Posted by: Stephen Wildstrom on May 25, 2007
The craziness of Microsoft’s Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) continues to amaze me. Today I was installing Windows Defender, Microsoft’s so-so, but free, anti-spyware program on a PC. First, Microsoft’s download site invoked Windows Genuine Advantage before it would allow me to download the program. Then it invoked it again before it would let me install the program. The result was a lot of hassle in a simple installation.
Microsoft has been making real progress against mass piracy in China an d other merging markets. Its deal with Lenovo alone to insure legitimate copies of Windows on machines sold in china will stop more pirated copies in a year than WGA will in a lifetime. Yet, seemingly taking a cue from the music industry, Microsoft is both harrassing its customers and insulting them by treating them all as potential criminals.
An additional note to Microsoft: The company says it is working to make its services browser-agnostic. But WGA makes virtually all downloads dependent on using Internet Explorer. While it is possible to get through WGA verification using Firefox, it is sufficiently ugly that I think most users will give up.