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Microsoft plans better disclosures of tool that tells them that the copy of WinXP is legal


The Highlander

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Microsoft plans better disclosures of tool that tells them that the copy of WinXP is legal

SEATTLE - Microsoft Corp. acknowledged Wednesday that it needs to better inform users that its tool for determining whether a computer is running a pirated copy of Windows also quietly checks in daily with the software maker. The company said the undisclosed daily check is a safety measure designed to allow the tool, called Windows Genuine Advantage, to quickly shut down in case of a malfunction. For example, if the company suddenly started seeing a rash of reports that Windows copies were pirated, it might want to shut down the program to make sure it wasn't delivering false results.

 

"It's kind of a safety switch," said David Lazar, who directs the Windows Genuine Advantage program.

 

Lazar said the company added the safety measure because the piracy check, despite widespread distribution, is still a pilot program. He said the company was worried that it might have an unforeseen emergency that would require the program to terminate quickly.

 

But he acknowledged that Microsoft should have given users more information about the daily interactions.

 

"We're looking at ways to communicate that in a more forward manner," he said.

 

Lazar also said the company plans to tweak the program soon so that it will only check in with Microsoft every two weeks, rather than daily.

The tool, part of the Redmond company's bid to thwart widespread piracy, is being distributed gradually to people who have signed up to receive Windows security updates. The company expects to have offered it to all users worldwide by the end of the year.

 

Lazar said that so far, about 60 percent of users who were offered the piracy check decided to install it. Once installed, the program checks to make sure the version of Windows a user is running is legitimate, and gathers information such as the computer's manufacturer and the language and locale it is set for.

 

That information-gathering is disclosed in a licensing agreement. But the agreement does not make clear that the program also is designed to "call home" to Microsoft's servers, to make sure that it should keep running.

 

At least every 90 days, the tool also checks again to see if the copy of Windows is legitimate. Lazar said that's because the company sometimes discovers that a copy of Windows that it thought was legitimate is actually pirated.

 

When Microsoft believes a copy of Windows is pirated, the user begins to get a series of reminders that the copy isn't genuine. Such users also are barred from downloading noncritical updates, such as the new version of its Internet Explorer browser. But anyone who has signed up to automatically receive security updates, which repair flaws to prevent Internet attacks, will still get those fixes.

 

Lauren Weinstein, who is co-founder of People for Internet Responsibility and was one of the first people to notice the daily communications to Microsoft, said he understands and sympathizes with Microsoft's desire to control piracy. But he said it's problematic that Microsoft did not disclose all the program's communications with the company.

Weinstein said he also was surprised that Microsoft decided to release so widely a tool that it says is in a "pilot" mode and might need to be suddenly shut down.

 

"Really what you're talking about is someone saying, 'Look we've put something on your computer and it might go screwy, so we're going to kind of check in every day,'" he said

 

 

http://www.microsoft.com/genuine/default.mspx

 

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Just another reason why it's such a pain to use WinXP on 56k.

 

I read the newspaper (hard copy) while eBay downloads.

 

Lynn

 

I ran my XP on a 56k, and it was just plain slow. But then again, 56k IS slow. I got lucky and was able to get broadband a little over 2 years ago. (I live out in the country.) I'll not go back to the days of 56k.

 

You use Windows 98SE. In reality, that is an OS nearly 9 years old. You need to start using your XP machine a little more.

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I ran my XP on a 56k, and it was just plain slow. But then again, 56k IS slow. I got lucky and was able to get broadband a little over 2 years ago. (I live out in the country.) I'll not go back to the days of 56k.

 

You use Windows 98SE. In reality, that is an OS nearly 9 years old. You need to start using your XP machine a little more.

I used to have the Beast on once every couple weeks, minimum, for updates, unless I had it on for something else like burning a CD.

 

Since eBay became banned from the Win98 SE, I have the Beast on once a day. However, I only spend about 15-30 minutes there, rather than an hour or two scattered over the day like I used to.

 

eBay might consider that, instead of force-feeding other auctions by the seller, and other auctions by different sellers with what eBay software considers to be similar items, and huge quantites of seller boilerplate, etc, they might be better off with auctions that download quickly - to keep the potential buyer happy instead of frustrated and angry.

 

Before allowing me to check the new Microsoft downloads, I had to download the Genuine whachamacallit - that's the 4th pre-download in the 15 months I've had the Beast. Does that mean the previous ones keep getting hacked??

 

(I didn't accept the 'critical update' to ascertain if it is a legit copy, figuring they've already done that 4 times in 15 months.)

 

Lynn

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Guest mlpasley

This authentication too is downloaded to any computer that have Automatic Updates turned on.

 

Since Automatic Updates is supposed to protect your computer and fix any errors in Windows, automatically including this update is unnecessary.

 

One wonders what the true purpose of the update is since as Lynn said, they authenticate your copy of Windows BEFORE you download the update. (And they wonder why people are wary of Microsoft)

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I have autoupdate turned OFF.

 

A couple times when I've turned the Beast on in the morning, I didn't get a warning that it was turned off. I immediately went looking to get it turned back OFF.

 

Sorry, I do not have a 24/7 connection, both computers are set to NEVER go online unescorted, and when I go online it is because I want to do something online. I will make time for downloads, and let them run without inturruption, but on 56k, there is no such thing as "background downloading".

 

I do not have RealAudio, beyond a Version that can access audio feeds on the BBC, on the Win98 SE. This is very closely related to the fact RealAudio kept changing the setting to allow it to go online unescorted - opening the way for any other program to go and do likewise.

 

The Beast has something, perhaps WinPlayer, capable of RealAudio. But it doesn't irritate me by demanding downloads. (When the Beast isn't on, it isn't plugged in, either.)

 

Lynn

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I can only imagine that Vista will have stronger antipiracy measures. Wouldn't surprise that Microsoft already has a count of pirated beta versions. I don't find the Geniune Advantage any more irritating as the measures used for most games. They require the original disc to be inserted even if you opted to install the entire disc. This also is to make sure it isn't pirated since most games have heavy copy protection.

 

Other software companies are doing similiar things. TMPGenc products now 'phone home' to validate the registration on a regular basis. We'll probably see more and more of stuff like this.

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Vista has this annoying thing where it can be set (on by default) to ask you almost everytime you want to do something for permission. For instance, I have CA Antivirus on the system I'm testing (one of the few that work with Vista as of now) and when booting up, it has to ask for acceptance 2 times. Want to go into My Computer? Same thing. They suggest you leave this on and for testing, I am but this is made so that administrators can be sure someone isn't messing with certain areas. It's gotten lots of attention in their newsgroups.

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