Windows Genuine Advantage… Or Windows Genuine Advertisements?

from the not-such-a-good-thing dept

We’ve certainly covered plenty of stories about problems with Microsoft’s Windows Genuine Advantage program that tries to make sure the Windows operating system you’re using is properly licensed. The big problem has been a decent number of false positives, where people with perfectly legitimate copies of Windows are being told they’re using counterfeit software. However, there may be another nuisance associated with WGA. Well known Business Week columnist Stephen Wildstrom claims that when a Vista laptop he hadn’t turned on in a while was turned on and required a WGA check-in, the “success” window also included a huge ad pushing him to upgrade to Vista Home Premium. Beyond the fact that Wildstrom was already using a more advanced version of Vista so the “upgrade” push would actually be a downgrade, it raises questions about why Microsoft is using what’s supposed to just be a piracy checker to also push advertisements. It’s annoying enough that Microsoft feels the need to treat its customers like criminals and force them to confirm they’re not, but to then dump unwanted and poorly targeted advertising on top of it seems particularly tacky.

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Comments on “Windows Genuine Advantage… Or Windows Genuine Advertisements?”

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Terry G. (user link) says:


I was offended by this well before they started pushing ads through. I can’t believe that MS actually thinks this won’t make people mad enough to try to switch OS’s. The other OS’s aren’t really ready for prime time yet for me, but why is MS pushing me and other customers towards those other options? The arrogance involved in this is simply amazing!

Olivier Ricou says:


the problem is that the operating system is not the only portion of what microsoft sells. Businesses often look for solution for one vendor and microsoft does this well. they have windows, they have an office suite, they have a server product, they have a database product, they have a crm product, they have an infrastructure behind them that will enable them to keep customers even if they’re pissed.

I’m pissed, I hate that thing that comes up on a monthly basis but the cost of migrating from a microsoft shop to a linux shop is at the minimum impractical and possibly impossible.

Microsoft doesn’t make nearly as much from consumers as they do from business and so they can afford (and believe me someone did a cost analysys on this before they put it out there) it because migration from their platform to another platform is practicaly impossible.

Zero says:


I’ve been running two different operating systems for a while now. Linux Ubuntu for all of my non-gaming related computer needs and Windows XP for all of my gaming. If game manufacturers would just make their software work with Linux, I know there’s probably thousands of people that would tell MS to screw off. Besides, most gamers are high school or college students that didn’t pay for Windows anyway. Why don’t manufacturers just do MS a favor, produce games for Linux and keep people from going to jail because they didn’t want to spend their money on an over-priced OS.

Cixelsid says:

Re: Re:

The reason people don’t make games for Linux is because of the small gamer-oriented user base, lack of quality API, lack of functional drivers.

NO, that’s utter and complete bullshit. The userbase does exist, there is a whole community of Linux Gamers, OpenGL is a far superior and easier to use API than DX and both NVidia and ATI have released quality drivers for their hardware.

Dubh says:

Re: Re: Re:

NO, that’s utter and complete bullshit. The userbase does exist, there is a whole community of Linux Gamers, OpenGL is a far superior and easier to use API than DX and both NVidia and ATI have released quality drivers for their hardware

No, that is utter and complete bullshit.

Nvidia and ATI have released o.k. drivers.

The whole community you speak of isn’t enough people to make it worth game companies time to write DirectX & OpenGL, or even just OpenGL so they can sell to Linux users… They’ll do xbox, ps3, windows and skip apple & linux. OpenGL *used* to be far superior.

I’ve programmed with both extensively over the last 10 years and OpenGL sucks in comparison. It is -not- easier to use, and it is -not- easier to learn and program. I’d use any form of DirectX, even managed DirectX, before i would use OpenGL.

bottom line.. Most of the game industry prefers DirectX. Linux Fan Bois aren’t numerous enough to waste the $ to inclue them in the club. Too bad, deal with it.

Anonymous Coward says:

So what else is new? Active X and almost everything that Micro$oft includes in their software is built in so that businesses will have more access to your computer.

They have always been about being the #1 choice for business and the #1 way to get advertising into your computer.

Why else would the earlier versions of IE allow pop-ups and spyware to so easily end up on your screen? Because they are more interested in giving businesses access to you than they are to protecting you from outside influence. Thus the reason that every other browser offered everything from pop-up blockers to security that Micro$oft lagged months if not years behind on.

Peter says:

In some ways Microsoft is actually helping to push people to other operating systems, their “don’t give a darn” attitude towards customers is becoming more transparent each year, they think they can bully europe around , they ignore many of the third world countries which is one of their biggest mistake. All around the world we have a whole new generation of kids growing up learning Linux because that is all their schools and governments can afford, end result is in 10 to 20 years there will be many millions of Linux users and let us not forget China, Windows is the minority OS in China, anyone care to guess how many Chinese will be using Linux in 20 years. All I can say is that the future holds some interesting possibilities.

k britt says:

Windows Genuine Advantage

Something smells bad here. Microsofts billions, Gates net worth greater than 45% of US population. Yet their is no competition for MS garbage.

Where are the capitalists? The innovator, competitors, even wall street. How can there not be alternatives to MS garbage and malice for customers?

The MS EULA is a license to steal. Bernanke’s fed, rothschilds, rockefeller, Exxon, Wal-mart, even the US government should cast their envious eyes Redmunds way.

Fred Flint says:

Missing the Point!

Somehow the core point of the story got obscured here.

Micro$oft just officially, by any definition, turned WGA into the worst kind of spyware and there’s no way to get rid of it, supposedly.

I think a prudent question would be: what else have they done to compromise your computer and will they rent out advertising space to other companies (who sell fake Viagra) on the Windows Genuine Advantage spyware platform?

Why not? It’s just a new profit center for Micro$oft.

Marcus says:

Re: Missing the Point!

Microsoft won’t sell that space. What could very well happen is that spam advertisers will figure out how to crack the authentication portion of the check, and insert their own spammable messages in addition to Microsoft’s.


I think a prudent question would be: what else have they done to compromise your computer and will they rent out advertising space to other companies (who sell fake Viagra) on the Windows Genuine Advantage spyware platform?

claire rand (user link) says:

what actually happens with this WGA stuff.. if the machine has no internet connection, or it can just never connect to the relevant servers?

I’m sort of assuming it can be activated by phone.. but without a working internet connection i’d have thought WGA is neutered.

of course such a windows platform is less useful, but if its on *a* network, maybe not the internet its got the full TCP/IP capacity. so how does windows now react to finding it can’t talk to microsoft? does it see if it can connect to anything else to see if its connection is specifically blocked.

not so much thinking of ways of getting a false positive, i’d assume if WGA can’t talk to microsoft, nothing on the machine can, thus no updates etc. but is it possible to do this?

and is there a way to download upgrades/updates so they can be dropped onto a disc? so a machine can be brought up to speed before its net connection goes live?

Steve R. (profile) says:

Unfortunately, advertising has become the “drug” of choice for addicted companies. If advertising doesn’t work because the customer are numbed out by information overload, the corporate solution is ever more marketing. (sorry about the analogy anonymous coward – many more to come!!!).

I just bought a new DVD burner to replace one that broke. The “free” software that came with it has the come-ons to upgrade.

My M$ Access 2000 project took a dump. The computer asked to report the error, so I let it. The next screen said that M$ was no longer updating the software, so why report the error? Further down, the “solution” was to upgrade. So even the “error” reporting program is nothing more than a vehicle for pushing more sales.

Anonymous Coward says:

Advantage for whom?

I ran WGA on an XP install a couple times, then got bored of it, so I stopped downloading it. Then, I accidentally downloaded it and didn’t install it. Guess what? M$ Update no longer works at all.
What advantage do I receive from knowing if M$ got their cut? Now, I have to re-do that installation, which has all my most important apps in it. That’s a 20 hour process. Sounds like a Windows Genuine pain in the A…

|333173|3|_||3 says:

DirectX versus OpenGL

From what I have heard, DirectX meshes are aeasy to use, since they can be simply modifed by the game (re-assembling one out of component meshes to move items), and are easier to tie into fancy physics engines, allow sounds to be handled more simply, and has a number of other advantages which make it easier to program DirectX engiines than OpenGL ones.

Anonymous Coward says:


It wasn’t till recently that windows was very stable at all. As long as I am going to use xp I don’t gas about wga. I don’t even use IE unless I have to. The update process is a simple way to get updates for office, the os, AND miscellaneous drivers. Amazingly, most of the world is not buying or installing pc’s so that they can jerk off on a daily basis with ‘games’. Gamers and their mentality are right up there with an aol/myspace acct. or an interest in the latest youtube video. wgaf.
I will however NEVER install vista. MS’s days are numbered. and good riddance

MeatPancake says:

Ad Spam Sucks.

Personally, I am quite fed up with the computer programs that I use trying to sell me more stuff to fill my hard drive. But, the internet itself is one giant ad machine these days. Ad revenue is a way of modern life. I think that Microsoft is late to the trend, but by no means the first. Most major software firms shamelessly try to slip in opportunities to buy more of their products (while you use their products). There is nothing really wrong with it. I just think that most people have lost confidence in Microsoft and this reinforces why. It is tacky.

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