Since the Windows Genuine Advantage debut as a pilot on 9/2004 Microsoft is slowly making the program more annoying and intrusive.
In the beginning the WGA was an opt-in feature, and then slowly it became mandatory. Users who choose not to validate their copy of Windows can not download updates from Windows update (they still can download critical security updates via automatic update feature in Windows).
On Tuesday Microsoft will make WGA more intrusive and will use scare tactics to make users validate and purchase a legal copy. On 4/25/06 Microsoft will start WGA Notification in the US, UK, Australia, NZ and Malaysia. The WGA notification has been running as a pilot in several countries such as Norway, Taiwan, Sweden, Israel, Denmark, Poland and other countries.
The new WGA notification campaign will have a new logo for OEM and system builders, as seen here exclusively for the first time.
The new Windows Genuine Advantage Logo
Some users will begin to receive the update as early as Tuesday next week. When a user goes to WGA to validate and/or download things like IE 7.0 or Media player or take advantage of the Buy Local offers they may receive the notification if their copy is not genuine.
Up until now if you didn’t validate your copy of Windows nothing happened, but now with the WGA Notification, every time you reboot your computer, log-in and periodically (every hour or so) Windows will display a nag screen “reminding” you to validate your copy.
Log-in Nag Screen
From the first time users get the request to validate they have 14 days to comply. After 14 days they will not be able to download security upgrades such as IE7 and Windows Defender. Critical security updates will still be available like it is now.
Tooltip baloon nag message
Microsoft hopes that by notifying users that they are not eligible for all security upgrades it will drive more users to purchase a legal copy of Windows, and also report the counterfeit dealers that sold them their copy. In some cases Microsoft will give a free license to users who are victims of a high quality counterfeiting.
However there are good news for those who still don’t wish to validate their copy (and no it is not GEICO). There is a way for users to turn off the notifier but it may be turned back on in the future as they try to download the latest updates to IE or Media player or take advantage of the Buy Local offers through their local system builder.
And last note, if you think that this is the end, Microsoft is preparing enhanced notification and better VLK validations in Windows Vista.Aviran Mordo