Chinese Student Sues Microsoft; Claims WGA A Violation Of Privacy

from the privacy?--what's-that? dept

American companies like Yahoo, Microsoft and Google have all been accused of violating users privacy in working with the Chinese government. In fact, Yahoo’s been sued for handing over info on a critic of the Chinese government. However, the latest such lawsuit to come out of China is a bit surprising and has absolutely nothing to do with government cooperation. A Chinese college student is suing the company for $180 for the fact that Microsoft’s Windows Genuine Advantage system reports some information back to Redmond. There’s already been a class action suit in the US suggesting that WGA violates anti-spyware legislation, but it’s still somewhat surprising to see such a lawsuit come out of China, where you still expect most of the privacy complaints having more to do with the Chinese government.

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Comments on “Chinese Student Sues Microsoft; Claims WGA A Violation Of Privacy”

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ToRn Computers Inc says:

RE: Chinese Student

Heh, you think that Microsoft wants the world to hear that they’ve just violated half of america/the world? That’d be like Microsoft fessing up and telling you, the customer, that windows really only costs $12/unit to produce (not an accurate number, hell I dont even know what it is, but as an example). How many people do you think they would lose as customers who have been with them since 3.1 if a class action law suit was published in every newspaper around the world? Especially when it is in regards to privacy.

Falindraun says:

Re: Chinese Student

if you have never done any programming in C/C++ or Assembly then you have nothing to say about how much an operating system costs to make. You might be thinking about the cost of the disk and to burn the info on the disk, but the blood sweat and tears that went into the act of programming is much more then you will ever realize, that is if you have never done any programming of any kink. If you have, then you would be thinking differently and would not have complained about the cost of production of an operating system.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Chinese Student

if you have never done any programming in C/C++ or Assembly then you have nothing to say about how much an operating system costs to make.

Well, I have. I guess that gives me some special rights then, according to you.

If you have, then you would be thinking differently and would not have complained about the cost of production of an operating system.

That statement is provably false. I have, and I complain about the cost of Windows. Especially the way M$ prices it differently in different areas and to different people. Why should an American kid have to pay twenty times as much as someone in China? But then, I’ve never been a big fan of discriminatory pricing as it’s called. I also complain about the low quality. Buffer overflow vulnerabilities? That’s just plain sloppy programming.

Casper says:

Re: Re: Chinese Student

if you have never done any programming in C/C++ or Assembly then you have nothing to say about how much an operating system costs to make. You might be thinking about the cost of the disk and to burn the info on the disk, but the blood sweat and tears that went into the act of programming is much more then you will ever realize, that is if you have never done any programming of any kink. If you have, then you would be thinking differently and would not have complained about the cost of production of an operating system.

Well, just so you know, I am a software developer and for years did use CC++. Now, let’s start talking numbers here. You seemed overly crazed when he mentioned that the pricing structure was inflated, so lets do a little math and see how much money MS has raked in for the Vista. First of all, lets see the numbers of sales MS claimed. In February of 2007 they said they had sold 20 million copies. Assuming they only charged $75 a copy (less then 1/3 going rate in the US) they still raked in over $1,500,000,000 (at the beginning of the year while being rated at less then 1/3 shelf price). Assuming even 1/3 of the sales were off the shelf sales for nearly $300 a copy, would be $2,000,000,000 for 1/3 of the sales….. see where I’m going with this?

Andy says:

Re: Re: Chinese Student

It doesn’t matter whether it’s C/C++, Assembly or any other language. Programming costs are easily calculable as a per man-hour labour rate. Programmers work like anyone else, as do designers, testers, packaging and delivery teams. Code doesn’t fall from Redmond heaven down to us eternally grateful mere mortals who must simply accept Bill’s bounty at whatever cost to us and be thankful. If you have no clue about business economics, perhaps you are the one who has nothing to say about how much an operating system costs to make. It’s all about production costs plus profit margin = price to customer. Of course these figures are skewed when the same product costs different amounts to different target consumers.

R3d Jack says:

Re: RE: Chinese Student

Zero. People and companies are completely accustomed to M$ abuse; not only that, corporate IT departments are pushing all kinds of M$ only policies. If SQL Server started transmitting the contents of entire databases to M$, all that would happen is that companies would configure their switches to block the traffic. I’m guilty, too, although my next (home) PC will be a Mac.

random cellist says:

Re: $180

jeez the topic has gone quite astray…oh well….not like many might be interested at this point but……..$180 US is quite a bit of Chinese Yuan. it sounds silly to Americans, but 180 dollars is a really nice hunk of cash for a mainland Chinese citizen. i.e. when I was there I bought a pack of cigarettes for 40 cents US, bottle of water was roughly 25 cents US, one-hour full-body massage-$7.50……….the happy finish…$40…lol ( it really is that much….just don’t ask).

james last says:

Re: WTF?!

As a Microsoft lover, you sure forgot to use their slick spell checker. 😉
Aside from that, I agree, nobody is putting a gun to anyone’s head to use Windows. The only people concerned about the WGA are people who haven’t paid for their copy of Windows. Go buy a car, and you have to give away a lot more personal info.
All this nonsense is just thought up to keep our lawyers employed.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: WTF?!

You two are morons.

I have a perfectly *** ILLEGAL *** copy of Windows XP professional. Windows WGA doesn’t bother me at all, my copy easily passes this nonsense test and I am free to use whatever downloads and support services offer to update my *** PIRATE *** copy.

The clue you idiots fail to ever get is that this kind of protection does not affect the pirates. It only ever affects legitimate users. After all when the WGA fails the pirate just gets a new key, which is really easy. The legit user has to call MS and prove his version is legit….

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: WTF?!

Wrong the only people complaining about WGA are the people that have actually paid for the privilege of using the software and do not like the concept of having to prove you didn’t steal it. those that have stolen it do not care and tend to enjoy the little cat and mouse game. Microsoft is busy alienating every legal customer it has I had 20 machines that had to be repaired after Microsoft Servers denied my legal SLA license. and all we hear is oh we made a mistake sorry.

Trevlac says:

Re: Re: WTF?!

I use both Ubuntu Linux and Windows XP. No one forced me in the physical sense to use Windows, but take a step back and think about the market for the moment; Microsoft corporation’s closest Operating System competitor is Apple with their Macintosh system. Apple doesn’t have anywhere close to Microsoft’s market share. Now think of Novell and Sun micro systems. No one uses Novell OS or Solaris. As Microsoft has the highest market share (and we’re talking monopoly territory), you really are forced to use their software if you have a PC. And you’re forced to have a PC if a Mac can’t do everything you need.

On another note, no. WGA worriers are not always pirates because I happen to think the WGA is ridiculous. I’ve read the EULA on it and, well just go read it sometime if you want to know how horrible it is. One last thing, comparing the purchase of a vehicle to the installation of required software to obtain updates to an _already purchased_ product is a total logical fallacy.

Idiots are boring says:

Re: WTF?!

Let’s face it – the average American couldn’t use a real computer if his life depended on it. MS has a sweet little market spoon-feeding the moron majority. Corporations go along with it because they, too, are too stupid to deal with a real computer.

People with brains who don’t want the MS BS have already switched to a flavor of Linux that suits them. The ignorant masses, which includes many computer ‘experts’ will keep complaining until Big Brother tucks them in and kisses them goodnight.

August West says:


The dude that brought this lawsuit is probably just pissed because his pirated copy of XP won’t run Windows updates and keeps getting infected with spyware. The 180 dollars pays for the time he had to use HijackThis! and Spybot to remove the spywares because Defender would not download either, or the malicious spftware removal tools.

There is no legitimate reason to be upset about WGA. If WGA upsets you that badly shut up and get a MAC. Or use Linux.

claire rand (user link) says:

had a legal copy of xp, disc, certificate the works. WGA says no, microsoft solution “buy another copy”. yeah whatever, rolled it back to before that crap installed. strangely it works better now.

firewalled the microsoft servers so it can’t get back, nukes auto updates. all as a temp measure. I now have a mac, which frankly probably does *exactly the same thing* the difference being it works. its a legal copy doing something to check its on compliant hardware. i don’t know what and don’t care since it doesn’t bother me.

to date i’ve not had to:

1, phone some script monkey in india to ask permission to use some software I have legally obtained, simply because its had to be reinstalled *again* after bluescreening then refusing the start.

2, spend ages downloading security updates to fix crap that should have been fixed before it was released.

3, had to spend ages locking a browser down to avoid drive-by problems

4, had to reinstall to fix some soft of spyware problem

5, been told to reboot *now* and not really offere a choice because some background update demanded it.

6, had an overnight batch job stopped due to a remote reboot I can’t avoid.

or course its not all plain sailing, i can’t really play games on the mac, didn’t used to much so its not a big problem but age of empires was good.

basically i’ve had to do *zero* maintenance on my mac laptop beyond a few software backups, as opposed to a few hours each week as my windows xp machine was running at.

its taken a bit of getting used to, so if the maintenace time for windows is totalled, and used to ‘cover’ the learning time on the mac i’d say i broke even after a few months.

I hope this guys legal claims get somewhere but i dare say they won’t

Brendan says:

Windows from a programmer's view

All you people that say to switch over to your flavor of Linux because it’s sooooooooooooo much better are morons. Installing programs should not involve recompiling my kernel or any of that other stupid shit that Linux makes you do. Also, the hardware support is still lacking. It’s impossible to get anything done on Linux. It’s only useful for running a server in the case that you don’t want the overhead of all the OS components hogging resources that you need to fulfill the duty of the server. For any consumer and even developer, Windows is by far the best choice. The OS you are using to get your work done should JUST WORK.

Anonymous Coward says:

Computer programmer != Accountant

Casper: His point was that revenue is not the same as profit. You are implying that all of the revenue Microsoft is making off of Vista is profit. What do you think it costs to pay 10K programmers full-time for two to three years? With benefits, perks, overhead, the list goes on and on.

The bottom line is you believe that Microsoft’s profit margin is too high despite the fact that you don’t even know what it is. While we are making crazy speculations, I’ll bet money Apple has a higher profit margin than Microsoft.

For all the people with “brains” that have switched to Linux, the Linux camp has yet to present something that can compete with Windows on a usability level…How long have we been hearing that its only a matter of time before we all jump ship to an open source OS? It is a niche OS and will continue to be one. I’ll bet money most Linux users have a dual boot machine with windows on it so they can use the software that they need that doesn’t work with Linux.

The air up on your pedestal must be getting thin if you believe a “real” computer should be difficult for the average person to use.

Gary says:


Not much of a coder that thinks that Linux requires recompiling the kernel after each package install. This is another example of ignorant people who think they know something about Linux spreading false rumors. Linux is easy to use if you have the right distro. Useful and well-written programs to do practically any generic thing are available from repositories and install in a short time without rebooting or recompiling.

The claim of a lack of hardware support is stupid. Linux supports a broad spectrum of hardware. Only an idiot would buy hardware, then check to see if someone wrote a free driver for it. Of course M$ has the drivers. But you pay dearly unless you’re a thief.

Windows doesn’t JUST WORK. Ask any IT department employee with half a brain.

There are Linux distros that are easier to use than Windows. Of course, if you’re slow and trained to Windows, you will have difficulty using other operating systems. Windows will have ruined you.

The reason software exists that runs only on Windows is that organizations follow the Peter Principle and incompetent leaders buy M$ products and software companies produce software designed only for Windows because M$ is a monopoly, one that many of us must deal with despite the fact that we’d rather not.

Linux does not fill a niche market as evidenced by the fact that its market share is increasing faster with each day.

Billybobdumbarsedwindowsmechanic (user link) says:

Linux does not fill a niche market as evidenced by

Link? Something with emperical numbers please, not some jackleg freebie compensated rag writer’s Opinion, some real published numbers please.

My gut feeling? Linux has came from a gazillionth of a percent to a billionth of a percentin the last 10 years, thats some real fast increasing there geekboy.

Reality says:

Hehehe, I love seeing all the egos at war with one another… After 10 years of working tech-support and web development I have come to realize many things, most profound among them are:

A: Normal people use windows pretty much because they have to, like it or not, they don’t have the time to figure out what flavor of linux suits their needs, and they have at least one work requirement that makes Macs seem less than ideal.

B: Mac users are artsy simpletons, but to their credit they at least recognize that fact and have managed to adopt an operating system that they are capable of using without destroying.

C: Unix/Linux zealots are pompous elitists who basically just enjoy espousing how much they know about something that very few others would even find useful.

D: The people who you should really listen to are the ones who use windows and something else, and who are capable of maintaining a stable healthy XP install with less than an hour of active maintenance per month.

P.S. I’ve always wondered if anyone on techdirt or /. or any other of these tech news sites that allow anon posts actually checks back on these threads to see who has been flaming them after they post? Because I post in these places occasionally, but I never manage to make it back…

Anonymous Coward says:

Additions to 31 Reality

1. Linux is a great desktop operating system and so is OS-X but when I go to install my financial program it is XP only.

2. Linux does not crash like XP does. I have a Red Hat 5.1 system that is still trucking right along. I attempted to start ie turn on my XP system and it went into so sort of uncontrolled download mode which finally crashed the system. Difference in quality and being scamed with something that is controlled by someone else.

3. There are people who believe that if it is not brand X then all sort of evil things will happen and some times they are right.

4. There are some people who if sent out for reeducation would still be as dumb as when they left.

5. Mac users have yet to figure out what a mouse can do since all they have is a one clicker.

claire rand (user link) says:


B: Mac users are artsy simpletons, but to their credit they at least recognize that fact and have managed to adopt an operating system that they are capable of using without destroying.

gave me a chuckle, you _may_ have a point to a degree, but personally i’d say an OS that you can ‘destroy’ in normal usage needs a bit of work. MS are getting there with finally realising that making people run as admin is a bad thing.

the implementation needs a bit of work but hopefully for vista+1 (whatever its called) will sort that issue out

wga wouldn’t be a problem _if it worked right_ pissing legal customers off while the pirates just laugh, since the cracked copies are generally not affected anyway isn’t clever.

I do see the need for MS to ‘do something’ but the way this was done wasn’t it.

Brendan says:

31 and 33

31 is 100% correct in everything he said. I have seen that same trend throughout the years as well.

33: I have had crashes in Linux just as often as they do in XP e.g. I have had programs hang or error out in some weird way. Also, Gnome and KDE are definitely not bug free. You are basically referring to the way they kernel doesn’t crash, and as far as I have seen, I have never had the kernel of XP crash out from underneath me either.

HamDude says:


I’ve read over quite a bit of all this, and it’s kinda funny how so many people seem cut-throat about windows or linux.

Windows users, you need to face the simple fact that linux is getting more and more popular, so get used to people talking about it and telling you it’s better.

Linux users, most people use windows, and more then you think use windows from choice.

I’ve got a dual-boot system that runs both Linux Mandriva, and Windows XP, and I can do the same things on either OS. If I want to play some diablo II, I can play it on windows, or with the right applications and everything configured properly, I can play it on linux.

When it boils down to it, it’s mostly just a matter of which one do you have more use for, or for some, just plain whichever you prefer.

But whatever OS you use, doesn’t make any one else wrong for using another OS. Some people like days, some people like nights, it’s all just preference.

dualboot says:

my $180 at work

I’ve been reading lots of rants one way or another about operating systems, so let me say this: I have a dual-boot tablet pc with Linspire Linux and XP Pro, and a dual-boot desktop with some older version of SuSe Linux (the first one that supported USB) and XP. In addition, I do most of my serious graphic design on a Mac. I haven’t found one “flavor” of ANY operating system that meets all of my needs for various reasons. That said… I can run all of them, correct errors, deal with the blue screen of death, and service the internal workings of my own hardware. All of my software is 100% legal, but WGA failed verification during an update. It wasn’t content to simply prevent me from downloading updates to my REGISTERED LEGAL copy, but rather locked me out at next boot-up saying that I must enter a verification code from MS to finish booting.

1 1/2 hours and a late final report paper later (I should have printed before the reboot… but hind sight is 20/20), I convinced the tech that I in fact owned 2 licenses for 2 machines, and they let me back in to my own system. THIS is something I would call my attorney over if they made me buy a new copy (their first suggestion).

I suspect that this chinese student is strapped for cash, like the rest of us students, and strapped for time due to deadlines, and was forced to spend money in order to get his computer working fast. While my other OS’s won’t do “everything” I need (e.g. work with my tablet stylus despite 4 different drivers I’ve tried), none of them have made me waste time during final exam week calling in and convincing someone that I can legally use my own computer, and access my own documents. (I now have my documents in a shared partition between windows and linux in case I ever have issues with one or the other again.)

I’m all for WGA “IF” it doesn’t lock me out of my own system, but rather simply prevents updates until issues are resolved. As long as I can still turn in my homework on time, I’ll live without the updates.

Brendan says:


#37: You just ruined your entire point by saying:

“If I want to play some diablo II, I can play it on windows, or with the right applications and everything configured properly, I can play it on linux.”

KEY WORDS ARE RIGHT APPLICATIONS AND EVERYTHING CONFIGURED. Notice how on Windows, you don’t have to do shit to get it working. That is why Linux is retarded for being an OS, and Windows makes sense. An OS should require NO maintenance. The point of it is to facilitate getting your work done, not waste time trying to install/configure/compile specific package dependencies in order to get simple programs to work.

zcat says:

Interesting thing..

There was recently a major WGA outage, for something like 19+ hours. And I’m told there have been other minor ones.

About six weeks ago, I was given a better CPU and motherboard, and decided to upgrade my kid’s computer, which normally boots to Ubuntu, but has a completely legal copy of Windows (because, as others have pointed out, many games only run on windows)

It was an interesting exercise in the differences between Ubuntu and Windows. Ubuntu booted moderately well, until it tried to start X. I had expected this and already knew how to reconfigure xserver-xorg, but if I hadn’t known, the question is answered in the Ubuntu wiki and a dozen times a day on the ubuntu IRC channel.

Windows dropped straight into the blue-screen-of-try-unplugging-any-new-hardware-or-reinstalling-your-drivers, which I had also expected. I can’t remember exactly how I fixed this problem, but it was very close to the process of reinstalling Windows from scratch, right down to tracking down drivers and installing them. Drivers that I will point out Ubuntu already had (apart from the NVidia one which was about three clicks away in the restricted-drivers dialog)

And of course, Windows required being reactivated. I expected this. I did not expect that (with a perfectly funtional network connection) Windows would be unable to contact the activation server on three different attempts over the space of about 8 hours. I’m not sure if this was because of the WGA outage that I read about later, or just my ISP’s funky routing. Does it really matter? the fact was, this was a perfectly legal install of Windows, and it was threatening to stop working because of something completely out of my control and none of my fault.

Three days later when I next felt like trying, the machine would not boot into Windows, at all. Just completely hung, I can’t recall if it even displayed the Windows logo. I’m not sure if this is a normal feature if WGA or a bug in Windows, but that’s how it was. I would like to say that I reformatted the space as an ext3 partition and gave it to Linux.. but no. I reinstalled Windows from scratch, repaired GRUB, reisntalled all the drivers which were still conveniently on my mp3 player, and had no trouble activating windows this time around.

So yes, Windows has some games that Linux doesn’t. And if your copy is actually legal you should be able to get it validated, eventually, if you’re happy to sit on hold for an hour or wait three days and perhaps reinstall it from scratch.

I’ve never had problems like that from Ubuntu.

Tim says:

WGA only harms legit users

People with illegal copies of Windows have no problem at all with WGA. It is so easy to hack, and there are many cracks available on the Net.

I had 3-legit copies of XP Pro for my 3 PCs. 1 of them decided to accuse me of using an illegal version. I showed them proof of purchase + scanned a copy of the license. MS wanted me to do countless hours of crap to get it working, to try and prove that I hadn’t installed it elsewhere(which I hadn’t). I said “F* that. I’ll see you in court”.

That obviously got them into action and they apologised and offered me a copy of Vista Business or Home Premium as a “one-off no admission of liability gesture”. I said “No, I have 3 PCs and don’t want mixed OSs and I have the best version of XP, and don’t want a lesser version of Vista. Thanks, but I’ll keep the court appointment.” So they gave me 3 copies of Vista Ultimate(after I proved I had 3 XP Pro licenses).

They obviously don’t want to risk a court case, because I believe under Australian law they’ll get their butts kicked majorly over WGA.

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