AfterDawn: Tech news

WGA update phones home

Written by James Delahunty (Google+) @ 09 Mar 2007 10:32 User comments (16)

WGA update phones home The latest version of Microsoft's Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) software phones home regardless of whether or not a user installs it. Microsoft has admitted, that even if you choose to click Cancel when prompted to install the anti-piracy tool from Windows Update, the software will still phone home to the Redmond-based company.
WGA has been criticized for many reasons; mainly over privacy concerns and the software's mistakes of branding fully legitimate Windows XP installations as pirated. However, even though this latest development has provoked an angry response from web sites and bloggers, Microsoft ensures that it does not send information that could identify an individual user, but is instead used to collate statistics on WGA use.

"The data collection and transfer in question are part of some of our update download services, such as the Windows Update service. As with other programs downloaded via these services, the success or failure of WGA Notifications' installation is sent to Microsoft," Microsoft UK anti-piracy manager Michala Alexander said in a statement.

He added: "If the user interrupts installation of WGA Notifications, we send the number of the screen on which installation stopped (first, second, etc.). In order to establish an accurate count, we also generate several globally unique identifiers (GUIDs) that do not contain any personal information. We use the GUIDs to tally the number of individual machines without identifying the user. Other data sent includes user and machine language settings and whether or not the machine was joined to a domain."

The Register

Previous Next  

16 user comments

19.3.2007 11:32

well thats total BS.i never install it and they never call.

29.3.2007 11:58

If I understand correctly, this will install automatically whether you agreed to it or not. Come on hackers, do your thing.

39.3.2007 12:07

It does this whether you tell it to or not, it's a background process.

Besides, it doesn't say they're going to 'call' you.

BTW: I love the username "Bignewb" that's awesome. :D

49.3.2007 12:08

thanks.i used to be but now im senior member and i do the answering more than the talking so now i wanna change my name.

59.3.2007 12:38

A GUID is a unique identifier. Simply because it isn't tied to personally-identifiying information (yet) doesn't mean it can't be. The purpose behind using a GUID is to identify a particular machine. And, it's none of MS business where my updates stopped, whether my machine is part of a domain, etc.

69.3.2007 12:54

Boy, am i glad i run snort and keep track of all my processes with my geeksquad disc :-) not to mention i haven't updated in aaaages, and i turned off the security center nag screen that pops up if auto updates are disabled.
I knew being paranoid would lead to some good things eventually.
To all you folks who've already gotten this : find out if your government has rules against electronic surveillance, then start filing those privacy invasion claims ;-)

79.3.2007 14:17

No offense, but the 'geek squad' is barely more capable than any old McDonalds employee; and I'd personally rather get my tech support from Mickey D's, because at least they won't pretend to know what they're doing.

As for unique identifiers...

M$ requires registration to activate Vista. This links you to your product, and your system ID information that M$ uses to monitor activity.

If that doesn't sound like Big Brother watching... I don't know what does.

"Its not stupid, its advanced!" - The Almighty Tallest, Invader Zim

89.3.2007 16:10

I agree about geek squad. They are idiots. I don't know how many times that I have argued with them about a bestbuy return only to find out that I was right in the first place.

99.3.2007 16:36

this is just one of the many reasons i switched to a mac

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 09 Mar 2007 @ 16:36

109.3.2007 21:43

i wish i didnt have to update, but i have to being at school :(

1111.3.2007 7:28

all the more reason to run a personal firewall so when your computer tries to connect to something it blocks it and notifies you untill you officialy allow it. and you can block it forever if you choose.

1211.3.2007 11:11

You can phone home my Windows is legit. However you are not going to get me to purchase multiple copies to install on my other machines. I feel one legit copy should be able to be enough.

The system you have in place is absolutely crapp and the people working in the call centre's are sometimes rude.

1312.3.2007 18:36

Agreed, once you own a software you should be able to install it as many times as you like, even if it's ms or anything else.


1418.3.2007 8:18

The WGA tool will upload itself to your system eventually even if you keep telling it you don't want to download it. I just came in one day and my system was rebooted from where I leave it on all the time and the WGA was already installed. Thats what I call foul play on the part of MS. So i did some research to see how to get rid of it and I found out how to do that and so much more. The WGA is more than a Guid. If you look at the coding of the language its also a front to house DRM's. Ever notice how they said Vista was gonna be loaded with DRM's and right before they launched Vista, MS started this WGA tool for XP. With the DRM's in place for the XP WGA, it causes your video or sound card drivers to tweek out and corrupting whatever you try to play that you don't have a license for. Thats because they are trying to screw everyone using pirated XP software into getting rid of it to buy Vista. I think i'm gonna switch to a Linux based system next. I'm tired of dealing with MS.

1518.3.2007 8:22

I already run linux on one of my machines.

I'm eagerly awaiting Freespire 2.0, which should be vastly improved. I am also suspecting that with it; there may be improved functionality for windows-based games. And with M$ making it harder to authenticate legitimate games; I am hoping that companies like NCSoft will start making linux clients. ID and Epic already do with basically all of their games, so mayhaps this will start turning things.

1619.3.2007 13:00

I'm waiting to see how long it will take folks to switch to Linux or other open source operating systems. Wanna help that process along? support the folks writing code for them, that should send a big message to M$ and the industry.

Comments have been disabled for this article.

Latest user comments

News archive