The 19-hour blackout of the Microsoft Corp. servers that identify copies of Windows XP and Vista as legitimate or counterfeit shows that serious flaws exist in the process and raises questions about the reliability of Microsoft's services, analysts said today.
From about 8 p.m. EDT Friday to 3 p.m. Saturday, a still-unspecified "server-side issue" with the system that validates Windows XP and Vista erroneously fingered users as pirates, preventing them from downloading most software from the Microsoft Web site, and in the case of Vista, disabling several features, including the operating system's Aero graphical user interface. Windows users lit up the company's support forums with more than 450 messages, some of which were collected in threads have been viewed by as many as 45,000 people.
As of midday Monday, Microsoft had not explained the problem with the Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) servers, although on Saturday program manager Phil Liu promised that after the team had generated a fix, "[I will] get you all what you are looking for, an explanation and cause."
Michael Cherry, an analyst at Kirkland, Wash.-based Directions on Microsoft, took the company to task over the snafu. "Despite the fact that Microsoft has rolled out WGA slowly and methodically to ensure they have the capacity, availability and reliability to handle customer validation requests, it appears that any plans they had to handle a service problem are not adequate.