Microsoft Piracy Check Snafu Mislabels Authentic Windows Copies

August 27, 2007

J. Nicholas Hoover - InformationWeek

Microsoft's Windows Genuine Advantage servers, which validate copies of Windows XP and Vista as authentic, encountered problems late Friday or early Saturday, sending Windows users into a frenzy.

Users suddenly lit up Microsoft support forums with complaints that their once-validated copies of Microsoft Windows were suddenly suspected to be counterfeit.

Microsoft initially responded to complaints by posting a note in its online WGA forum informing readers that WGA "might be down for a few days" and that users should try back again on Tuesday, four days after complaints began filtering in. Validation was working fine again by later Saturday, and Microsoft's Windows Vista Team Blog noted that "very few customers were affected," but there was no shortage of complaints on the company's WGA support forum site.

Without a fix, users would have had to turn off anything that would ping those servers for validation, including updates and patches, until the issue got resolved or risk having their software wrongly labeled as not genuine. In Windows XP, a failed validation doesn't have much effect. However, in Windows Vista, it will disable features like Vista's Aero user interface, its ReadyBoost performance tool, and DirectX support a few days after a failed validation.


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