Windows’ Disingenuous Disadvantage II

When Windows XP came out, I refused to buy it. There were several reasons for this; one of them was that I was philosophically opposed to Windows Product Activation (WPA). When you first run Windows, it wants to talk to Microsoft to “activate” your copy of Windows.

Apparently is no longer enough. Some years later, Microsoft introduced Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) – a mechanism that ensures that your copy of Windows is, in fact genuine.

Funny, I thought that WPA already did that…

I took a stroll around Microsoft’s official pages, and all I could find was lots of blather about how Microsoft wants to protect us from piracy and counterfeiting. There was very little explanation of how or why, just lots of pictures of smiling people and PR-blather about how much you need to be sure that your copy of windows is “genuine”.

Err… that’s not really true, is it?

Think about it. Every version of Windows until now has gotten along fine without Microsoft continually poking its nose in to ensure that your copy is “legit”. Over that time Microsoft’s growth has been exponential. Who is really inconvenienced by Piracy and counterfeiting? Microsoft, that’s who.

So when they say “Protect Your Business with Genuine Microsoft Software“, what they really mean is “Protect OUR business with Genuine Microsoft Software”

Nothing wrong with that; I just wish that they would be a little more honest about it and call it what it is.If that were all there was to it, this would hardly be a blogworthy subject; but it doesn’t end there.

There are two specific problems with WGA.

First of is the way that MS has introduced it to the world. Although it has been around a while, they have recently shoehorned it into Windows Critical Updates. For the past few years, Microsoft’s have advised us to set our systems to automatically update, downloading and installing new patches as they become available, whispering “Trust us to keep your computer safe”. For years they cultivated this trust… and now anyone who trusted them has had this totally unnecessary piece of software automagically installed on their system.

The second is the fact WGA has been known to get it wrong and issue false-positives; situations where WGA has instructed some users told that their totally-legit license was “not genuine”… and then offered to sell them a “Genuine” version. This is completely unacceptable, and yet another reason to say the hell away from Windows XP.

I have no reason to doubt that Vista will be any better.

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