Microsoft may let some users off the hook on antipiracy checks

Microsoft Corp. is releasing an updated version of its antipiracy software for Windows XP that will start to give the benefit of the doubt to some users whose operating systems may or may not be valid. The company has added a new "indeterminate" category to its Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) Notifications tool for cases in […]

Microsoft Corp. is releasing an updated version of its antipiracy software for Windows XP that will start to give the benefit of the doubt to some users whose operating systems may or may not be valid.

The company has added a new "indeterminate" category to its Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) Notifications tool for cases in which the software can't be sure whether the operating system running on a user's PC is legitimate or not, said Michala Alexander, head of Microsoft's antipiracy efforts in the U.K.

Previous versions of the WGA software labeled an operating system as either valid or invalid. In the latter case, it would block the user from downloading software updates, except for security patches and other critical updates.

But some users have complained that WGA Notifications incorrectly identified their copies of Windows as unlicensed. The new category aims to address that problem by enabling the tool to simply not rule one way or the other on whether software is pirated.

When the updated version of the WGA tool flags an operating system's validity as "indeterminate," the user will be redirected to Microsoft's Web site for more information. Alexander said one way out of the problem would be to re-enter a legitimate product key, which wouldn't require the user to reinstall the operating system.

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Microsoft, Windows XP, WGA, Anti-Piracy