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Microsoft Sued Over WGA

CowboyNeal posted more than 8 years ago | from the phoning-home dept.

460

Hope Thelps writes "The Seattle PI is reporting on a lawsuit being brought against Microsoft in response to their WGA spyware. Groklaw is also covering the story. Although there are a lot of similarities to Sony's rootkit, the actual harm done is less concrete. It'll be interesting to see how this turns out."

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About time (1, Insightful)

Photon Ghoul (14932) | more than 8 years ago | (#15633397)

Got tired of waiting for this to happen.

Re:About time (2, Informative)

bcat24 (914105) | more than 8 years ago | (#15633418)

Amen to that! Maybe someday Microsoft will realize that WGA doesn't prevent piracy; it's just another thing to annoy legitimate users.

OK, I guess that's not going to happen anytime soon. Oh well, I can dream, right?

Re:About time (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15633434)

Wow. a worthless comment right after a story was posted? What on earth would be your motivation for that1?

I, for one, am psychic (1)

melvin xavier (942849) | more than 8 years ago | (#15633729)

Behold! I foresaw the future! And the future is lawsuits against Microsoft!

http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=187839&cid=154 93469 [slashdot.org]

Wait, wait, vision in my third eye is clearing: I see, Microsoft is going to lose. And yet, losing major litigation still won't stop them from spying on folks.

Interesting... (5, Insightful)

Utopia (149375) | more than 8 years ago | (#15633409)

Sued by the same moneymonger who sued Sony.

Re:Interesting... (5, Insightful)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 8 years ago | (#15633438)

Frankly I don't care who's suing them. I hope that many people jump on the bandwagon to sue them. I would like to see them fight it out to the end, instead of taking a settlement. I want a verdict against Microsoft. Something that stops them or other companies from doing things like this in the future. However, most people are only after the money, and hence will just take a settlement. Nobody is in it because they think MS is a bunch of assholes and should pay.

Re:Interesting... (0, Flamebait)

Marthisdil (606679) | more than 8 years ago | (#15633495)

Thing is - why is this so bad? You don't think a company has a RIGHT to defend their product and protect their interests?

Ya know, if no one out there in the world pirated software, I betcha this stuff wouldn't be in...

But hey, guess the obvious is too easy for retards like you to see...bet you run illegal copies of software too.

My copy is legit (-1, Troll)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 8 years ago | (#15633604)

And I still don't like spyware. Thanks for reminding me why I don't boot Windows. Microsoft is a lot more tactful about it than you, but they're basically saying the same thing. Microsoft: -1 Flamebait, Troll, Spyware...

Re:Interesting... (5, Insightful)

tomstdenis (446163) | more than 8 years ago | (#15633632)

The problem is all these measures MSFT takes hurt legitimate users.

For instance, I recently acquired a work laptop that had to be re-imaged. The laptop came with a WinXp Pro license but it was from an OEM [Fujitsu]. Now I don't have the Fujitsu CD anymore so I used my own XP Pro cd. Guess what happens? It won't let me activate it. I had to call MSFT and explain to them [after doing the 10 6-digit number thing TWICE] that I was a legitimate user who had to use generic install media.

I bet you there are scores of similar people who fight against the anti-piracy stuff to use software that they did indeed pay for.

Besides, if MSFT is dropping this that and the other thing from Vista, maybe they don't have time to be messing with DAILY WGA updates? How about they use my hard earned money to improve the damn OS and not try to lock paying customers out of it.

Tom

Re:Interesting... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15633642)

Thing is - why is this so bad? You don't think a company has a RIGHT to defend their product and protect their interests?

The problem is, it doesn't help prevent piracy much really. It stops a few of the people who just don't really know what they are doing (say someone who had their PC upgraded by the kid next door or something) but that's about it. The real pirates have a myriad of ways of going around such a thing, not the least of which being to simply not ever use it or to use a hacked version of it. In the grand scheme of things, the only thing WGA has really achieved is to cost MS a bit more to deploy it than they've gained on those few people who actually bought legitimate copies because of it and annoy everyone (not just pirates, but, legitimate users as well.)

Ya know, if no one out there in the world pirated software, I betcha this stuff wouldn't be in...
Yeah, and if everyone drove slowly those speed limit signs wouldn't be up. We're humans, not robots.

But hey, guess the obvious is too easy for retards like you to see...bet you run illegal copies of software too.
Obvious? Yeah, uhm, I looked at the timestamps, and this post came before yours:
Amen to that! Maybe someday Microsoft will realize that WGA doesn't prevent piracy; it's just another thing to annoy legitimate users.
What's obvious to most of us "nerds" is that it has caused a lot of problems for a lot of people, violated privacy, and just in general been an annoyance whether you have a legal copy or not. If you had read any of the previous articles on the subject of the WGA, you would see quite a number of stories where someone has had to deal with the WGA determining that their 100% legitimate copy was illegitimate and they had to go through a long hassle with microsoft to get a new key and everything to get it to work. But, I guess that's only obvious to us nerds.

Re:Interesting... (2, Interesting)

Skreems (598317) | more than 8 years ago | (#15633748)

Here's the thing, though... users who pirate Windows and really know what they're doing are a small percentage of the "piracy" market. Far greater are the number of people who are sold a PC with a pre-installed copy of Windows that they believe is legitimate, but isn't. By first displaying warnings, and then turning off their PC entirely, Microsoft is encouraging (with ever more stringent means) these people to rat out the people who sold them the illegal software.

That's my take on it anyway. I've heard several places that they make way more money on OEM sales than they do on in-store sales to individuals, so it seems to make sense.

Re:Interesting... (5, Insightful)

Atraxen (790188) | more than 8 years ago | (#15633512)

Personally, I'm more interested in seeing justice served than a particular outcome (i.e., Microsoft getting slapped). That's how the game is supposed to work. If we don't like the outcome, we need to examine the rules. Calling for particular outcomes against someone because you don't like them/their approach to X/their politics is the root of partisan politics/hackery, and so (while you may agree with what I'm saying broadly, but were speaking from frustration with MS), I'm calling you on it.

Re:Interesting... (4, Insightful)

Zemran (3101) | more than 8 years ago | (#15633657)

Would you care if it was someone paid to put a bad case forward knowing that when it fails they can say 'look how good we are' and anyone else will think twice before taking similar action?

Re:Interesting... (4, Funny)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | more than 8 years ago | (#15633674)

Me too. I love when lawyers teach people a lesson by getting rich.

Re:Interesting... (1)

troll -1 (956834) | more than 8 years ago | (#15633705)

Frankly I don't care who's suing them. I hope that many people jump on the bandwagon to sue them. I would like to see them fight it out to the end, instead of taking a settlement.

The accusation is only that Microsoft didn't adequately disclose details of the tool ... The bitter end, after Microsoft has spent a fortune on lawyers, will likey be that they must be more upfront about WGA. Noting more.

In other news Jack Kevorkian sues dev of "killall" (5, Funny)

Netw0rkAssh0liates (544345) | more than 8 years ago | (#15633744)

Frankly I don't care who's suing them. I hope that many people jump on the bandwagon to sue them. I would like to see them fight it out to the end, instead of taking a settlement. I want a verdict against Microsoft. Something that stops them or other companies from doing things like this in the future. However, most people are only after the money, and hence will just take a settlement. Nobody is in it because they think MS is a bunch of assholes and should pay.


In other news, Jack Kevorkian sued the developers of the POSIX-compliant 'NUX commandline program "killall", citing that the application didn't really kill "all" the programs on the computer but instead should be renamed to "killnothingbut". This intellectual Advantage(TM) of Kevorkian stemmed from his introduction of the oft'quoted uber-leet commandline tool "kevork" which injects null pointers into the code and data segments of all programs that are non-responsive to the "TERM" and "KILL" flags. Kevorkian was unable for comment on whether this is a closed or open-source application, though it was rumoured by his assistant that it is a simple library replacement with a namely-fassioned symlink to killall that the library determines based at runtime with argv.

Sincerily,
John "kill'em'all" Dahmer

Re:Interesting... (2, Informative)

wbren (682133) | more than 8 years ago | (#15633473)

Wait... so he's selling [reference.com] money?

Re:Interesting... (5, Insightful)

killjoe (766577) | more than 8 years ago | (#15633692)

When you are trying to get money from a large corporation you are a moneymonger. When you are trying to get money from consumers you are a capitalist.

Waste of time (5, Insightful)

p!ssa (660270) | more than 8 years ago | (#15633430)

whoopie, M$ loses and donates another $1,000,000.00 worth of software to some high school system or third world country as retribution (at a cost of about 35 cents to the evil empire).

Not hidden, not spyware (2, Informative)

od05 (915556) | more than 8 years ago | (#15633433)

It came as a Windows Update, if you wanted to protect yourself you should have turned automatic updates off...

Re:Not hidden, not spyware (3, Informative)

snark42 (816532) | more than 8 years ago | (#15633449)

I told Windows to download and not install updates, this one installed itself. On another machine I had notify only, and it downloaded and installed this one as well, even rebooted without my approval. It was not a typical update.

Re:Not hidden, not spyware (3, Informative)

edwdig (47888) | more than 8 years ago | (#15633539)

I've got my machine set to notify only, and it never installed it. I told it not to install it, and it asked if it wanted me to not be shown the update again. I said yes, and it stopped showing it. It only comes back in the update list if there's a new version of WGA - or at least every time it's reappeared, it happened to coincide with a Slashdot story saying MS changed something about WGA.

Re:Not hidden, not spyware (4, Informative)

malakai (136531) | more than 8 years ago | (#15633544)

Call BS on this one.

I would have seen that behavior on one of hundreds of PCs. I have not.

You're either posting for FUD, or your machine isnt' configured how you think it is.

Or the problem is between the keyboard and the chair.

Re:Not hidden, not spyware (2, Informative)

snark42 (816532) | more than 8 years ago | (#15633619)

I double checked the configuration when I saw the "shutdown to install upgrades" option... and the machine that rebooted itself claimed to be configured to notify only. Could be user error, no way to really prove it now.

Re:Not hidden, not spyware (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15633556)

Dubious. I've got two XP machines with updates set to notify only, and it gives me the option to install WGA, and when unticked it goes away and doesn't bother me again for another month.

Re:Not hidden, not spyware (1)

Korin43 (881732) | more than 8 years ago | (#15633569)

I have automatic updates turned on (with download first then ask before install), and the only annoyance is that I have to uncheck it every time I update. It's not that difficult though, and it definately asks before it installs.

Re:Not hidden, not spyware (1)

JorDan Clock (664877) | more than 8 years ago | (#15633610)

Ummm... What? I've got the little automatic update notifier in my tray and guess what the only update is? WGA. It has yet to make my machine reboot. Perhaps your machine rebooted after the download was finished for some other reason and the update was applied then.

Re:Not hidden, not spyware (3, Interesting)

enosys (705759) | more than 8 years ago | (#15633644)

I have Windows update set to download and then prompt before installing. WGA did not auto-install itself. However, the KB900485 [microsoft.com] update [microsoft.com] did install itself without prompting. I just found out about it from the shutdown message. One friend said that it also installed without prompting on his computer. I did a search and found that it installed for some other people too.

Re:Not hidden, not spyware (1)

RedACE7500 (904963) | more than 8 years ago | (#15633460)

Next you'll tell us that it was OUR choice to use Windows in the first place so it's our fault?

Re:Not hidden, not spyware (4, Insightful)

kebes (861706) | more than 8 years ago | (#15633476)

It came as a Windows Update, if you wanted to protect yourself you should have turned automatic updates off...
I'm not sure that arguments works. After all, for spyware one could argue "You installed the application (or clicked yes or whatever), if you wanted to protect yourself you should have not installed it." For some spyware/adware/malware, the EULA even indicates that "additional software" will be installed. It is buried in documentation, but the information is there. This doesn't prevent it from being spyware/malware or whatever. The fact is that when something is installed in a circuitous or obfuscated way, it is not really what the user agreed to.

In the case of Windows Updates, I would argue that it is even more out of the user's control. For alot of malware, you have to click "yes install" at some point. For Windows Updates, the recommended state is to "automatically download and install in the background." In theory a user could examine each and every update to figure out what they all do, but in practise the actual purpose of each update is heavily obfuscated. Worse yet, in the case of WGA, once you allow it to install (it seems innocent enough at first), it is used against you to force further installations.

Frankly the tactic Microsoft is using in their updates is not ethical. Everyone is told to do their Windows Updates (for security reasons), and Microsoft is exploiting this to slip in some other software that the user does not necessarily need. Worse yet, this software sends back information to Microsoft HQ without user permission. If this does not count as spyware, I don't know what does.

I hope this lawsuit makes Microsoft wake up to the illegitimacy of their tactics.

Re:Not hidden, not spyware (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15633786)

Frankly the tactic Microsoft is using in their updates is not ethical. ... I hope this lawsuit makes Microsoft wake up to the illegitimacy of their tactics.

How is it different than the rider game of Congress? Since that's an accepted American practice, I don't expect people to make much fuss over WGA.

Re:Not hidden, not spyware (2, Insightful)

kevlarman (983297) | more than 8 years ago | (#15633503)

How is this different from how people normally get spyware? With the default configuration of your browser you go to some website that you (probably wrongly) trust, and something is installed on your computer without your knowledge. In this case, it's the default configuration of windows, and the "website" is Microsoft. You could argue all you want that you should have turned of ActiveX/not installed flash/used firefox instead of IE, but that doesn't prevent it from being spyware, so how does the fact that this is windows update change anything?

Re:Not hidden, not spyware (1)

daranz (914716) | more than 8 years ago | (#15633513)

TFA states that the reason for the lawsuit is the fact that MS doesn't fully disclose what exactly the WGA tool does. Microsoft's description of the tool does not state that the tool will in fact report back to MS via the Internet, only that it will check the installation of windows and display a message if it find it non-"genuine." The user is not informed of what exactly the tool does, even if he has to consent to the installation of the tool.

Re:Not hidden, not spyware (1)

echodots (707152) | more than 8 years ago | (#15633627)

lol... I saw that I had an update ready to install and I was going to install it until I checked out groklaw and saw this news. Now I'm like darn, I should have turned off the auto updater when i had a chance to.

I'm still not installing it though.

Hopefully.... (5, Insightful)

meh13579 (975202) | more than 8 years ago | (#15633437)

win or lose this will deter Microsoft from using wga to shut down any unlicensed (or otherwise) computers...for a while at least.

Re:Hopefully.... (1)

MeanMF (631837) | more than 8 years ago | (#15633455)

What would be the problem with shutting down unlicensed computers?

Re:Hopefully.... (3, Interesting)

RedACE7500 (904963) | more than 8 years ago | (#15633469)

Since when do we need a licence to use a computer?

Re:Hopefully.... (5, Insightful)

bcat24 (914105) | more than 8 years ago | (#15633472)

You don't. You do need a license to run Windows on that computer, though. (Yeah, it sucks, but it's true.)

Re:Hopefully.... (3, Informative)

user32.ExitWindowsEx (250475) | more than 8 years ago | (#15633536)

actually, no.

17 usc 117 provides you with all the legal right you need to make all copies needed to actually *use* the application...you don't need a license from microsoft to "copy" windows to run it.

i'm not a lawyer, but i can read.

(a) Making of Additional Copy or Adaptation by Owner of Copy.-- Notwithstanding the provisions of section 106, it is not an infringement for the owner of a copy of a computer program to make or authorize the making of another copy or adaptation of that computer program provided: (1) that such a new copy or adaptation is created as an essential step in the utilization of the computer program in conjunction with a machine and that it is used in no other manner, or (2) that such new copy or adaptation is for archival purposes only and that all archival copies are destroyed in the event that continued possession of the computer program should cease to be rightful.

Re:Hopefully.... (1)

KarmaMB84 (743001) | more than 8 years ago | (#15633614)

It does say owner which generally means you have to be licensed (you don't own the actual program really). If you have a licensed copy, you can make all the copies you want of the disc as long as you don't make unauthorized use of it. Nobody's had the balls to go up against MS over their EULA or licensing so that means whatever is in the EULA or license for now.

Re:Hopefully.... (1)

user32.ExitWindowsEx (250475) | more than 8 years ago | (#15633629)

It says "owner of a copy", not "owner of the copyright" or anything like that. That seems clear to me.

Re:Hopefully.... (1)

shodai (970706) | more than 8 years ago | (#15633501)

The "problem" is that the software, like everything else M$, is crap, and says that legit users aren't running a legit copy.
I really, really hope that a large business is screwed by this WGA BS and sues M$ for an amount that actually affects them.

Re:Hopefully.... (1)

enosys (705759) | more than 8 years ago | (#15633696)

I'm pretty sure that shutting down unlicensed copies of Windows would be legally risky. I'm sure that their program couldn't be 100% accurate and so some properly licensed copies would be shut down. They'd probably be liable for damages for this. It might even be criminal, like gaining unauthorised access to a computer. Even shutting down unlicensed copies may be dangerous legally. It might be okay if they display obvious warning messages for a month and then shut them down, but I'm not sure.

I remember a case where a company accessed a client's system and disabled some software they wrote because the client didn't pay them. I think they got in trouble for that. I wish I could find the link now.

Hmm... (4, Funny)

Cytlid (95255) | more than 8 years ago | (#15633454)

"I just only wish there was an alternative..." typed the man in his slashdot repsonse on his Linux workstation.

Re:Hmm... (1)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 8 years ago | (#15633525)

Yeah, really. Something like Ubuntu is good enough for most users with broadband (I don't know about Linux dial-up internet providers....) and so is OpenOffice for a lot of things.

I understand if you absolutely have to use Windows for work, but even at home you can dual-boot. Before people trot out the games argument - yes, I know, but it really depends where your priorities are at. Games aren't my prioritiy, I might buy a Wii for that.

But instead, people will bitch and complain endlessly and keep using Windows...

Re:Hmm... (1)

Baloo Ursidae (29355) | more than 8 years ago | (#15633572)

Something like Ubuntu is good enough for most users with broadband (I don't know about Linux dial-up internet providers....)

(-1, Moron): How can you find slashdot and complete miss that dialup ISPs use PPP, and Linux distros almost always come with pppd?

Re:Hmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15633649)

I think GP was referring to the fact that on Ubuntu, everything has to be downloaded. It would be POSSIBLE over dialup, but definately less than ideal.

I'd go on, but I've been drinking scotch and have told myself to not post after drinking scotch.

Re:Hmm... (1)

Ajehals (947354) | more than 8 years ago | (#15633660)

Actually he had a point if you are going to update your OS in any meaningful way (say a dist upgrade) or use whatever the Ubuntu front end for apt is. I know I wouldn't be half as happy using Debian on a dial up connection just from a getting new software and updates / upgrades point of view. I know there are alternatives but it is one of the great features of the whole Linux thing just to install software on demand from a centralised packet manager.

As far as setting up a dial up connection within Ubuntu, I assume its as easy as it is in any other distro if you are using a desktop environment, and shouldn't pose any major problems (some modems aside).

As such your comment may have been a tad harsh. - note I am not referring to you as a moron - simply putting my view across. Thanks

Re:Hmm... (1)

Baloo Ursidae (29355) | more than 8 years ago | (#15633793)

The OP implied that Linux support for dialup internet connections was dicey, when in fact it's not. Nobody's doubting that dialup is slow.

Re:Hmm... (1)

codehead78 (452976) | more than 8 years ago | (#15633591)

...while recompiling his graphics drivers for the lastest kernel...

I kid.

Re:Hmm... (2, Insightful)

Ryan Mallon (689481) | more than 8 years ago | (#15633717)

Comments like these are getting somewhat annoying on Slashdot these days. Everytime Microsoft does something bad or some fault in Windows is found, somebody has to stick their hand up and say "We should all just switch to Linux". As much as I like Linux, this is like saying "we found some minor fault with apples so we should all just eat oranges instead".

Linux is not a viable replacement for Windows in all situations (especially on the desktop), if it were then it would have been coming preinstalled on home machines for a while now. The zealots can make all the excuses they like: "you can play your Windows games with Wine", "ogg's are so much better than mp3's", "nautilus is way easier to use than explorer", etc, but Windows does do many of these things better. The average Joe wants his computer to just work, and while Linux is getting better all the time Windows is still leaps and bounds ahead in many areas. I'm running Fedora Core with Gnome at home (cue "my distro is better" statements). After doing an install I have to do extra work to get proper support for my NVidia card and be able to play mp3's (both of which required using a console). If I run a KDE app it takes about 5 times as long as a Gnome one to load. I understand the reasons for these and other problems (most of which are not directly the fault of Linux), but how do I explain this to Joe Average?

Even though I am capable of setting Linux up as a desktop system (Im doing a Masters in Computer Science), I use WinXP as a desktop system and Linux for working on my Masters. That way I don't have to jump through hoops to play the few games I have, share files over a local network with my flatmate (who is also running XP) and run audio software like Soundforge and Acid. Why should I piss around with configuration files, downloading drivers, crossing my fingers and hoping apps run in Wine or putting up with half-pie open source attempts when Windows does all this flawlessly?

Part of the problem is Microsoft's market share; why should people switch to an unfamiliar Linux environment when they are everyone else they know is already using a perfectly good operating system. The geeks may have a problem with the various DRM features of Windows, but the average Joe (the same guy who thinks downloading Bonzi Buddy is a good idea) doesn't give a shit. I think that whether we like or not, Linux is a geeks operating system and Windows is for all those who just want a computer in their living room for browsing teh interwebs, reading email, watching movies and burning cds. People (in general) aren't going to stop buying Windows and switch to Linux because of this, just like they didn't stop buying Sony CDs after the rootkit fiasco. It doesn't make it right and I would like to see companies like Sony and Microsoft be taken to task properly over shit like this, but I don't see it happening and I certainly don't see Linux being the answer, at least not yet.

The Issue Of Money (2, Interesting)

thecommenter (985914) | more than 8 years ago | (#15633463)

So what exactly are they going to sue for, like 1/30000th of Microsoft's money? This is why no one can ever successfully sue Microsoft.

Turn & drop trowsers please (5, Funny)

HotBlackDessiato (842220) | more than 8 years ago | (#15633467)

How can an official component of Windows be spyware? It's their operating system, they allready own you if you use it. Pull down your pants and get it over with allready.

Re:Turn & drop trowsers please (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15633625)

If I develop great software today, who says that it can't be hacked, modified tomorrow? The Software business is EVER changing and evolving and as developers we need to keep up with it.

You Bet, I'd try like hell to keep my interests involved anyway I can to keep my trade secret within my organization, and therefore I can't blame M$ for turning off people that do not legally register.

Now for the other 27% that are not registered with their product, and you get turned off - get mad, have fun, goto MAC or LINUX, or buy a copy of windoze. If I were in M$ shoes, if I'm not keeping up with the changes, sure as hell I'd try to retain my business, learn from my mistakes and move on. Sure it'll cost me now, but perhaps next time I'll be proactive and this mistake won't happen again.

Everytime one is trying to please too many people, one ends up SOL. Hey Mr. Balmer its okay not to please everyone.......really.

Re:Turn & drop trowsers please (1)

no_barcode (840948) | more than 8 years ago | (#15633738)

Already lubed up, thank you very much.

Microsoft's Response (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15633468)

A Microsoft spokesman, Jim Desler, agreed with the allegations. "Spyware is deceptive software that is installed on a user's computer without the user's consent and has some malicious purpose," Desler said.

Well, actually he claims to have disputed the allegations, but then he said what's quoted above, and finally (to the press corp's horror and astonishment), proceeded to shove his entire foot, ankle, and leg (up to his knee), firmly down his own throat.

Let's break this down:

[x] Deceptive software...check!

[x] Installed without user's consent...check! (Well, basically with as much consent as any other spyware package, so I think there's a good case to be made for this point.)

[x] Malicious purpose...check! It beams data back to the mothership every day and can be used to remotely break the computer. I think that qualifies as "malicious."

So apparently by Microsoft's own admission, WGA is spyware.

I'd personally argue for a more expansive definition of spyware (or malware, or scumware, etc...), but even given the relatively constrained definition proposed by Microsoft itself, WGA seems to qualify.

I recall a full disclosure and ... (2, Informative)

mikefocke (64233) | more than 8 years ago | (#15633509)

Clear notice that this was an optional install. I could have elected not to install it and had my machine function as before. I had to read a statement and check a box saying I understood and agreed.

We can argue the merits of the actual software that is installed.

Re:I recall a full disclosure and ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15633655)

that is not exactly true if the user has automatic updates running.

Re:I recall a full disclosure and ... (2, Informative)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | more than 8 years ago | (#15633706)

I could have elected not to install it and had my machine function as before.

It misrepresented itself as a critical security update, according to reports, so what do you think the average user would do? (assuming that they run updates at all).

How do Microsoft Programmers sleep at night? (4, Funny)

jonr (1130) | more than 8 years ago | (#15633475)

A: On a pile of money.

Re:How do Microsoft Programmers sleep at night? (1)

kimvette (919543) | more than 8 years ago | (#15633527)

Do you actually KNOW any Microsoft programmers?

The ones who got in early and are now in middle to upper manager may be rolling in dough, but the programmers doing the gruntwork are not.

Is the bias necessary? (2, Insightful)

Jackmn (895532) | more than 8 years ago | (#15633482)

Is '... in response to their WGA spyware' really necessary? Provide the information and let the readers make up their minds.

Re:Is the bias necessary? (2, Funny)

shodai (970706) | more than 8 years ago | (#15633524)

You seem to have missed the bandwagon.

Turn around boys, we missed one!

Re:Is the bias necessary? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15633532)

Provide the information and let the readers make up their minds.

Just like Microsoft did several months back when they installed an update that contacted Microsoft every time you turned the computer on, right? Which was buggy and told quite a few users that they had to buy a new copy of windows when in fact the copy they were using was perfectly valid, right?

Stooping to their level might not be the best way to win an argument, but damn it's a satisfying one.

No harm, no foul (1, Troll)

lseltzer (311306) | more than 8 years ago | (#15633508)

>> the actual harm done is less concrete...

No shit, there's no harm done at all.

I see considerable harm... (4, Insightful)

kebes (861706) | more than 8 years ago | (#15633580)

1. WGA communicates with Microsoft HQ. The information transferred may or may not be 'sensitive' but this could be considered an invasion of privacy.

2. Any program that uses up system ressources without performing a task explicitly requested by the user is harmful in the sense that it slows down the computer. This is one of the main complaints with spyware/adware: they slow down your computer for no purpose (or at least no purpose that you, the user, are interested in).

3. WGA appears to effectively give someone else (specifically Microsoft) control over your machine (for instance the recently announced "remote shutoff" function). To the user, a program that limits their control of the computer (and gives someone else more control) is harmful. Note that the argument "but Microsoft would only shut off illegitimate versions of Windows" doesn't make any difference. Even if that's true, there is still a loss of control for the user. This is harmful to the user.

To the same extent that any other piece of so-called "spyware" is harmful (installed in a tricky way; sends info back to some company; wastes CPU cycles and disk space; etc.), WGA should also be considered "harmful."

The problem with WGA is that is not an update, security-patch, or feature upgrade. It does *nothing* for the user, and only installs in order to give Microsoft more control/leverage over your machine. From the user perspective, it is a net negative, hence harmful.

Re:No harm, no foul - LMFAO (1)

Zemran (3101) | more than 8 years ago | (#15633701)

No shit, there's no harm done at all.

sniff, sniff, sniff, fee fie foe fum, I smell the blood of a troll...

jokes? I love jokes (5, Funny)

MrSquirrel (976630) | more than 8 years ago | (#15633510)

Hey, at least the Sony rootkit comes with music!... this thing comes with worse: Windows!

Re:jokes? I love jokes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15633560)

Depending on the artist, it's debatable as to whether Sony media actually comes with "music."

WGA Facts (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15633511)

1. WGA' semen cures cancer. Too bad he has AIDS.

2. WGA does not sleep. He lies awake in regret.

3. WGA is currently suing ABC, claiming Hope & Faith are trademarked names for his left and right breasts.

4. The chief export of WGA is diarrhea.

5. If you can see WGA, he can see you. If you can't see Chuck Norris, you may not realize how much he's actually aged.

6. WGA attempted to count to infinity. Backwards. He didn't know where to start.

7. WGA does not hunt because the word hunting implies the chance of success. WGA wanders around aimlessly with a gun.

8. WGA' blood type is AK-47. The gun. It is compatible only with bullets. Chuck Norris is full of holes.

9. WGA is 1/8th Grand Cherokee. This has nothing to do with ancestry, the man drives a fucking Jeep.

10. In fine print on the last page of the Farmers' Almanac it notes that annual rainfall figures do not include the tears shed by WGA, and the figures listed in the book are simply the closest anyone has gotten to subtracting out such overwhelming excess.

Sadly, the only people who will win in the end.... (-1, Redundant)

8127972 (73495) | more than 8 years ago | (#15633514)

.... Are the lawyers.

Re:Sadly, the only people who will win in the end. (1)

edwdig (47888) | more than 8 years ago | (#15633558)

Either way, we lose. I think I'd rather have the lawyers win than Microsoft win.

in the words of Kipling (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15633694)

...No indeed! We are not strong,
        But we know Peoples that are.
Yes, and we'll guide them along,
        To smash and destroy you in War!
We shall be slaves just the same?
        Yes, we have always been slaves,
But you--you will die of the shame,
        And then we shall dance on your graves!

from "A Pict Song" by Rudyard Kipling
http://whitewolf.newcastle.edu.au/words/authors/K/ KiplingRudyard/verse/p3/pictsong.html [newcastle.edu.au]

I'm confused (2, Funny)

mark-t (151149) | more than 8 years ago | (#15633549)

Since when does Microsoft have spies in the World Golf Association?

DOH!

Oh... was I supposed RTFA? But wait... this is slashdot.

Numbers (0, Flamebait)

headkase (533448) | more than 8 years ago | (#15633592)

Windows belongs to Microsoft and they are out to make a profit. Financialy making Windows unauthorized use difficult could add a few percent to a pie chart somewhere thereby justifying Windows Genuine Advantage checking.

So, if you're a pirate you can either deal with all the contractual obligations found in the proprietary world or adapt to a F/OSS world where software such as registration/access checks simply do not have a logical place.

Also wishing Windows (XP Pro $399CAD here) was not so un-free.

Re:Numbers (1)

Twanfox (185252) | more than 8 years ago | (#15633669)

The issue arises when, interestingly enough, WGA declares that a legitimate and wholly legally used copy of Windows is not legitimate. In a case where this happens, and there are times and pleanty of reported cases where it happens, there is significant harm to the user who bought and paid for a program and expects it to continue to work. Just because a computer (which is an inherantly stupid entity) decides that your copy is not legit is not sufficient justification for removing access to properly licensed copy of Windows.

Re:Numbers (1)

Zemran (3101) | more than 8 years ago | (#15633759)

You talk about contractual obligation and yet ignore the contractual obligation that Microsoft make to the user. They provide software for a given use and more and more we see how unfit for that use it is. This is another example. Just like with Sony, this tool can and will be used by those unfriendly people to do harm. It does often do harm to the legitimate user who because their user registration has been used by some internet cafe in Asia find they cannot use their PC, and as soon as a tool is released to access the functions with bad intent (not difficult so soon) your PC will be at more risk and why? Because rather than honour their contractual obligation to provide a secure and reliable OS as they say in their press releases they would rather provide an insecure OS that they can use to do harm to others because they are more paranoid than proffessional.

I own 10 legitimate copies of Windows but I used a warez copy to install because I cannot be bothered with all the hassles that Microsoft make their customers suffer. For my own use I use SuSE but my customers do not like Linux so I have to have Windows. I do not think that Windows should ever be allowed near the internet so WGA is a mote point to me but for others the problems will be real.

WGA unable to detect bad keys with legit COAs (5, Interesting)

steve426f (746013) | more than 8 years ago | (#15633603)

I'm sure that I'm not the only one who hates all of the BS you get when you buy a new laptop/desktop. First thing I've always done with my Dell laptops/desktops is format, reinstall xp + linux. However, I got frustrated with the activation when I didn't always internet or the activation insisted i make a 30 minute call to MSFT to get a rediculously long key. Long story short, I used the ever-so-famous corporate copy + key (generated with keygen) even though I have XP Pro COAs on the systems. Now, a few years down the road WGA is going to force me to reinstall--now that I have many important business apps installed. How many others are in the situation of "invalid keys" with legit COA licenses?

Re:WGA unable to detect bad keys with legit COAs (1)

Brigadier (12956) | more than 8 years ago | (#15633733)


I wish I had a link but there is a way to reset windows into thinking it's a fresh install, then typing in a new serial and activation key. Do a little searching at the same place you got the keygen. Or you coudl just do liek me and kill the XP partition and learn to live soley on Linux.

Re:WGA unable to detect bad keys with legit COAs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15633795)

+1
Hours of wasted time and labor due to this.
M$=Fail

Remove WGA (5, Informative)

cciRRus (889392) | more than 8 years ago | (#15633608)

Just thought that you guys might wanna know that Microsoft has came up with an article on removing WGA [microsoft.com] .

Re:Remove WGA (1)

OmegaBlac (752432) | more than 8 years ago | (#15633710)

FTA you posted:
This article applies to the version of Microsoft Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) Notifications that is distributed during the pilot program. For example, this version is included in the pre-release version that accompanies the Microsoft Software License Terms. To safely and easily uninstall the pilot version, you must install the general release version of WGA Notifications. If you do not install this version, you can follow the steps in this article to disable or uninstall the pilot version.
Emphasis mine.

That KB article does not pertain to the current/newer version of WGA being distributed right now--only the earlier version.

Good... (2, Informative)

HTL2001 (836298) | more than 8 years ago | (#15633609)

I mean, I'd be just a little less bad (WGA) if it worked properly. I've seen most of my old HS's comps get the "not genuine" notice, and it takes a while to fix.

How is this evil at all? (2, Interesting)

Ethan Allison (904983) | more than 8 years ago | (#15633622)

Here's a description of what the tool does.
Computer with WGA: Hi, Mr. Remote Database!
Microsoft Server: What can I do for you?
Computer with WGA: Is this computer running a legitimate copy of Windows? The license# is ABCDE-12345-FGHIJ-67890-KLMNO.
Scenario: Copy is licensed
Microsoft Server: Let's see... yep, it's licensed!
Computer with WGA: Alright then!
Microsoft Server: Bye!
Scenario: Copy is licensed
Microsoft Server: Let's see... nope, this one's pirated.
Computer with WGA: Well then.
Computer with WGA: Hey $username, you don't have a legitimate license. Please go buy one.
What's wrong with that? If you pirated the software, then why should you have any right for it to work?

Re:How is this evil at all? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15633672)

You forgot the part right after where it sends the key number where it sends a list of applications loaded on your system and your hardware configuration.

Re:How is this evil at all? (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 8 years ago | (#15633681)

You forgot:
Scenario: Copy is licensed - you're staring at the box and receipt on your desk - but the stupid activation is b0rked yet again
Microsoft Server: Let's see... nope, this one's pirated.
Computer with WGA: Well then.
Computer with WGA: Black screen of uselessness until you spend three hours on the phone getting another code from MS's tech "support", all the while continuously explaining to your boss that no, the server's not back up yet and you don't know when it will be.

That's the one that most of us here dread.

What if the copy *was* legitimate? link (2, Informative)

geerbox (855203) | more than 8 years ago | (#15633683)

http://news.com.com/5208-1029-0.html?forumID=1&thr eadID=18274&messageID=157697&start=-16 [com.com]

With the possibility of barring access to Windows...

http://it.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=06/06/29/165 7241 [slashdot.org]

... then how much of downtime must a user suffer from this?

Re:How is this evil at all? (1)

Renraku (518261) | more than 8 years ago | (#15633699)

Micr0soft Server: You're pirated. Sorry. Please format all connected physical drives.

Corporate Internal Computer Not Locked Down Like It Should Be with WGA: k. but I didn't really ask you if I were valid..

Micr0soft Server: Would I lie? Oh, and send me some bank accounts.

Corporate Internal Computer Not Locked Down Like It Should Be with WGA: Guess not. Here goes nothing!

Pimply Faced Hacker: And another one bites the dust.

Re:How is this evil at all? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15633700)

You answered that yourself. In both scenarios the copy was licensed. I know that was a typo, but seriously, there have already been people reporting false positives and Microsoft still has no response for them except "go buy Windows".

Re:How is this evil at all? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15633709)

You know, I'm gonna REALLY laugh my ass off if some buddy of yours "borrows" your legitimate Windows license, then gives it to a friend, who gives it to a friend, and then a month or two down the road, M$ thinks that YOUR legitimate copy is a fake, and shuts you down. You still gonna think it's ok? After you did NOTHING to get shut down? I got a feeling you'll change your mind...

Re:How is this evil at all? (1)

andymadigan (792996) | more than 8 years ago | (#15633714)

Read previous articles about this topic, that's not all it does.

Re:How is this evil at all? (5, Insightful)

Zarel (900479) | more than 8 years ago | (#15633780)

By your typo, you just answered your own question:
Scenario: Copy is licensed
Microsoft Server: Let's see... nope, this one's pirated.
Computer with WGA: Well then.
Computer with WGA: Hey $username, you don't have a legitimate license. Please go buy one.

In other words, false positives. Also, doesn't it phone home every day or something? You'd think you'd only need to check once.

Major Spware Argument (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15633682)

What peeves people so much about WGA is that MS pushed it out as a Critical Update, meaning that all machines with Auto Update install it without prompting. It is undeniably not a critical security update and to make matters worse it phones home. After taking some heat, MS then conceded that the installation of WGA will be optional (if by optional you mean selectively blocking some non-critical updates). It's still being pushed, but you don't have to install it. For those of you with your less than legit copies worried about not receiving updates, you can always download third-party update packs if you don't mind a bit of a delay. Not necessarily a bad thing considering that MS has been known for having to patch their patches. I'm not an MS fan, but not a huge hater. Just a strategically stupid time to ramp up WGA after the whole rootkit fiasco. I'm not an MS fan, but not a huge hater. Just a strategicly stupid time to ramp up WGA after the whole rootkit fiasco.

NOT SPYWARE (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15633703)

Look everybody wga is NOT SPYWARE. I ran Microsoft Windows AntiSpyware Beta on WGA and it came up CLEAN. So drop it okay?

WGA removal utility? (4, Informative)

kimvette (919543) | more than 8 years ago | (#15633708)

http://www.firewallleaktester.com/removewga.htm [firewallleaktester.com]

I CANNOT vouch for the legitimacy of that utility (so scan it first, try it on a staging machine, etc., YMMV, Batteries not included, and all that jazz). I just did a quick search for utilities for removing WGA, but being a Linux user I don't have much use for it myself. There are reviews of it on legitimate sites (for example, PC World) but then they've also unknowingly recommended scumware in the past as well.

microsoft is going to win because... (1)

na641 (964251) | more than 8 years ago | (#15633716)

wga is, at this point, COMPLETELY optional. Not only has MS not forced WGA on anyone, like always its up to the consumer to decide whether or not to install these 'updates'.

Doesn't bug me... (0, Flamebait)

Mijion (890763) | more than 8 years ago | (#15633739)

I have a legal version of Windows, I have no fear of Microsoft. It doesn't send any personal information. It just sends your PID to see if is Legal. If You have something to fear, stop using Windows. Run Linux or go buy a Mac, Its your choice.

Invasion of Privacy? Yes. (1)

blankoboy (719577) | more than 8 years ago | (#15633743)

WGA notifies Microsoft of when/where you sign on to your PC without your knowledge/consent. This allows MS to keep tabs on your location at any given time.

Sure, when you go to Microsoft Update you are giving up your IP addy and effectively doing the same thing...but...this is a voluntary action on your part.

This is all a means to an end....you just don't see it yet.

/tinfoil hat jokes not needed.

Root of legal software problems... (1)

MECC (8478) | more than 8 years ago | (#15633758)

...could be that software is one of the most tractable of all non-abstract mediums, and we're attempting to apply laws intended for much less tractable non-abstract mediums. So won't work.

Only viewed as spyware when... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15633792)

The software is only viewed as spyware when you think it's ok to pirate it.

If you think that way, what does that say about you?
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