WGA Gets Worse … and the Geeks figure out how to disable it.

Microsoft is beefing up Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) in an attempt to cut down on piracy. Nothing wrong with that… except that like all forms of DRM, it forces legitimate users to jump through hoops to run software that they have paid for.

This is one of the reasons that I refused to upgrade from Windows 2000 to Windows XP. The latter forced users to go through Product Activation – a process that involves sending information about your system away to Microsoft. This is all quick and easy… until you upgrade your system – which I do quite often – in which case you could very easily find yourself phoning up Microsoft and begging them for the right to to use your own software. If you bought a brand-name machine like a Dell, HP or e-machines it gets even worse. If the motherboard goes and you cannot get an identical one, your Windows license dies. Ask me how I know.

Interestingly, the Corporate editions of Windows XP are not subject to this restriction… I wonder why?

Never one to miss out on a potential cash cow, Microsoft subsequently retrofitted WGA into Windows 2000. I thought that this was exceptionally sneaky, but since it was optional (not needed for security updates) I wasn’t bothered. Now they are making WGA a little more proactive by making it nag refuseniks like myself into submission.

Naturally, the Geek community found a way to disable WGA within a matter of days.

Meanwhile, in China, street vendors are selling copies of Windows for $2. What is MS do about them?

How many times do I have to say it? DRM does not work.

Memo to Microsoft: If you have to implement DRM, make it seamless and painless – or users will refuse to upgrade.

Or worse, migrate to Linux.

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