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A Different Kind of WGA 'Problem' 348

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the foolproof-just-found-a-better-fool dept.
Ed Bott recently attempted to scout out the problems reported in so many horror stories floating around the net relating to Microsoft's WGA. He did experience problems, however, not the ones that you might expect. He intentionally installed a pirated copy of Windows XP to see how the process worked but was unable to get WGA to recognize his computer as pirated. From the article: "I'm reluctantly running a pirated version of Windows and can't get caught no matter how hard I try. But these same people want us to believe that the WGA software they've developed is nearly foolproof. They claim that all but "a fraction of a percent" of those 60 million people who've been denied access to Microsoft updates and downloads are guilty, guilty, guilty. Right."
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A Different Kind of WGA 'Problem'

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  • by TheOtherChimeraTwin (697085) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @06:50PM (#15877217)

    I'm reluctantly running a pirated version of Windows and can't get caught no matter how hard I try.

    Here you go! [bsa.org]

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Do those guys go after GPL violators as well? I'm pretty sure I know of a case where a company's not following the GPL, and would love to get these guys involved. Or are they hypocrites who don't go after their members when they break copyright laws themselves?
      • by SpaceLifeForm (228190) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @07:54PM (#15877561)
        You want this [gpl-violations.org].

        BSA is for proprietary violations.

      • by Chabil Ha' (875116) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @07:56PM (#15877568)
        You see, the BSA doesn't have a financial interest to go after GPL violators because there's a lack of monetary incentive. If any of the GPL software was owned by a multi-billion dollar company shelling out the big bucks to enforce the infringement of their IP, sure the BSA would be right after them.
        • by CastrTroy (595695) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @09:01PM (#15877854) Homepage
          Maybe IBM can push some dollars their way for them to go after GPL violators.
          • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 10, 2006 @08:35AM (#15879608)
            BSA are con artists: they con the software companies to pay them to protect their rights (and they don't do it). I received letters from BSA for about 6 months in 2003: one letter every two weeks, asking me to buy legal copies of the pirated software they supposed I used and they were supposed to "protect", threatening with "2 to 5 years in jail" and warning me they might come any time to inspect my software setup.

            Fortunately for me:
            * I did not use at that time and I do not use now unlicenced software, nor did the company I worked for at that time use unlicenced software.
            * The law in my country would not put me in jail for using unlicenced software (only a fine).
            * BSA do not have the right to make inspections in my country. They can log a complaint and have the police come to me.

            Still, I was responsible for IT, and had to receive the letters, read them and explain to my betters what were those letters about every two weeks. I did not enjoy being threatened to be put in jail, being acused of stealing, and being taken for a full. The letters stopped arriving when I answered one of them, asked BSA to explain me why they think they have the right to do what they threatened to do, and had the word "lawyers" in that reply.

            Why are they con artists ? I was in their database because my company already bought the software they claimed to "protect". BSA are lazy, at least around here: they don't look for infringers, they just pound honest people with threats in order to have something to report to their sponsors. BSA does not look for the interests of their sponsors, only for the money they pour into BSA for those "awareness campaings" etc.

            Unfortunately for their sponsors,
                  after my experience with BSA:
            * I don't buy or recomend to the people in charge to buy software from the companies members of BSA. There is always a good enough alternative, and running the risk of getting in the spotlight of BSA is not worth the trouble.
            * I still think it's lame to use "pirated" software, but I am kinda glad so many people do it, as far as the sponsors of BSA are concerned.
            * I run a clean shop, free as in free speech.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @06:51PM (#15877221)
    No, I just want to confirm the article. Really.
  • Corporate (Score:4, Informative)

    by crabpeople (720852) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @06:53PM (#15877232) Journal
    Its simple. Hes using the corporate VLK. Microsoft would _never_ damage its corporate customers by subjecting them to WGA. I thought it was well known that corporate versions of things (windows, symantec) are vastly superior and thusly are the most heavily pirated. Always go for a pirated corp copy over a real one. Those leet software pirates know how to do the job right, the first time.

    • Re:Corporate (Score:5, Informative)

      by hawkbug (94280) <psx@noSpAm.fimble.com> on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @06:57PM (#15877263) Homepage
      You're wrong I think, I've seen VLK's get flagged as pirated. However, they were :) When a legit key was put in place, the warning goes away.
    • Re:Corporate (Score:4, Informative)

      by dtfinch (661405) * on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @07:01PM (#15877277) Journal
      The majority of the users WGA identifies as pirate are using corporate volume license keys.
      • by Sycraft-fu (314770) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @07:30PM (#15877434)
        Is he might be using a legit corperate key. We have a VLK here (university) and you can just install XP on any system no problem, and it'll report as legit. They don't check vs number of license to make sure it's an exact count. So you could install it unlicensed on a personal laptop, and it'd report as legit no problems. Now however if they found tons of systems outside of the university cropping up, and saw the key on a serials board, they might invalidate it and issue us a new one.

        However just installing a copy of corperate unlicensed won't do anything. It doesn't activate and there's not a hard limit check.

        To really test WGA you need to do something like get a known pirate key or take a non-volume copy of XP and install it on more systems than you are allowed to.
        • "Now however if they found tons of systems outside of the university cropping up, and saw the key on a serials board, they might invalidate it and issue us a new one."

          Or, they might just invalidate it and leave it to the folks in your IT organization to explain why they need to buy retail licenses from now on...
          • Well that would violate the contract so no, probably not. It actually turns out that MS doesn't like to piss off their customers in general. It's the people that aren't paying they are mad at. It's not even really the inidivduals as much as the resellers that claim to be selling legit Windows, and charge for it, but don't.
        • by Manitcor (218753) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @10:51PM (#15878209) Homepage
          RTFA, he used a key from a serials site that was marked as 2 years old. MS is apparently not keeping up with its pirateed key list
        • by SharpFang (651121) on Thursday August 10, 2006 @05:31AM (#15879172) Homepage Journal
          >To really test WGA you need to do something like get a known
          >pirate key or take a non-volume copy of XP and install it on more
          >systems than you are allowed to.

          Nope. That's what you need to trigger it.
          To test it, you take most obscure cases of license violation plus most convoluted cases of legal use.
          And then as result the test shows WGA is hopelessly broken.
    • Re:Corporate (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Abreu (173023)
      I know for a fact that all the windows machines at my job are installed with the same keys for its software (due to laziness from our IT dept, all the licenses are there --locked in a closet somewhere).
      All our computers are patched regularly and automatically, without a problem.
    • Re:Corporate (Score:5, Interesting)

      by calebb (685461) <slashdot@be n e f iel.net> on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @07:08PM (#15877318) Homepage Journal
      Try using the infamous pre-SP1 vlk that starts with FCKGW http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FCKGW [wikipedia.org]
    • Re:Corporate (Score:5, Interesting)

      by poliopteragriseoapte (973295) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @07:13PM (#15877347)
      What is a "corporate version"?

      I work for a university, and I have a Windows XP laptop (university property) installed using our school of engineering key (we have a site-wide license). Is that a "corporate" version? Anyway, I had not booted that laptop in Windows in a LONG while, since I had been mostly using it with another hard drive with SuSE linux installed.

      Recently, I booted it, and gave my ok to its doing 18 Windows Updates (techstaff won't support my laptop unless I do the updates). After doing the updates (from my home, I am not sure if this is relevant), Windows now claims that the copy is pirated.

      Since it is certainly not pirated, I decided to simply not bother with it. The fun part is that in some couple of weeks, I am going to give a talk at Microsoft with that laptop... and no, I don't plan to fix it before then!

      • Re:Corporate (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Jtoxification (678057)
        Oh, please make sure to incorporate that into your speech :-D

        A friend of mine is actually afraid to update his new xp 64 software for that reason, and it's a shame too. That's a fast computer and he stays on xp 32 since until he gets all the drivers and fixes for xp 64 (he's manually loaded as many as he can), it's going to be fast as molasses.
      • Re:Corporate (Score:3, Informative)

        by Fordiman (689627)
        Well, yes and no.

        Universities do (generally) use XP Professional, and (generally) they do use VLKs to handle installs/updates. Unfortunately, since they often pass these out to students, they're often the first to be pirated. Which means they're often the first to be blacklisted with this WGA shite.

        Fortunately, for compters wired to the University intranet (that don't have remote management shut off), the University IT staff will dynamically update the VLK if theirs becomes blacklisted (Microsoft will not
  • by Twillerror (536681) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @06:54PM (#15877242) Homepage Journal
    When things like this come out; things like key checking for a game install and everything else that is designed to stop piracy I often wonder who wrote it?

    Are the best and brightest out there the ones that get stuck with this task? I would think it'd be the interns and that developers everyone hates that get the fun task.

    I've used products that had good licensing tools. Keys that you enabled online, and enabled a number of users etc. Everytime it seems like it comes out of some smaller software company with small bright teams. I'm guessing in these cases the senior level codes and maybe even the whole team got involved.

    Anyone out there have expierence writing key checkers and other piracy related pieces of functionality?
    • by DigitAl56K (805623) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @07:56PM (#15877569)
      "I've used products that had good licensing tools. Keys that you enabled online, and enabled a number of users etc."

      I _hate_ crap like that. I use DriveCrypt for encryption (from securstar.de), and it has the most horrific license system I've ever had the displeasure to use. You have to activate your software and lock it to a computer, then if you want to use it on an alternative computer you have to uninstall it on the first, then enter a "deactivation" code on the website, then finally you can reactivate on the new PC. God forbid you should format one of your computers forgetting to deactive your license first. I even had a problem where a new version of the software wouldn't accept the current activation on the system. I had to uninstall the newer version, re-install the older version, uninstall it and de-activate, then install the new one again and activate it. At that point I was like "JFK!", and no, that's not a reference to Kennedy.

      Lets face it: People hate activation, and for a good reason. It doesn't stop piracy. It doesn't really reduce piracy either. All it does it cause perpetual headaches to your legally licensed customers. I work on software products and was partly responsible for redesigning our software registration system, which used to also use online activation. We stripped out the 'activation' element and sales didn't drop at all, however the volume of support traffic that we had to handle due to activation issues (the largest type of support incident by far) dropped to almost nothing. Our customers were much happier people.

      Secrets to succesful system: 1) Make a good product, 2) Don't extort your customers, 3) Make the registration process simple.

      An example of a good registration system: I recently bought Sonar 5 from Cakewalk. It came with a serial code in the DVD sleave, which you punch into Cakewalks' website in exchange for a registration code that can be used perpetually. That's it. Simple. Cakewalk get their registration info, you get to use the software you just paid hundreds of dollars for as you want. Sure, there is an element of trust involved in that, but hey, you just paid a few hundred bucks. Maybe they ought to trust you after that. By comaprison, other similar software I have licenses for is heinous. Cakewalk earned a lot of respect from me because of this.

      Pirates will pirate. People with morals who wish to support your work will pay where they can. Respect your customers.
      • Uh.. ok 'JFK' should be 'JFC'. I was so mad about the whole thing it made me incoherent.
      • by glowworm (880177) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @09:15PM (#15877894) Journal
        I _hate_ crap like that. I use DriveCrypt for encryption (from securstar.de), and it has the most horrific license system I've ever had the displeasure to use.
        That is why you should support Open Source where possible. Rather than continue with DriveCrypt change to TrueCrypt [truecrypt.org] which can do everything DriveCrypt does PLUS... use a file, say a .gif, as a key, containers compatible between Windows and Linux and also the encrypted containers don't contain DriveCrypt's giveaway signature bytes at the start of the file.

        The only way to stop the re-emergence of copy protection schemes (as were the craze in the mid 1980's with things like pro-lock) is to stop buying their products, instead relying on open source whereever the task at hand allows. DriveCrypt is one of things that you can easily get rid of. WGA is a little harder, but it's day will come.
        • I agree. our IT guy was giving a security talk a while back and saying that they were going to get PGP desktop or some other "mount an encrypted volume" software and I pointed him to trueCrypt. I put this on our laptop to have our Quicken stuff on, in case it got stolen. It's simple enough for my wife to use, and comes with a large variety of encryption key options. Very nice and simple to use. It even has support for complex things like a secret encrypted volume inside the encrypted volume so you can put s
    • by Obyron (615547)
      This isn't quite a response to your question, but the responses made me think about it. I run a shop that specializes in creating signs, doing engraving, and other graphically artistic tasks. Before I started this place I used to boggle at how people could pay 3 or 400 dollars for Windows, or 600 dollars for a copy of Photoshop, or (perish the thought!) $1000 for Final Cut Pro. But, That Was Before (TM).

      Some of the software I now use to run equipment in the shop costs over four thousand dollars, and, whi
  • by spykemail (983593) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @06:56PM (#15877253) Homepage
    because none of Microsoft's software products have any flaws...
  • by dcapel (913969) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @06:57PM (#15877257) Homepage
    It seems I can't get Canonical's apt program to recognize I'm running a pirated version of ubuntu. It should be obvious, since I even got it as an iso file on the internet for free...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @06:57PM (#15877259)
    I know a number of people who 'borrowed' a Windows Support Key from their employeers, and applied the key to their pirated version of Windows. None of them have had a problem with the Windows Validator tool.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @06:57PM (#15877261)
    a copy from a store (you can't return software), MS then says it's pirated, and I'm fucked out of hundreds of bucks.

    How do ypu prove that you're not a pirate if MS says you are?

  • To beter help troubleshoot the issue I ask that you please send me an .iso and key. I would like to attempt to help re-create the problem to further assist you troubleshoot.

    Thanks,

  • by Jerk City Troll (661616) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @07:04PM (#15877293) Homepage
    It's far more of a problem for casual, non-technical pirates than the handful of legitimate customers who have been misidentified.

    I personally know of at least half a dozen people who have subsequently either a) purchased a legitimate copy of Windows, b) downgraded back to their older, legitimate version or c) bought a Mac, because they lack the technical knowledge to keep up with the WGA arms race.

    WGA is certainly going to reduce the level of Windows piracy. Unfortunately for Microsoft, it's going to do so because some people will move away from Windows altogether.

    Simple fact is that WGA is utterly transparent and utterly irrelevant to most legitimate users, and even those it isn't, it isn't an issue for very long.
    • by Kelson (129150) * on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @07:48PM (#15877522) Homepage Journal
      Simple fact is that WGA is utterly transparent and utterly irrelevant to most legitimate users, and even those it isn't, it isn't an issue for very long.

      I can't speak for "most legitimate users," but I can describe my own brief run-in with a WGA malfunction.

      A few weeks ago, when the updated version of WGA was pushed out, my Dell-with-the-original-OS booted with a notice claiming that Windows was not genuine (despite the previous version of WGA reporting no problems). I grumbled about Microsoft's lying sack of *ahem* I mean, POS anti-piracy crap that couldn't tell a real copy of Windows from a fake one, then logged in, fired up a web browser, went to the Knowledge base, mucked around until I found a link that said something like, "Validate here"... and it said, "Oh, yeah, you're genuine. No problem, pal." (Actually, it's a Dell, so that would be "No problem, Dude.")

      I spouted some variation of "WTF?" Then I rebooted the machine, just to check, and sure enough it said absolutely nothing about being a pirated copy of Windows.

      I eventually concluded that Norton In(ternet)Security had probably blocked the initial validation attempt. With no desktop shell, I didn't have the chance to say "yes, let the damn packet through."

      The whole process took maybe 10 minutes, but it was an annoying 10 minutes. I've had my share of frustrations with Linux,* but it's never told me I was ripping off RedSuMandrivuntu.

      *My main PC is a Fedora Core box. My wife's main PC is a Mac. We share this Windows box, mainly for gaming.

  • by Itninja (937614) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @07:06PM (#15877304) Homepage
    ...except I am running Linux. No matter how hard I try, I can't get those dweebs at Linux Corp. to understand that I never paid for this copy. I keep calling them and asking for a invoice or bill or something. But I guess they don't have a record of my purchase. Go figure. Just lucky I suppose.
  • by hguorbray (967940) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @07:12PM (#15877339)
    I have 2 OEM copies of windows that I bought from Fry's years ago.

    Unfortunately -and predictably, in the course of 2 moves I have lost my activation key #s -I didn't glue them to my machines as recommended because I planned on moving the license to another, newer machine eventually.

    Now I can't even finish the install without having to find some cracked key from some warez site. Then it won't let me install any security patches or Service Packs.

    After the 30 days or whatever is up and I have to activate I then try the warezed key and am told that this key has been used too many times -Duh! a

    and then I have to call MS support and get a new activation key from them. Fortunately they haven't given me too much grif, but its still a hassle.

    Thanks to old flakey hard drives I have had to do this twice and now it has died a third time.

    This time I said screw it and went to fry's and bought a new HP dual core media center PC for $750. so I guess MS won this round.....

    But I will be trying this again since I have several more machines sitting around -I guess I'd better write down the key# the next time they give me one over the phone again. Does anyone know if the activation #s they give over the phone are 1-time codes or if they will work multiple times?

    Has anyone had any luck just asking them for new activation codes?

    -What's the speed of Dark?
    • This time I said screw it and went to fry's and bought a new HP dual core media center PC for $750.
      That'll teach 'em! Nothing tells a company they can't get away with treating their customers like shit, than to .. um .. keep buying their products as though you were a very happy customer and everything is ok.
    • by b0s0z0ku (752509) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @10:31PM (#15878140)
      But I will be trying this again since I have several more machines sitting around -I guess I'd better write down the key# the next time they give me one over the phone again. Does anyone know if the activation #s they give over the phone are 1-time codes or if they will work multiple times?

      Once you have a working machine - activated and all - go to C:\windows\system32 and copy the files wpa.dbl and wpa.bak to secure off-computer location(s) like a USB key or even a floppy. When you need to reinstall XP due to HDD death or whatever, reinstall as normal with the key you used on the previous install (if you don't know the key, download Magical Jelly Bean Keyfinder, run it, and write down the key). After you install, boot into Safe Mode (hold down F8 at boot and select from the menu). Copy the old wpa... files back into your C:\windows\system32 directory.

      -b.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Not too long after WGA came out I tried using System Restore to revert to a back up from about a week earlier to see if it would solve some issues I was having. After reverting to the backup, WGA was sure I had a pirated copy, but if I then reverted to the state it was in before using system restore, it didn't have problems at all. I haven't checked since then to see if maybe it was just because the backup was from before installing WGA, but it's sort of annoying that they would make one of their more us
  • Or does it even need activation? having to call MS with your personal information to continue running xp after 60 or so days could be the end of his freedom.
  • by Borgschulze (842056) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @07:16PM (#15877366) Homepage
    Microsoft.Windows.XP.Professional.Corporate.SP2.In tegrated.July.2006.MULTI.IMAGE.REPACK-ETH0 That has all the latest updates... and has a WGA crack in it... no wonder he can't get it to recognize it's pirated.
  • by Orion Blastar (457579) <orionblastar@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @07:24PM (#15877406) Homepage Journal
    Obviously the P2P Pirate edition of XP uses the VLK and has modified the legitcontrol.dll, wgatray.exe, and wga*.dll files to not report a WGA violation.

    Want to really test the WGA? Use your original copy of Windows XP and search the Internet for a known CD-Key and install with that key that millions of other people have used. Then watch as the retail or OEM version of Windows with unpatched WGA files reports you as a pirate.

    Ninja Pirate Hackers and Crackers have modified the WGA files with something called MSIL that is like assembly language. For example if a valid key is found, you might have a comparision done and a JNE to 2000:1345 which calls the part of the code that turns on the "Your copy of Windows is not legit" function. Turn that JNE 2000:1345 into a NOP and the comparison does not match and the program does not jump into the Anti-Pirate code. Or change it to a JE 2000:1345 and if a valid key is found it jumps to the Anti-Pirate code and if an invalid key it does not. Or just take the code at 2000:1345 that turns on the Pirated bit and fill it with NOPs. I am just guessing here, I could be wrong, but I think the pirated version of Windows and those WGA-Fix patches do those sort of things.

    Meanwhile my legit copy of Windows XP has to have the WGA spyware on it to get updates from Microsoft. Yeah Windows Update and Microsoft Update require that I install WGA in order to use them. If not, no updates from the web. WGA trashed my fast user switching after it got installed. I can see the WGA files eating my system memory, CPU cycles, and using up bandwidth to report back to Microsoft, yes folks it is spyware. I would guess the pirate version of the WGA Fixed files remove the spyware as well.

    Not only that I heard that the pirate version of XP has special tweaks and bug fixes that the retail and OEM versions do not have. Yet your chances of malware infections are greater with the pirate version, because you never know who last modified it before you got a copy. So beware.
    • try this go to autopatcher.com and download a full set (you may have to download an older full set and then the upgrade sets to get to august)
    • JNE/JE thing is exactly what I did with some BBS software I bought when the key didn't work (back in the 286 days).

      However, there were multiple places that needed it, my first attempt turned off the invalid key error message; but didn't actually enable the software.

      I'd expect small checks to be added in multiple places.
    • So how long until we see, in the wild, a virus/worm/whatever with a birthday payload that makes WGA think the compromised machine is pirate.

      Or one that makes WGA think it's legit.

      Either could cause all sorts of havoc.

      I wonder if it's already happened?

      (Wouldn't it be interesting if it had happened to the author of TFA? B-) )
  • by lophophore (4087) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @07:24PM (#15877407) Homepage
    can I get a link to that Google page with the 5 valid keys, please?

  • Right... so he intentionally installed a pirated copy. Good work. I think we should hold these genius responsible for breaking the law now. In other news I intentionally stole a car with armored tires and proved the cops couldn't catch me and the spike strip they laid out to stop me couldn't rip my tires... blah blah blah.
  • Damn that Microsoft! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by wbtotb (447019) * on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @07:43PM (#15877484) Journal
    I thought false positives were bad, but holy crap, letting a few pirates go with false negatives is so much worse! They may never get to experience the pleasures of those prompts or being prevented from downloading updates and utilities.

    Why is this a problem for anyone but Microsoft (or those who have a perverse desire to be labeled as a pirate and then blog about it)? Do you suppose maybe he got a false negative because Microsoft is less willing to pull the trigger when in doubt?
  • If you're running an illegal version of windows, but happen to actually have a license for a legit copy, how can you go about getting legit?

    My friend has a pirated keygen'd version of xp pro, and also has a hologramed cd of xp pro complete with serial number and all... Is there an easy upgrade path available to him to go legit, without having to reinstall (too many games/apps/whatever he says.)

  • That is still a LOT of people...

    I hate WGA, every other week a new "update" that bugs me about rebooting just because microsoft suddenly cares about piracy. It is obnoxious as hell.
  • by DragonWriter (970822) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @08:02PM (#15877607)
    They claim that all but "a fraction of a percent" of those 60 million people who've been denied access to Microsoft updates and downloads are guilty, guilty, guilty. Right.

    Right. Remember, 3/2—or 119,990,000/2—is, after all, a fraction.

    Just not a proper fraction.

  • by lordperditor (648289) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @08:07PM (#15877632)
    Corporate Volume License Keys always pass the WGA test.

    e.g. HP has all the computers in the Sydney office running with one Volume License Key, now if someone were to leave HP's employ and continue to use the key MS would have no way of knowing so has to let it pass the WGA.

    It has to just shrug and go well thats HP let it pass or risk annoying the hell out of a lot of HP people if they refuse it.

  • by cab15625 (710956) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @08:12PM (#15877646)
    It's probably been suggested before, but what MS should do is what games used to do back in the '80s. When you turn on your computer, it asks you "on page 10 of the manual, what is the 7th word in line 13?"
    Espeically since windows has become too complex for a purely software based solution to ever work reliably.
  • The bigger licensing issue is of course ACADEMIC

    Mrs Smith trots off to the high street computer co and wants Windows XP, now does she buy the full version for $300 or the academic version for $98?

    Come on M$ $300 for XP but only $98 if you put a red sticker on the outside of the box with Academic Version written on it?!

    I would be interested to know how many of the boxes are sold at $300 in high st stores!
  • poor logic (Score:3, Insightful)

    by taybin (622573) <taybin.taybin@com> on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @08:22PM (#15877691) Homepage
    False negatives don't imply false positives.
  • by writermike (57327) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @08:40PM (#15877768)
    *My main PC is a Fedora Core box. My wife's main PC is a Mac. We share this Windows box, mainly for gaming.

    It's okay, man. You don't have to prove yourself to us. :-D
  • by NullProg (70833) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @08:59PM (#15877847) Homepage Journal
    From the PR notices: http://www.microsoft.com/genuine/downloads/whyVali date.aspx [microsoft.com]

    Confidence and Peace of Mind
    Your software is authentic, properly licensed and supported by Microsoft or a trusted partner.


    Ongoing Improvements
    You will get access to updates, enhancements, and innovations that help you protect and do more with your PC.


    Capabilities You Expect
    Your system will deliver the features, options, and performance you need to maximize your productivity and enjoyment.


    Greatest PR/Marketing campaign ever. Don't you feel the Love?

    Enjoy,
  • by b0s0z0ku (752509) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @10:11PM (#15878071)
    Stick it behind a firewall. Put good antivirus software on there (which can be free like Avast or AVG Free). Scan for other spyware periodically. Use Firefox to surf sites whenever possible, and don't surf obviously sketchy sites. And don't run executables that you don't know about.

    I still have an unpatched Windows 2k SP3 box which has been running behind a firewall for the last 2 1/2 years. Still relatively fast and shows no evidence of malware infestation.

    I can see updates being necessary on Server 2003, which is often quite buggy and needs patches for stuff to work, but an XP or 2k box doesn't desperately need the updates if it's used in a reasonably sane manner.

    -b.

  • by real gumby (11516) on Wednesday August 09, 2006 @11:53PM (#15878426)
    They just forgot a "!" in the checking code!

    A 10MB mandatory patch should clear that one right up.
  • My WGA Issue (Score:3, Interesting)

    by robbak (775424) on Thursday August 10, 2006 @01:02AM (#15878598) Homepage
    Here is my WGA story.

    A client's laptop started complaining. I checked its key, and it did not match the key on the sticker. So I attempted to change the key. No go with MS's vba script. No go with the activation wizard (which is another suggested way to change it) - it stated that the key was invalid. Further 'hacking' with the activation wizard (No, I don't know what I did, but there was a maximum of three buttons I could have clicked, and one of them was 'cancel!') got me a key I could use on the phone, and, after telling a bored Indian the story ("Have you installed this software on any other machine?" - I swear that quoting a snatch of Alice in Wonderland would have succeded!) he coughed up the activation code. WGA no more, but my it's a drag!

    If I charged them full price, It may well have been more than a new licence. Even so, it probably would have taken just as long to get it to accept the freshly bought key.
     
  • by j741 (788258) on Thursday August 10, 2006 @02:08AM (#15878740) Journal
    I service computers for a living. I've done so for more than 10 years. Over the past few years, I've observed a vast increase in unrecoverable hard drive failure rates, and an even larger increase of malware which negatively affects the system beyond reasonable repair. In these situations it is often much faster (and cheaper for the client) for me to re-install the customer's Windows. I'd guess that more than 80% of these re-installs involve an OEM release of Windows, where the product license key is on a sticker physically and permanently attached to the computer's case. One which is quite obviously either a legitimate license or an extremely well made (and unlikely) counterfit. Now, about half of all re-installs (which require product re-activation) fail the product activaiton (even before I can install the WGA spyware). This requires a phone call to Microsoft's product activation line. Here, if someone asks me a question or the other phone line rings or I hickup, Microsoft's non-human system will often make me start all over again repeating a boring string of numbers. After this, I get informed that the product key can not be validated (Which is the reason I called in the first place) and put on hold again until I finally get a human (if not English) voice. Then I'm asked to repeat the first part of the boring string of numbers before I'm questioned like a murder suspect about why I want to activate Windows. After all this, I am usually provided the clearance code to activate Windows. Total time for this process per client computer is approximately 20 minutes. Repeat 4 or 5 times each day, 5 days a week and Microsoft has managed to waste a very large quantity of my billable time. However, after jumping through these hoops, WGA did not bother these clients (yet).
  • by GregWebb (26123) on Thursday August 10, 2006 @04:11AM (#15879019)
    Hi all

    Had a problem last week that I'd never seen before...

    I had to reinstall XP Pro at home, so duly provided my license key during installation. Much to my displeasure, I was then required to go through the whole WGA problem to get some critical security updates.

    It flagged my license as a dud, and put my code on screen for me to see and sort out.

    Except that it didn't put in my code - the one I'd set when I installed Windows - but a completely different code...

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