AfterDawn: Tech news

Lawsuit alleges Windows Genuine Advantage is 'spyware'

Written by James Delahunty (Google+) @ 09 Sep 2009 0:06 User comments (22)

Lawsuit alleges Windows Genuine Advantage is 'spyware' Microsoft Corp. has been hit with another lawsuit over the Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) software that is used as an anti-piracy tool for Windows XP. The latest lawsuit - filed in a Washington district court - also makes claims of false advertising and privacy law violations. The false advertising possibly refers to how the WGA tools are offered as security updates and not anti-piracy tools.
Mirroring past lawsuits, the complaint also addresses how WGA phones home to Microsoft on a daily basis with IP addresses and other private information of users. This combined with an alleged difficulty in removing WGA from a system leads the complaint to suggest that it acts no different than spyware.

Two lawsuits filed in 2006 over the same issues have not amounted to any decisions yet, and since then Microsoft has extended modified versions of WGA to Windows Vista, Windows 7 and Microsoft Office. Online validation is generally required to download updates for the products from Microsoft's servers.

It has also come under fire in the past for having allegedly high levels of false positives, where genuine copies of Windows XP were flagged as counterfeit. If that should happen to you, then maybe this tool will help.

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22 user comments

19.9.2009 0:14

You know how long people have flagged WGA as spyware? They have no right obtaining some of the information they do. Makes you wonder how much information they collect from us without telling us.

29.9.2009 0:42

WGA is pain in the ass and all it dose is collect data for ms to resell...

39.9.2009 0:49

Originally posted by ZippyDSM:
WGA is pain in the ass and all it dose is collect data for ms to resell...
Did I miss something? Where was it revealed that M$ sells data? Or are you just kidding? :-)

49.9.2009 0:50

Plus, it does not even report back to microsoft's servers...it connects to servers run by Akami and other third party server companies...servers that many, many people have administrator level access to.

I can block by program, IP address, port, or just about anything with my firewall. Microsoft update and WGA connect to hundreds of different servers, even when the primary servers are available and accessable, it will still cycle to other servers...just to make sure your data is on as many low-security servers as possible.

59.9.2009 0:51

Quote:
Originally posted by ZippyDSM:
WGA is pain in the ass and all it dose is collect data for ms to resell...
Did I miss something? Where was it revealed that M$ sells data? Or are you just kidding? :-)
Its generally what they do when they have so much data, sell it for profit!

69.9.2009 1:00

What ever happened to illegal search and seizures??? And if this applies to the relationship between the government in regards to private citizens, why in the 'F' should a private company be allowed to violate our privacy too? One think for Mickey$oft to protect it's products, it is another thing to over step it's bounds.

Will this change? I doubt it. Mainly as a look around in my environment at work and social/friends, on the professional side I see so many foreigners working around me that are absolutely oblivious to what the civil rights Americans are entitled how they should be protected by. All of them are more interested in just getting their green card and finally citizenship, they really have no clue.

On the other side many friends i have that are younger/older, if they are educated the are smart regarding math, science and engineer while most are simply illiterate when it comes to what our civil rights should be.

Combine this with legislators that simply give lip service to us as citizens but bend over backward at the whim of area businesses. But this can be touchy issue currently. The government especially now desires to get jobs and the economy going... Pass a law or rules against Mick$oft that might stifle sales/revenue (taxes) or jobs, good luck finding any judge or legislator to slap the hands of any business when they put their hands in places to molest you by examining your private parts... Nope don't see it changing anytime soon :(

79.9.2009 3:21

If you think microsoft is worried, then you are a fool. Microsoft has been given injunctions preventing it from selling software before. They get around it because a corporation can only be fined $1 million per day. If you make $10 million per day selling software, and you start shipping out every 10 days instead of every day, it is like having a 1% tax on your software...this is basicly what they did after the government told them to stop making windows 98 because it clearly violeted monopoly laws.

If you have money, then you can bribe those who make the laws. If you have lots of money, then you can bribe the laws themselves!

89.9.2009 5:36

Maybe yu could do something different...BUY Windows!

99.9.2009 8:07

Originally posted by DimwitDuk:
Maybe yu could do something different...BUY Windows!
Did you not read?

Quote:
It has also come under fire in the past for having allegedly high levels of false positives, where genuine copies of Windows XP were flagged as counterfeit.

109.9.2009 10:19

Originally posted by bugzy113:
Originally posted by DimwitDuk:
Maybe yu could do something different...BUY Windows!
Did you not read?

Quote:
It has also come under fire in the past for having allegedly high levels of false positives, where genuine copies of Windows XP were flagged as counterfeit.

My GF's PC and a work server had the same issue with WGA...both legit copies.

119.9.2009 13:48

WGA isn't that bad, i've seen worse. WGA Collects your Computer model,MAC address,GUID,Hard drive serial number,Region and language for the OS, OS version,BIOS information, manufacturer,Validation,Windows XP product ID.

then it remains non active, till you go to MSupdate. it remains on if you have auto updates enabled.

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 09 Sep 2009 @ 14:03

129.9.2009 14:48

I know from past experience that WGA does not stop critical updates on your pc. Other goodies (or badies) will not be upgraded, as in new internet explorer and suchlike but I remember unchecking WGA from downloading and still received security updates from MS. I suppose they want your pc covered so it does not affect other pc's on the network or something and the only thing that happened was an annoying pop saying this version was not legit. Maybe it has changed now cause that was a few years ago now.
As for dialling home, it wouldn't surprise me cause who is gonna audit the software if no one is allowed to know how it works in the first place. Propitiatory software plus the secrecy act covers all bases me thinks.

139.9.2009 15:08

I think it's outragious, as to how Microshaft gives us a false sense of security with the "Important security update" notification....just so they can have spyware installed on our PC's to monitor what we have installed!!!!
No wonder there are more and more people switching to alternative OS's! I myself, have 27 PC's in my business, that WERE running XP and a couple with server editions.
But you know how I got around MS and their snoopy software???? I now have MAC OSX Snow Leopard installed on everything!What made me decide to switch, was that the WGA kept telling me that all of my "LEGITAMATE" copies of XP and Server OS's, were pirated copies! And to think...that I enjoyed Beta testing MS software the past 15 years (I still have an original MS "BOB" beta disk!).

149.9.2009 17:10

Originally posted by DimwitDuk:
Maybe yu could do something different...BUY Windows!
Took the words out of my mouth. It's amazing how much people complain about having to actually buy something.

And as for the false positives there are way to fix that...like calling MS and having a choice word or two.

I had someone steal a cd key for my copy of Win Xp, called MS and let them know. Not only did they blacklist the old key; they provided me with a new cd and key for free.
This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 09 Sep 2009 @ 17:15

“Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe in. Breathe out. Forget this... and attaining enlightenment is the least of your problems.”
–Zen Judaism by Someone Clever

159.9.2009 17:36

Originally posted by o0cynix0o:
Originally posted by DimwitDuk:
Maybe yu could do something different...BUY Windows!
Took the words out of my mouth. It's amazing how much people complain about having to actually buy something.

And as for the false positives there are way to fix that...like calling MS and having a choice word or two.

I had someone steal a cd key for my copy of Win Xp, called MS and let them know. Not only did they blacklist the old key; they provided me with a new cd and key for free.
Or get a real OS from the open source / GNU community who provide bullet proof OS's and apps for a big thankyou some bandwidth and donations if you can afford it.

169.9.2009 18:32

edited due to stupidity edited by ddp

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 09 Sep 2009 @ 21:30

179.9.2009 22:59

Quote:
Originally posted by DimwitDuk:
Maybe yu could do something different...BUY Windows!
Took the words out of my mouth. It's amazing how much people complain about having to actually buy something.

And as for the false positives there are way to fix that...like calling MS and having a choice word or two.

I had someone steal a cd key for my copy of Win Xp, called MS and let them know. Not only did they blacklist the old key; they provided me with a new cd and key for free.
-But WGA does not hurt pirates; the pirated versions usualy have it removed or dissabled. WGA only affects people who buy windows, or who buy computers with it pre-installed (or, once in a rare while, a dumb pirate that does not know what he is doing). We are not talking about the big "You may be a victim of software conterfeiting" warning. We are talking about confirmed legit WGA, that continues to send data to microsoft on an extremely frequent basis, through servers that might as well be public, for reasons that they will not admit.

1810.9.2009 0:07

Originally posted by Morreale:
edited due to stupidity edited by ddp
lol

But anyways my friend had this problem. Legit key on a 4 year old computer went "unlegit" a couple months ago. My stupidity solved his problem ;)

If this happened to me, I'd be mad too. I mean it's one thing to protect your product, make sure people pay, but I think it's too far when regular paying people have this happen to them, especially those without my stupidity. This is similar to the 360 lawsuits, many people suing after being "burned" for buying what was said to be a perfectly fine product. The people won, could we see the same outcome here?

1910.9.2009 2:27

Quote:
Originally posted by Morreale:
edited due to stupidity edited by ddp
lol

But anyways my friend had this problem. Legit key on a 4 year old computer went "unlegit" a couple months ago. My stupidity solved his problem ;)

If this happened to me, I'd be mad too. I mean it's one thing to protect your product, make sure people pay, but I think it's too far when regular paying people have this happen to them, especially those without my stupidity. This is similar to the 360 lawsuits, many people suing after being "burned" for buying what was said to be a perfectly fine product. The people won, could we see the same outcome here?
you do realize XP keygen's can actually make a legit key and sometimes that legit key is in use by another machine.as do pesky key thief's that stop by and write down keys from the back of machines that don't belong to them. like school/office machines.

a little secret. there's a reason for middle east tech support we call it free cd keys, but you can call it what you want.

2010.9.2009 11:09

I know my school has VLK keys... The product keys on the machines are not used.

2114.9.2009 3:57
NikiSoft
Inactive

M$ collects data, not only with WGA, i mean cmon, hava you checked your network activity with a third party software? And no i dont mean Nod32 or other very popular security softwares, since most of them have deals with M$
That does not make M$ "a bad guy", Google does that also, and Facebook and all other "big" "brands" too. There has even been talk about FaceBook being owned by different Governments of different countries, US and UK for example.
And i bet that 99.5% never read all the "terms and conditions" an other "small prints2 when installing something, so what M$ does is probably very legal.
And yes, most of them probably sell the data they collect, its a good business you know, and thats where "smart ads" come from

2214.9.2009 6:49

The WGA taking legitimate copies of XP and Office for pirated versions is indeed laughable, as is MS calling WGA updates "security updates".

But if they want to see what I have installed, let them. I'll still download whatever the hell I want.

My father ran a pirate copy of XP on some laptop once. MS sent him an alert and *gasp* turned his desktop background black! How terrifying...

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 14 Sep 2009 @ 6:51

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