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Microsoft cites human error in WGA server malfunctioning

Last week’s malfunction of Microsoft’s Windows Genuine Advantage anti-piracy mechanism was caused when new software code was accidentally put on the servers running the system, before those servers had been made ready for the code, according to a post last night by Alex Kochis, WGA senior product manager. Kochis writes:

“Nothing more than human error started it all. Pre-production code was sent to production servers. The production servers had not yet been upgraded with a recent change to enable stronger encryption/decryption of product keys during the activation and validation processes. The result of this is that the production servers declined activation and validation requests that should have passed.”

Kochis explains in the post that the problem made some computers fail the anti-piracy validation and activation processes, causing them to lose advanced Windows features and get a “This copy of Windows is not genuine” message, until the WGA system was fixed and people were able to properly activate and validate their computers.

But beyond the cause of the problem, the question is how it will affect public opinion of the Windows Genuine Advantage system.

Among other things, the malfunction has caused analysts to raise questions about the company’s safeguards in situations like this. Computerworld yesterday explored those issues in this story, quoting people including analyst Michael Cherry of Directions on Microsoft:

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Microsoft, WGA, Genuine Windows, Genuine Vista, Genuine XP, Windows Validation

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