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Windows Genuine Advantage worse than we all feared

WGA statisticsVenerable Windows expert Ed Bott has been carefully documenting his misadventures with Windows Genuine Advantage for a few months now. As evidence mounted that the WGA system was not as bulletproof as Microsoft would like to have us believe, Ed decided to get statistical on their ass, so to speak. After scouring Microsoft's own help forums looking for people reporting problems with WGA, Ed found an extremely disturbing trend: a full 42% of the Windows installations that are flagged by WGA as not valid turned out to be perfectly legitimate. That's a far cry from the "almost perfect" and "we know of no problems with WGA" drivel that Microsoft continues to spout. And consider that the numbers used here are only for Windows users that were actually willing and able to find Microsoft's support forums and use them. I'd wager the real number is far worse.

Realistically, Microsoft didn't ever expect their user base to actually like WGA. As with all DRM software, there is absolutely nothing in it for the end user; the best case scenario is that the vendor (be it a media or software vendor) is going to inconvenience a number of their customers. The worst case scenario is this one; the vendor makes a large number of false positive detections, and significantly alienates a large percentage of their customers.

I should be clear that in opposing WGA, I'm not advocating software piracy. It's reasonable to expect Microsoft to try to protect their interests. What Ed's saying, and I'm agreeing with, is that Microsoft's first attempt at a tool to prevent piracy is horrifically flawed, and is resulting in nightmarish situations for many of their users.

Lucky for all of us, WGA is baked right in to Windows Vista. Gee, I can't wait for that.

Tags: Ed Bott, EdBott, news, osupdates, WGA, Windows Genuine Advantage, Windows Vista, WindowsGenuineAdvantage, WindowsVista