Homepage

    From my standpoint, what was more interesting was:
    a) This was a high priority item. Yes, this is as important as fixing IE flaws. Surely.
    b) How it's listed in the license agreement:
    MICROSOFT PRE-RELEASE SOFTWARE LICENSE TERMS
    MICROSOFT WINDOWS GENUINE ADVANTAGE VALIDATION TOOL

    So they're putting BETA software into high priority updates?
    • All I know is that I installed that update, rebooted and got the first bluescreen I've ever seen on this machine (work machine... what do I care? We're already an MS partner...). Haven't gotten one since, but it was definitely strange.
  • Planet Microsoft (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ed Almos (584864) on Wednesday April 26, 2006 @12:10PM (#15205339)
    I sometimes wonder what planet Microsoft are on. On todays page we have news that the Vista firewall is to be crippled and now we find that there will be nag screens.

    Do these guys WANT to drive users to open source?

    Ed Almos
    • Granted, one shouldn't steal software from Microsoft. Stealing, even from another thief, is still wrong. I suspect most pirates will ignore the nag screens and those that are truly offended will just us another OS. I doubt this is going to contribute a penny in new sales for Microsoft, but it will generate negative publicity. As the RIAA/MPAA have shown us, as a company/organization loses relevance to its constituency, they will employ ever more desperate measures to maintain their hold on those constit
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 26, 2006 @12:12PM (#15205365)
    I'd like one for the wallpaper on my very proper corporate desktop. Just to give the Sysadmins heart failure.
  • Since Vista will be crapware, MS is gonna try to push people to buy XP. Nice one MS.

    http://religiousfreaks.com/ [religiousfreaks.com]
    • I fear that Vista will be the next Windows ME. Which means that when people I know buy a computer with Vista and they ask me about the problems they're having, I'll tell them to get a copy of XP installed on it instead.
      I had to do the same thing with Win ME. It pained me to say that Win 98 was the better alternative, but compared to Morons Edition, it was true.
  • Question: The new "Genuine Advantage" tester is an Update on Windows Update. What happens if you just don't install it?
  • by inigopete (780297) on Wednesday April 26, 2006 @12:15PM (#15205399)
    or, presumably, convince Microsoft they've made a mistake.

    has _anyone_ done this?

  • by jamar0303 (896820) on Wednesday April 26, 2006 @12:17PM (#15205425)
    It used to be that in my area of Shanghai I could see people selling pirated copies of Windows everywhere (about 16 stands of CDs in a 5km radius). Now, about half of those stands have stopped selling Windows, and are now selling Linux. Coincidence, I think not- MS activation is getting so annoying that they're giving up and going to Linux.
  • The new DMCA has a provision for civil forfietures (if you are in the US) that would allow the feds to seize every computer component you have for posting cracks, linking to cracks, or discussing the use of cracks.

    Welcome to the new world order.

  • Anagram (Score:5, Funny)

    by null etc. (524767) on Wednesday April 26, 2006 @12:20PM (#15205453)
    Genuine Advantage Notification = GAN = NAG spelled backwards. Coincedence?
  • by houghi (78078) on Wednesday April 26, 2006 @12:24PM (#15205497)
    The more people are forced to pay for their software, the more people will look out for alternatives. Not everybody. Not all the the same time.

    If every Linux user can only convice 1 other user to start using Linux, it will the the main player. Naturlay that new Linux user must also convince 1 other user.

    A sort of one-dimentional piramid sceme
  • Genuine Advantage program in the US, Australia, UK, Malaysia and NZ

    Phew! Canada dodges a bullet.
  • Opt Out (Score:3, Informative)

    by Jafafa Hots (580169) on Wednesday April 26, 2006 @12:27PM (#15205525) Homepage Journal
    When it tried to install this morning, I was able to uncheck the box for the program while installing the security update it was bulndled with.... it then warned me that I was not installing this "advantage" crap... but that allowed me to check a box saying "never tell me about this again."

    The moral of the story? Take your PC off of auto updates and instead set it to ask permission first!

    (btw, my copy of XP is legit.)

    • Re:Opt Out (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Crayon Kid (700279)
      The moral of the story? Take your PC off of auto updates and instead set it to ask permission first!

      (btw, my copy of XP is legit.)


      If it wasn't, you wouldn't have been able to disable auto-updates. Owners of copies that fail genuine check can choose between auto-updates or no updates, period.
  • by Psykechan (255694) on Wednesday April 26, 2006 @12:29PM (#15205544)
    Are they going to have the annoying Windows XP style message box hovering over the tray that tells me that my USB 2 device could work faster if it was plugged into a non-existant USB 2 port on my USB 1.1 system?

    Maybe they could have the annoying Search Mutt take up the left hand window and do a little animation while I have to figure out how to turn it off?

    Or they could have that bastard Clippy come on screen and tell me something like "It looks like your copy of Microsoft Windows" isn't licensed properly." with a list of solutions on how I can throw more money at MS.

    Lastly there is the universal message box that could pop up right in the middle of the screen stealing focus. That's a classic.

    Microsoft Windows has so many annoyances to choose from that most users will probably just click OK when the message box pops up. After all, it's worked so well for WinZip.
    • Yes, for years I have been calling Windows XP, Whinedows.

      I do agree there are too many annoying pop ups and messages, but then, because of the installed marketshare that Windows has, they have to cater to the lowest common denominator, i.e. people that wouldn't realize their USB could work faster because they have no clue what the difference is between 1.1 and 2.0.

      On the other hand, you could model an OS like OSX, which tells you nothing. You never know when something doesn't work because Apple doesn't see
    • Are they going to have the annoying Windows XP style message box hovering over the tray that tells me that my USB 2 device could work faster if it was plugged into a non-existant USB 2 port on my USB 1.1 system?

      Whoo boy!! Have i got a registry key for you!
      HKLM\microsoft\windows\currentversion\explorer\adv anced\

      Create/set a new DWORD: enableballoontips=0(hex value)
    • Maybe they could have the annoying Search Mutt take up the left hand window and do a little animation while I have to figure out how to turn it off?

      Strangely enough, I got a new PC in work today that was the most recent XP build our IT dept has put out. On the search page there was a new "link" at the bottom saying "turn off animated character". I clicked on it and the dog walked off into the distance, never to be seen again. That damn mutt actually made me smile! Nice new feature, not sure if it was M$'s

  • Horrible submission (Score:3, Informative)

    by rholliday (754515) on Wednesday April 26, 2006 @12:49PM (#15205705) Homepage Journal
    First, the title is "Windows Nag Windows to Counter Piracy." What does that even mean?

    Second, as nearly everyone has already noted, as designed this will not "keep appearing until you license your version of Windows or, presumably, convince Microsoft they've made a mistake." It is uninstallable.
  • by merc (115854) <slashdot@upt.org> on Wednesday April 26, 2006 @12:51PM (#15205720) Homepage
    Linux does not nag you ;-)
  • Missing the point... (Score:5, Informative)

    by DigitlDud (443365) on Wednesday April 26, 2006 @01:02PM (#15205805)
    The point of this program is not to nag people who knowingly pirated Windows. They're just going to uninstall/hack it or whatever. It's to notify people who DON'T know that they're using a pirated XP install. Then they know not to buy computers from "John's Shady Computer Store" in the future.
  • It's all good. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by His name cannot be s (16831) on Wednesday April 26, 2006 @01:05PM (#15205837) Journal
    I'm a tad suprised at the negative view that the Slashdot crowd has around WGA.

    Seriously, it's nothing but good for everybody.

    1. Microsoft gets to protect the copyright on its products. Protecting copyright is good for everyone. Proprietary, GPL, Open Source, it all boils down to Intelectual Property Law, and if there were no circumvention of it, people would be forced to make more appropriate choices. You're pretty pissed when companies violate the GPL, right? You should be equally pissed when someone violates the Windows EULA. Look at it this way: for every pirated copy of Windows, there is one less Linux User. If they can't afford Windows, welcome to the Free World.

    2. If you can't run a bootleg copy of Windows, maybe you will try something else/better ... a perfectly functional WGA would be Linux's best friend. Who the heck is going to shell out $300 bux for an OS on a $300 PC? Suddenly the value proposition around Linux becomes much more appealing.

    == feh ==
  • by Qwavel (733416) on Wednesday April 26, 2006 @01:32PM (#15206071)
    No problem - Windows Defender (formerly MS Anti-Spyware) will remove this. Won't it?
  • by Jackie_Chan_Fan (730745) on Wednesday April 26, 2006 @02:29PM (#15206554)
    Today i've decided that its time i try linux again. I have a dual AMD 2000+ with 1 gig sitting here doing nothing. I'll keep my amd64 windows, but i'm going to install linux on the older dual and get up to speed.

    Thank you Microsoft.
  • That was easy. (Score:5, Informative)

    by drwiii (434) on Wednesday April 26, 2006 @03:36PM (#15207000)
    If you think Windows starts up slowly enough as it is, you can disable WGA by removing the execute bit on WgaLogon.dll. That way, winlogon can't call it as a notification package at boot, and since WgaLogon is responsible for running and maintaining WgaTray.exe, no more tray popups either.

    And since the read bit is still there, you won't trip Windows Update to force you to reinstall it; the DLL still matches with the WU catalog and all the WGA registry keys are still in place.

  • On morality (Score:3, Interesting)

    by RenHoek (101570) on Wednesday April 26, 2006 @06:55PM (#15208487) Homepage
    I'll repost the comment that I wrote on the Ars Technica forums. This in reaction to somebody who said that Piracy == Evil, and that if I don't want to pay for it, I simply shouldn't use it.

    While I agree in principle, I feel Microsoft has lost the moral right to my money. My point:

    I go out to buy bread daily and my town has a street with all the supermarkets right next to eachother. Microsoft is one of them. They sell bread but I don't like the taste of their bread, so I go and buy at a competitor. All is fine.

    The next day I come back, expecting to buy my bread at the store I bought at yesterday, but the store is on fire. Microsoft is holding a wholesale on matches. I go to yet another competitor. All is fine.

    The next day I come back, expecting to buy my bread at the store I bought at yesterday, but the store is flooded and you can see sharks swimming in the water. Microsoft is holding a wholesale on garden hose...

    You'll see where I'm going at. In the end there is only Microsoft with crappy tasting bread, Apple who sells exotic whole grain Knackebrod and Linux who just stands on the sidewalk and hands out free stuff. The only reason why Apple still exists is because they are expensive, and the whole reason Linux exists is because Microsoft can't destroy their store.

    In short, Microsoft made bloody sure I HAVE NO CHOICE but to use windows (I play games, yes I know about Cedega, I have other windows only programs that I need to run, yes I know of wine and reactos, stop trying to ruin my example). So I see no moral reason to hand this thug my money.

    If windows ever becomes 100% pirate proof, I will head to Linux even if I have to give up gaming. I'm a software engineer. One thing Microsoft does NOT want me to do is go to Linux, find out that I cannot do certain things I _have_ to have and then make it myself. Although I do think Linux would start a tremendous growth spurt if this scenario would ever come into play.

The universe seems neither benign nor hostile, merely indifferent. -- Sagan

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