Public concerns about Microsoft’s Windows Genuine Advantage software forced the “Redmond Giant” to update their software in order to eliminate the accusations of stealing customers’ private data.
A lawsuit was filed June 26 in U.S. District Court in Seattle, Washington, by a computer user alleging that Microsoft’s Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) software, designed to check the validity of a computer user’s copy of the operating system, violates laws against spyware. This has lead to many public debates about the way this software works and if it invades users’ privacy, some users complaining that it was making frequent contact with Microsoft’s servers.
Microsoft responded promptly denying the accusations and stating that the WGA, composed of two major components, WGA Validation and WGA Notifications, determines whether the copy of Windows XP installed on a PC is genuine and licensed and reminds users who fail validation that they are not running genuine Windows and directs them to resources to learn more about the benefits of using genuine Windows software. The constant Internet traffic that the program makes is due to the checking for a newer settings file which provides Microsoft with the ability to update how often reminders are displayed and to disable the program if necessary during the test period.
Microsoft claims that this operation, which unlike validation, sends system information to Microsoft, is limited to the download of the new settings file and no additional information is sent to Microsoft. Despite that, “as a result of customer concerns around performance” Microsoft has issued an update of the software which only checks for updates once every 14 days.