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WGA Turning Off PCs in the Fall? 857

Posted by Zonk
from the no-more-clippy dept.
thesaint05 writes "We all know about Microsoft's WGA initiative that started last July. Most of us were troubled to learn that the WGA has been 'phoning home' to Microsoft at every boot. Well, get ready, because eventually Microsoft may be turning off copies of Windows without WGA installed. According to a Microsoft technician, 'in the fall, having the latest WGA will become mandatory and if its 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, so you might as well install WGA now.'" A new version of WGA was released on Tuesday and, at least for the time being, Windows users have the option of removing WGA from their systems.
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WGA Turning Off PCs in the Fall?

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  • What? What was that sound? Was that the sound of millions of unlicensed Windows machines all screaming out in shutdown all at once - and then suddenly silenced?

    To keep the current Futurama motif running, quoth Professor Farnsworth, "The Jedi are going to feel this one!"

    Seriously, though, doesn't Microsoft realize that significant number of users aren't going to go out and suddenly buy Windows? Sure, most (half?) will, but the rest will go hunting for a truly free (read: no-cost) alternative until a hack comes out.

    How could this possibly be a good idea now ? Maybe if it had been there all along, or was introduced in a new release (XP, Vista, whatever)... but why spring it on the unsuspecting masses mid-cycle? That just screams massive user migration.

    Not that I'm shedding any tears in reaction to that concept!
    • by RightSaidFred99 (874576) on Thursday June 29, 2006 @12:46PM (#15629180)
      Wait, let me read between the oh so subtle lines... You think people are going to be migrating in droves to Linux? Give me a break, people won't be moving to Linux. They'll find a hack for Windows, they'll buy Windows, or more than likely they'll just buy a new PC that comes with Windows legally bundled. Nobody is moving to Linux because the games aren't there, the thousands of cheesy little Windows applications people love aren't there, it's different (read: scary), and it's a pain in the ass for most joe schmoes to install.
      • by Psx29 (538840) on Thursday June 29, 2006 @12:50PM (#15629231)
        Maybe they'll get a mac?
        • Maybe they'll get a mac?

          Wait, wait, wait... Apple just convinced me that my Mac was a PC... 'cause it can run Windows... how does getting a Mac help if I still install a pirated copy of Windows under Boot Camp?

          Oh... wait, right - I'm *NOT* supposed to use/install Windows, I've already got Mac OS...

          (Okay... so this post was *pure* sarcasm. Spoken like a true self-deprecating confirmed Mac user for many years...)
      • Nobody is moving to Linux because the games aren't there, the thousands of cheesy little Windows applications people love aren't there, it's different (read: scary), and it's a pain in the ass for most joe schmoes to install.

        I resent the implication that Windows isn't scary and a pain in the ass to use. It's just what everyone's accustomed to.

        Big difference. (not that I don't see and agree with your point to some extent, however!)
      • What drove me to linux on the desktop was my increasing unease at the amount of stuff windows was sharing with MS. That was about 3 years ago, I suppose. I don't think people will move in droves either , but if the threat of it was enough to push me over the edge, I'd imagine there's plenty more people not too unlike me that would move as well. I'm not -that- unusual.
      • by sckeener (137243) on Thursday June 29, 2006 @01:09PM (#15629481)
        Nobody is moving to Linux because the games aren't there, the thousands of cheesy little Windows applications people love aren't there, it's different (read: scary), and it's a pain in the ass for most joe schmoes to install.

        They might move to MACs. I've been doing windows support for decades and in the last several months, I've actually had some users ask about hooking their MACs into our network....I was shocked because these users are not savy with the tech. I would have thought moving to a MAC would be a big deal for them...but it wasn't.

        I helpped them and I am hopeful about Apple's new sleek laptops. Doesn't hurt that they have such nice ads for the MACs now....
        • by Overly Critical Guy (663429) on Thursday June 29, 2006 @02:39PM (#15630454)
          Why do people capitalize "MAC?" It's Mac, short for Macintosh. MAC means something else.

          It's like those people who call it OS/X or OS-X. Where are they getting these magic hyphens and slashes from?
      • by mausmalone (594185) on Thursday June 29, 2006 @02:06PM (#15630097) Homepage Journal
        No... they won't need to migrate anything. Some fortune 500 company who didn't install windows correctly is gonna have all their computers shut off at once and MS is going to get sued like there's no tomorrow. And that'll pretty much be the end of WGA.
    • by DaHat (247651) on Thursday June 29, 2006 @12:47PM (#15629185) Homepage
      I disagree, most users are not very bright and as such when their PC stops working they'll do just about anything to make it work... whether it be plunk down 100-300 bucks for a copy of windows or even 300-500 for a new Windows based PC.

      Sure... they could go to Linux or other open source based systems but the fact that most have never heard of it and just want their PC to work exactly as it did before basically precludes this possibility.
      • I agree to an extent. But the OP has a point as well. Either way, Microsoft will be decreasing their install base in order to gain a few more legit sales. Expect to see more volume license keys here and there.

        This really smacks of cutting off one's nose to spite one's face. If they do go through with this, I can see them losing their monopoly status within a few years.
      • by bigpat (158134) on Thursday June 29, 2006 @12:57PM (#15629327)
        Sure... they could go to Linux or other open source based systems but the fact that most have never heard of it and just want their PC to work exactly as it did before basically precludes this possibility.

        Money is a suprisingly efficient motivator.

        • by wishus (174405) on Thursday June 29, 2006 @01:15PM (#15629536) Journal
          Money is a suprisingly efficient motivator.

          If the pirate knew everything that you and I know, including (1) how to install, configure, and use linux, and (2) how to recover all his important files and make them work in linux, then he might consider switching to linux full-time.

          Unfortunately, I don't know the profile of the average windows pirate, but I would assume that he doesn't know the things that we know, and that retaining access to the files that are important to him and the other software (office, iTunes, digital camera, etc.) that he is used to - and may have paid for - is going to outweigh the cost of purchasing windows (which is like $88 [newegg.com]).
          • I dunno, I've seen people drive 20 miles across town to save five bucks on something, but don't have any problem walking into a car dealership and laying down bank without checking around. Where would XP fall into a situation like this? I'm not going to have to deal with it, since I've recently switched to runnning Linux on all my boxes, but sometimes people have funny behaviors when it comes to saving money. It might not turn out exactly the way MS expects.


            Oh, I've still got XP on a tablet. Too bad the inking and character recognition were better on Linux, or I'd switch that over too.

        • by westlake (615356) on Thursday June 29, 2006 @01:33PM (#15629758)
          Money is a suprisingly efficient motivator

          Indeed it is.

          Especilally to a user with a ten to fifteen years investment in Windows software and hardware to protect.

          To him migration to Linux has all the appeal of root canal.

      • I disagree, most users are not very bright and as such when their PC stops working they'll do just about anything to make it work... whether it be plunk down 100-300 bucks for a copy of windows or even 300-500 for a new Windows based PC.
        Perhaps if they did not buy the OS to begin with, your point has some value.

        What about the guy who DID buy his copy of Windows, or got it bundled with his machine. If his copy got turned off by mistake, he will be QUITE unhappy to pay again for something that he already owns. In some circles this is called "extortion" if done intentionally. This will breed a LOT of ill will.

        The other thing that totally honked me off is that WPA was supposed to reduce piracy. If it actually worked, Microsoft would lose less to piracy. Shouldn't the consumers get reduced prices to compensate for the inconvenience? After all, Microsoft is now making more money, right? Somehow, I bet that Microsoft will not lower the Vista prices even after WGA turns on fully.

        Personally, I am grabbing some popcorn and am going to enjoy watching the meltdown of Microsoft if this thing happens. If I were suddenly forced to give up Windows, the only thing that I would miss besides games is my accounting package (and no, Gnucash can't replace that until it learns how to handle inventory tracking).
    • by inphinity (681284) on Thursday June 29, 2006 @12:49PM (#15629211) Homepage
      That just screams massive user migration.

      ... to Vista, which is precisely what MS probably wants.

      • That just screams massive user migration.
        ... to Vista, which is precisely what MS probably wants.

        Except that Vista OEM production isn't going to be set until late fall - OEMs are still worried about Christmass sales dates, and off the shelf purchases for people with like-new PCs won't be ready until late January at best. Let's face it, if OEMs arn't shipping Vista by late October, Vista is going to miss xmass this year. That means tax time before there's another major wave of purchasing. And if they impl

    • by mrchaotica (681592) * on Thursday June 29, 2006 @12:52PM (#15629245)
      How could this possibly be a good idea now ? Maybe if it had been there all along, or was introduced in a new release (XP, Vista, whatever)... but why spring it on the unsuspecting masses mid-cycle? That just screams massive user migration.

      First of all, they did have this all along: it's called Windows Product Activation. C'mon, you should have seen this coming from the beginning!

      Second of all, doing it slowly like this actually works out better for Microsoft. If you put a frog in a pot of boiling water, he'll jump out. But if you put him in a pot of cold water and heat it up to boiling, he'll get cooked. Similarly, if you started this with Vista people would simply choose to keep their existing XP, or upgrade to Linux instead. But doing it this way, by stealthily installing it and then turning off the software they already have, you get more of them to "fix" it (by doing whatever they have to do to make it "genuine") because they're already invested.

      • That's a great illustration, but the fact about frogs is, when it gets uncomfortable, they will jump out either way. Frogs allowing themselves to be boiled is an Urban Legend. But the illustration works somewhat. Surely someone who has already started down the MS road would not turn tail and run as fast as someone who has not yet made an operating system choice.
      • It's just a myth. [uga.edu] Even frogs aren't that stupid. OTOH, it's a great metaphor. Anyone have any ideas for a good replacement?
      • Are you frieking kidding me?
        You never cook the whole frog. You usually just cook the legs, cos that's where the good stuff is at.
        On top of which the frog should be dead and the legs sure as hell won't be alive since they're not attached to the frog.
        Also, who boils frogs? that's so extremely common, only the homeless plebs do that. Everybody knows, fried frog legs are the best.
        Pshh.
    • How could this possibly be a good idea now ?
      Because they can.

      What are you going to do about it? Hold your breath until you turn blue?

      No, I'm not trolling -- the reality is that Microsoft has the whip hand and all the sound and fury is coming from people who know that in the end they're going to do as they've been told.

    • Seriously, though, doesn't Microsoft realize that significant number of users aren't going to go out and suddenly buy Windows? Sure, most (half?) will, but the rest will go hunting for a truly free (read: no-cost) alternative until a hack comes out.

      In a contest between you and they, I'd suspect Microsoft is in the better position to understand the nature of the addiction they have created. And I'd feel safe saying that even if you yourself had succeeded in completely breaking your addiction to Windows,

  • How is this legal? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by abionnnn (758579) on Thursday June 29, 2006 @12:44PM (#15629158)
    Is there anything in the EULA that allows them to get away with this?
    • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Thursday June 29, 2006 @12:48PM (#15629192) Homepage Journal
      Is there anything in the EULA that allows them to get away with this?

      Uh, if you didn't pay for it, you're not a party to the EULA - and if you were, you'd already be violating the EULA, which says you have to purchase it; so you'd already be in breach if it were considered a contract - which has not been shown on a broad basis, only in a couple of lower courts.

      The EULA is probably worth more as bumwad than as a contract, and it's printed on paper way too scratchy to be good for that, either.

      • by abionnnn (758579)
        Sorry if I didn't make my point clear. For a legit user, "Microsoft may be turning off copies of Windows without WGA installed."

        According to the summary that's everyone, legit or not. How is that legal? What if I don't want to install it, even if I own a legit copy of windows?
        • by Kichigai Mentat (588759) <ivan.kowalenko @ g m a il.com> on Thursday June 29, 2006 @01:10PM (#15629497) Homepage Journal
          You know, I'd love to know, HOW can Microsoft turn off copies without the WGA installed? Do they have some kind of back door that they had installed ages ago? Built into XP from when we installed it from binaries? That seems odd.
          • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Thursday June 29, 2006 @02:02PM (#15630061) Homepage Journal
            I'm guessing the functionality will be rolled into a critical security patch, if it hasn't already been. That seems like the most likely scenario.
          • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 29, 2006 @02:11PM (#15630152)
            Umm, didn't you see that update Tuesday? I did. It installed itself except for the new EULA. At least the new EULA recinded several onerous bits the old one tricked me into agreeing to by masqerading as a normal security fix and hiding the bad parts deep within a morass of legalese (who knew that a deceptive "security fix" was going to take away so many rights?)

            Anyhow, just FYI, WGA checks for updates and can install them without any user input. That's right--nothing. When I put "arbitrary code execution" in the story I submitted on this, folks laughed, but think about it: any auto-update function from an untrusted source *is* arbitrary code execution! They could send you a freaking "format the PC" program and your system, like a dumbass, would simply run it! Now, I *hope* they won't go that far, but how can we trust them? You can't. I won't play WoW for the same reason (their "warden" program may currently only snoop on a few things, but *nothing* prevents them from modifying that, and it's damned hard to reverse since it's only ever memory resident, etc. so only cheaters were monitoring it...).

            You can say that I'm paranoid or whatever, but it's *my* computer and I sure as hell don't like giving untrustworthy people the ability to silently install software on it. For the same reasons, I will never support DRM. It's all about their ability to control my computer. I won't stand for it. It's mine and they can go screw themselves if they want to pretend otherwise.
    • The EULA is only there for legit users only.

      So the question is. What if it's a false positive?
    • Is there anything in the EULA that allows them to get away with this?

      Sure, lots of crap... not that it matters. The EULA contains plenty of enforceable clauses that conflict with federal and start laws. Eventually someone will probably take them to court and five years later they will win and get a settlement. Of course what that means then will be a whole different ball game, since by then the market will have completely changed. MS may well be providing applications only as online services, and Windows

    • EULA? If you're running a pirated copy, you either didn't agree to the EULA - rendering it > /dev/null or you you agreed to the EULA and violated the terms again.. > /dev/null.

      The only possible snag is if it shuts down some valid copies, but the time between now and then will give ms time to iron out those bugs.

      It may seem crazy to be doing this midcycle, but ms actually thought this one out. Revenue from XP is flatlined, the market is saturated already. How then to increase revenue in the quarters
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 29, 2006 @12:59PM (#15629347)
      EULA be damned. There isn't anything in the world, written or otherwise, that would allow them to get away with this without extremely serious fallout, or they would already have done it, years ago, instead of XP's activation for example.

      Here's some reasons for you.

      Firstly, it would be the best PR they could ever give to every other operating system on the market; Linux, BSD, heck, even ReactOS; and, yes, also Apple. "Hey, our operating system isn't designed to break deliberately." MS have a marketing department. They wouldn't like that.

      Secondly, ever wondered just how much critical infrastructure REALLY runs on unlicensed copies of Windows? MS has a CEO. He'd get angry presidential phonecalls. He wouldn't like that.

      Thirdly, the fact that such a thing existed would represent a single critical point of failure for all internet-connected Windows PCs, a global killswitch. MS do have a security department, as do many other people who use Windows as part of their global businesses, many of which are larger than Microsoft. They wouldn't like that.

      And finally, ever think what #1 and #2 would do to the share price? Assuming the stock markets keep running, that is. Microsoft would stand a very real chance of being put out of business overnight. The board and the shareholders wouldn't like that.

      Oh yeah, one more thing; the pirates would crack it so fast and so hard, and the crack would be such big news, it wouldn't have nearly as significant an effect on the number of unlicensed Windows boxes as you think (though it would mean that no-one, anywhere, would ever trust Microsoft again for anything).

      Microsoft are't always the brightest bulb in the box, but they aren't literally suicidal.
      • by shotfeel (235240) on Thursday June 29, 2006 @02:47PM (#15630561)
        Don't forget, an internet connection suddenly becomes a requirement for using the OS.

        And the flip-side --every computer connected to the net will have to "talk" to MS on occasion or get shut down.

        How does that sound for individual/company/military/government computers that need to be secure?

        The US government is worried about the security risk of Lenovo computers. Wonder what they, and other governments, think about this?
  • TOLD YOU SO! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mrchaotica (681592) * on Thursday June 29, 2006 @12:45PM (#15629164)

    You know, I've been ranting on Slashdot and elsewhere about the dangers of XP's "product activation" and Treacherous Computing and such for years now, but few people wanted to listen. Well, one of the scenarios I predicted is coming true! Now just wait for the screws to tighten even further...

    I jumped ship to Linux when XP came out. It's not too late for you to join me!

    • Re:TOLD YOU SO! (Score:5, Informative)

      by Kremit (632241) <kremit@[ ]n.net ['wrp' in gap]> on Thursday June 29, 2006 @12:52PM (#15629256) Homepage
      I was in the same boat as you. I switched to Linux (on my main desktop at least -- my servers have always ran some form of *NIX) on October 25, 2001, the same day Windows XP was released.

      Now this, this is absolutely rediculous. This is going to have huge repercussions; I happened to click over to the "Genuine Windows Forum" and saw all kinds of posts there of NEW Dell desktops, valid CDs, and other licensed systems having problems with WGA. When these systems stop working, people are going to flip. To them, this will be akin to the computer crashing and taking their data along with it.
    • Re:TOLD YOU SO! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Deliverator80 (880151)
      I would jump over to Linux if I could run my games on it efficiently and with reliability. As it is, Cedega/Wine/WineX and whatnot, just don't support enough games and are not reliable enough to get me to switch entirely over.

      I have a Linux box, and I love the new Fedora Core 5. But it's too much of a pain to run some games to make it worth my time.

      Let me know when developers start making games designed to run on Linux, and I'll buy em and switch completely. Until then, no matter how much I hate it, M$ i
  • And? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by hsmith (818216) on Thursday June 29, 2006 @12:46PM (#15629174)
    It is their product, if you didn't pay for it I don't see how you can complain that they aren't going to support you or allow you to continue using it. If you want software to be free that much, use Linux and stop complaining.
    • Re:And? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by riptide_dot (759229) * on Thursday June 29, 2006 @12:52PM (#15629253)
      It is their product, if you didn't pay for it I don't see how you can complain that they aren't going to support you or allow you to continue using it. If you want software to be free that much, use Linux and stop complaining. What if I did pay for it and I don't want the WGA software installed? I'm not allowed to use the sofware I PAID FOR because I don't want to add on to it? That's like selling me a car and telling me that if I refuse to put a spoiler on the back that I won't be allowed to drive it.
    • Re:And? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by soren42 (700305) * <(j) (at) (son-kay.com)> on Thursday June 29, 2006 @12:54PM (#15629280) Homepage Journal
      It is their product, if you didn't pay for it I don't see how you can complain that they aren't going to support you or allow you to continue using it. If you want software to be free that much, use Linux and stop complaining.

      First, you're completely correct, and I completely agree. But, the conundrum here is that one of Microsoft's biggest assets is their market penetration. Legal or not, a PC running Windows *tends* to be a PC not running Linux. If you suddenly force all the non-legal users off your platform, you're forcing the to use something else. Which means, in turn, more demand for OpenOffice, games on Linux, GAIM, ad infinitium - until there is a more, better, complete Linux end-user software stack to seriously compete with Windows.

      This WGA might (and I stress might) look good on paper to the beancounters at Microsoft, but if you're an architect, visionary, or strategist there, you've got to scream to every senior leader to can get on the phone about what a phenomenally stupid idea this... and what it's potential impact on marketshare will be.
    • Re:And? (Score:3, Insightful)

      Taking it upon yourself to destroy someone else's property (and that IS what a copy of windows is, regardless of MS's viewpoint) because you believe they have committed a crime is against the law.

      We have charges, indictments, and trials to decide these matters.
    • by alricsca (442535) on Thursday June 29, 2006 @01:03PM (#15629395)
      Some of us are forced to use MS Windows because our jobs demand we use products like Visual Studio which only runs on it.

      First off I did pay. Second I do not like having to have it call home and it giving them any personal information including my IP and prod ID to activate which seems to happen every time a tech savy person does anything significant to their computers. Third, I do not like having them infect my computer with endlessly growing DRM shit to support all this. Forth once you grant them this right you give them the power to do so much more than they are currently claiming they are going to do. Imagine forced DRM installation, expiring software leases, and complete user tracking from purchase to forced obsolescence. Fifth, we are the customer, it is their job to meet our demands, not make us their slaves.
    • Re:And? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mrchaotica (681592) * on Thursday June 29, 2006 @01:03PM (#15629398)

      You don't get it. If Microsoft has the ability to remotely disable Windows, they could do it to anyone. Today it's copyright infringers; tomorrow it could be people who run P2P apps or who use iTunes or who aren't white or any other thing. Or, for that matter, some malicious employee or outside hacker could do it. There are any number of scenarios where your computer could get disabled whether your copy is actually legitimate or not.

      Apparantly you're a sheep, but I care enough about my own property that giving somebody the ability to cut off my access to it is Not Acceptable. I don't care that it doesn't affect me because I use Linux; it's still a moral outrage!

  • by tesseract5d (871694) on Thursday June 29, 2006 @12:47PM (#15629183)
    Where is the genuine advantage? Can I at least get a regular advantage? Something? A bone perhaps? Why not just call it what it is: Microsoft Windows Spyware/Destruction/Shutdown/TheShaft(c) Tool?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 29, 2006 @12:47PM (#15629186)
    Microsoft Windows, now comes with preinstalled rootkit for your optimal experience.
  • by gasmonso (929871) on Thursday June 29, 2006 @12:48PM (#15629199) Homepage

    Lemme guess, MS is all pissed off because Vista won't ship anytime soon and they aren't making cash on it. So now they have to increase revenue by making people buy XP who may not have legit copies? I sure hope some 16 year-old hacker takes care of this problem for good.

    http://religiousfreaks.com/ [religiousfreaks.com]
  • by jkrise (535370) on Thursday June 29, 2006 @12:49PM (#15629208) Journal
    From Windows XP to Windows 98-SE.....

    BTW, I've got a Home PC running my office's license of XP. I get some crazy messages at home from the WGA.... strangely the office PCs hardly grumble.

    No wonder Gates is leaving the party...
  • Microsoft may have shot themselves in the foot with this latest crackdown on pirated windows copies:

    Firstly, I would be surprised if the real pirates didn't have a crack for this less than a week after WGA is made compulsory.Secondly, the fact that people HAVE to pay for a windows version rather than just sticking on an illegal version will cause these people to migrate more and more to free OS's like linux.

    People don't use windows because it is a "good" OS, they use it because everybody else does and programs are written for it. Lessen the number of people using windows, and you lessen the reason for companies/people to code specifically for it, hence you lessen the reason for using it.

  • Not Likely (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mpapet (761907) on Thursday June 29, 2006 @12:53PM (#15629266) Homepage
    A couple of scenarios I typically see:

    User #1: Has auto update on and is a member in good standing anyway. No problems

    User #2: Has auto update off and is a member in good standing. No problems because they haven't updated their computer since they bought it.

    User #3: Running cracked copy and will have a way around this doomsday scenario pretty soon.

    Your user #3 is a minority in the U.S. Microsoft and every successful software company -knows- the key to making popular software is to make it easy enough to crack. So I don't see the Microsoft playing "license enforcer" anywhere except maybe the U.S.

    Sensational summary though.
    • Re:Not Likely (Score:5, Insightful)

      by sconeu (64226) on Thursday June 29, 2006 @01:16PM (#15629552) Homepage Journal
      User 4: Legit user who does not want the nasty WGA. Goes to WindowsUpdate for the latest security fixes, and is disabled.
    • Re:Not Likely (Score:4, Insightful)

      by lxs (131946) on Thursday June 29, 2006 @01:18PM (#15629578)
      The way these things usually work out is that plenty of "User #1"s will be shut off accidentally.
  • Great! (Score:3, Informative)

    by Jestrzcap (46989) on Thursday June 29, 2006 @12:55PM (#15629300)
    Honestly, I hope this happens (I will be investing in a transgaming [transgaming.com] account again, but eh). It will help curb my gaming habit. I hope it does the same thing for a lot of other people (if I dont see some more support for Linux and Mac in the gaming world then game developers are going to stop making money off of me)
  • No way. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by willith (218835) * on Thursday June 29, 2006 @12:56PM (#15629303) Homepage
    If this is all true, I'll eat my hat.

    The thing to look it is how this might affect legitimate corporate versions of XP--and by that, I mean VLK versions actually being used in an enterprise setting.

    The company for which I work has more than 100,000 copies of XP running in offices on six continents, participating in one of the largest Active Directory installations in the world. Every system's load is tightly controlled and managed, and I can tell you that there are no copies of WGA anywhere on any of those desktops (I've seen the SMS reports). Nor will there ever be.

    People say to "vote with your dollars", but your dollars, and my dollars, don't matter. Large corporate dollars matter--like the kind of dollars that can outfit a company's world-wide IT needs. WGA has no place on a configuration-controlled and managed enterprise desktop, and MS would never risk upsetting their real customers--corporate Windows & Office sales--to emplace something like this.
  • by flynt (248848) on Thursday June 29, 2006 @12:56PM (#15629308)
    Before you get too excited, this is a slashdot link to a zdnet story that links to a blog called Interesting People that posted an email from an end user named David Pollack who got this information from a guy at an 800 number at Windows support. I'll wait until I learn more before making a judgement.
  • by arakon (97351) on Thursday June 29, 2006 @12:56PM (#15629309) Homepage
    It will just give balmer your address and at christmas he'll come down your chimney and throw chairs at you. Chairs with spikes on them and laser beams.
  • by jnaujok (804613) on Thursday June 29, 2006 @12:57PM (#15629317) Homepage Journal
    What about my two perfectly legitimately licensed machines at home that fail the "Windows Genuine Advantage" test every time they update WGA? Considering that one of them is my copy of Advanced Server 2003, I won't be exactly happy when it gets killed this fall. (Hey, I just use it for the mail server program because I can't stand sendmail.)

    And I'm just a little bitty guy with one server running. What happens when this hits some company's server farm and they all shut down? How much liability is MicroSoft going to have when that happens?

    And every time they "fix" my copy after the new WGA comes out, I have to make manual registry changes. Can you imagine having to do that on a 500 machine server farm?

    Great idea MicroSoft, if your product actually worked.
  • by ewhac (5844) on Thursday June 29, 2006 @01:06PM (#15629430) Homepage Journal
    I thought this was what Windows Activation was supposed to do -- validate the copy of Windows as genuine, and then we're done, we don't have to deal with those jerks any more.

    Now they seem to be telling us, "Oh, no, Activation never really worked. We need to continuously validate the system."

    No. You don't. And you won't.

    I just built a brand new machine, primarily for gaming. Oblivion has been fairly sweet. But it looks like I won't be playing those games anymore -- not unless the entire game industry decides to support Linux.

    This is morally and ethically reprehensible, and Microsoft knows it, and apparently doesn't care. Well, I do care. I do not, and shall not, grant consent to Microsoft to remotely snoop on my machine, regardless of their ostensible reasons. If my copy of Windows stops functioning as a result, I will take that as a maliciously incorporated product defect, and respond accordingly.

    Schwab

  • BS meter pegged (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Alioth (221270) <no@spam> on Thursday June 29, 2006 @01:09PM (#15629482) Journal
    I'm sorry, but my bullshit meter is pegged on this story. While Microsoft may be evil, they aren't that stupid, and the story is completely unsubstantiated - TFA is a blog that is linking to another unsubstantiated blog that alleges that some first line OneCare peon told him this.

    It wouldn't be surprising if the whole thing was a hoax. At best it's some OneCare peon trying to socially engineer a customer into installing WGA.
  • What is "WGA"? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by poot_rootbeer (188613) on Thursday June 29, 2006 @01:10PM (#15629485)

    Please, Slashdot submitters and admins, PLEASE -- give us the courtesy of defining uncommon acronyms the first time they are used. It is not good editorial practice to force the reader to look up unfamiliar terms on their own in order to understand the content.

    You can argue that most Slashdotters should know what WGA stands for already -- but should we? This is one of the more Linux-centric sites on the internet. It's far from a given that we would all be familiar with a Windows-based authentication system, even among those of us that are Windows users.

    You can argue that it only takes 5 seconds to slap the acronym into Google and find out what it means -- but that doesn't change the fact that the effort would be better made by the one than by the many. Ten thousand Slashdotters Googling the answer is a net loss of 13+ hours of time that could be better spent on other things.
    • by 0xABADC0DA (867955) on Thursday June 29, 2006 @02:05PM (#15630087)
      Right on... I figured out that OMG stands for 'oh my god' but I can't figure out what PONIES stands for. All these damned acronyms, wtf?!
  • Finally! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by WhiteWolf666 (145211) <{su.narima} {ta} {niwrehs}> on Thursday June 29, 2006 @01:27PM (#15629686) Homepage Journal
    A solution to the Linux pricing problem.

    What's that? The Linux pricing problem?

    Cost of Linux = Cost of Pirated Windows. As such, many, many, many, many home users continue to use Windows.

    Bring up the cost of Windows?

    Cost of Linux 35 percent of PC software is pirated. I'm guessing that Windows XP is highly represented in that group (of pirated software; i.e. at least 30% of worldwide Windows installs are not legal). If even 10% of that user base decides to switch to Linux rather than pay the Windows tax, it'll be a substantial marketshare boost.

    And the remaining 90%? They might decide that the MSRP cost of Windows is too close to the MSRP of a brand new dual core Mac.

    I'm thrilled. MS has ridden on piracy marketshare for far too long. I hope they do every thing they possibly can to stamp out software piracy, and I hope they succeed.

    Opensource Zealots, take heart; Our strongest licenses are copyright based. Should we wish to see the GPL upheld, we should support upholding MS's copyrights. The beauty of the OpenSource ecosystem is far easier to explain to people when they can't get pirated software free or for a minimal $1. Although Free is about Freedom, not Beer, it's much easier to explain that to the layman when it is Free, as in Freedom AND Beer.
  • ...to be deployed in 3...2...1...
  • by ocbwilg (259828) on Thursday June 29, 2006 @02:01PM (#15630054)
    Let's not get stupid here. A "front-line tech-support drone" who gets paid $12 an hour to read the support script is somehow going to know what sort of top-secret plans Microsoft has for the next six months? I highly doubt it. It sounds more like the sort of thing that a helpdesk drone would say to try to persuade a clueless computer user to do things their way.

    Then, of course, there's the fact that if you install WGA today on a pirated copy of Windows, all you get is the notification message that pops up. You don't get shut down, and you don't even get cut off from Windows security updates (which are truly the only updates that matter, and even they aren't that good). I find it very difficult to believe that Microsoft is going to go from "Hey, your copy of Windows doesn't look genuine, but you can still install our security updates" to "I don't know if your system is pirated or not because you haven't installed WGA, but even if it is a legitimate copy I'm just going to shut you down simply because I have no way of verifying it." Especially not in the span of 6 months.

    Let's think about this for just a second. If this shutdown is a function of WGA, and you don't install WGA, then how are they going to a) know that you don't have WGA and b) shut down your PC? Assuming that you only install security updates to your copy of Windows (legitimiate or pirated), then it seems that the only way they can get this "remote killswitch" functionality is to hide it in a security update. You know, kinda like a Trojan horse. Which would of course be unethical at the very least, and most likely illegal. Especially if they killswitched a legally licensed copy of Windows who just didn't have WGA installed.

    But hey, it's Microsoft. So let the FUDslinging begin.
  • by greyfeld (521548) on Thursday June 29, 2006 @02:16PM (#15630212) Journal
    With the one of the recent updates in Everquest, Sony updated the EQ code to take advantage of DirectX 9.0c. Well that was fine, because most gamers already have this on their machines as I did. Problem was that it required the April DirectX build at a minimum. Guess what, if you haven't registered your copy of Windows, you can no longer download DirectX without Microsoft checking your copy to see if it is legitimate. Don't believe me, go check for yourself [microsoft.com].

    So if you were playing EQ on a pirated copy of Windows, you just went into Evercrack withdrawal because EQ wouldn't load at all. That's a quick way to boost their sales. Most hardcore EQ players would sell their first born to keep playing. This is extremely annoying to say the least. I wonder what it will do to game companies that bundle the latest DirectX with their games to make sure you can play it on install. I can hear the tech support phones ringing now!

  • by nurb432 (527695) on Thursday June 29, 2006 @03:55PM (#15631417) Homepage Journal
    No, you might as well buy a Mac ( or install bsd, linux, etc etc )

    Anyone who didnt see this coming is either a fool or a moron.

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