If you’re looking for deceit and misrepresentation, then those good ole boys at Redmond take a lot of beating. Microsoft Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) has been pushed on customers as a really splendid thing, and I quote:-
“Genuine People, Genuine Stories. Each year, millions of consumers worldwide are victimized by software piracy. In July of 2005, we launched Windows Genuine Advantage to help consumers quickly and easily identify whether their copy of Windows is genuine or not. Since then, WGA has assisted thousands of customers who have discovered that their copy of Windows is not genuine.”
Oh yes! All very genuine I’m sure! Of course anyone with any sense would ask, “Genuine advantage to whom?” If you are foolish enough to believe the hype and actually install the blasted thing then this is the information that Microsoft admits it routinely collects about you and your PC:-
- Computer make and model
- BIOS checksum.
- MAC address. (unique number of your network card)
- A unique number assigned to your computer by the WGA (Globally Unique Identifier or GUID)
- Hard drive serial number.
- Region and language settings of the operating system.
- Operating system version.
- PC BIOS information (make, version, date).
- PC manufacturer.
- User locale setting.
- Validation and installation results.
- Windows or Office product key.
- Windows XP product ID.
Now personally I bitterly resent anyone routinely pilfering data from my machine. But the notion that one is tricked into allowing a foreign corporation in a foreign jurisdiction to do this renders me speechless! Which is one of the many reasons I don’t use Windows any more. But it’s actually far worse than that because WGA can be used to collect all sorts of other data. Moreover it can even be used to disable your machine remotely – so that if Microsoft thinks you are usiing pirate software – or something else it that disapproves of, then it can shut you down – though it claims it has disabled that particular “feature” now! In fact its spyware-like qualities has forced one US citizen to sue Microsoft for invasion of privacy. The suit is ongoing:-
Meantime I just done its new advertising slogan. What to you think?
- “Windows Genuine Advantage, genuinely one of the great lies of our time!“