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Microsoft Changes WGA

Microsoft has changed a feature found in its Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) software after receiving complaints about the program’s daily check-ins with the company’s servers. Now, the tool will dial home in 14-day intervals instead of after every system boot.

The frequency of the tool’s contact with Microsoft was initially reported by Lauren Weinstein, cofounder of People for Internet Responsibility, who posted his findings on a blog and compared the tool to spyware. Weinstein noticed that even on Windows XP systems that WGA already had verified as legitimate, the tool will attempt to contact Microsoft every time the PC is booted.

Microsoft launched a test version of the WGA tool on April 24 as part of its Genuine Software Initiative intended to fight rampant piracy of the company’s software. The program consists of two major components: WGA Validation and WGA Notifications. Once installed, the former checks whether a copy of Windows XP is licensed.

If the tool determines that the software is pirated, WGA Notifications will direct users to a Microsoft site to “learn more about the benefits of using genuine Windows software.” The program will continue to display “reminders” following each system start, presumably until the user purchases new software.

Windows Genuine Advantage

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