Over the weekend I had an interesting encounter with Microsoft. Friday evening at about 11:00pm I was checking windows update for any new patches to grab and the update site asked me to validate my copy of Vista. I have jumped through these hoops several times before so I clicked the validate button. To my surprise Microsoft said my copy was not genuine. Then a system pop up alert appeared alerting me that I have been a victim of software piracy and that the Aero user interface had now been disabled. So my background disappeared and the transparency settings for the GUI vanished. I called Microsoft and walked through their validation process over the phone and received a code back to type in to validate. After typing in the code my system still remained marked as ‘not genuine’. So I quickly began searching the net for a reason and or solution to what was happening. I didn’t find a reason but I found a multitude of fixes. I also learned about ‘reduced functionality mode’ which I would begin to encounter in as little as three days. This got me nervous. When microsoft talks about ‘reduced functionality’ it essentially means ‘no functionality’. So I backed my system up and then on Sunday re-installed Vista and some ‘fixes’ so that it would then remain genuine. (I was thinking about moving back to XP and then decided to stick with Vista). I installed these ‘fixes’ with the hope that I won’t want to have to deal with this whole ‘windows genuine advantage’ stuff again in the future.
Now here is where this entire thing becomes a bit humorous. Monday one of the top stories on news.google.com was about a Microsoft Windows Genuine Advantage server outage that marked thousands of PC’s as being non-genuine. (mine was one of those) They have now released a fix and have asked everyone affected to re-validate. (now they didn’t call anyone or even place an announcement on the genuine advantage site, this announcement is on their discussion board… yeah clearly the most logical place for such an important announcement…) So now I need to re-install Vista again with my proper license and re-validate. Because now I am in the boat of when or if Microsoft comes out with a windows update that prevents my ‘fix’ I could be in the same situation again because my Vista install truly is not genuine at the moment.
And now a message to Microsoft:
Microsoft, isn’t this whole Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) actually supposed to be an advantage for your customers? I am currently failing to see it as anything more than a method for you to keep tabs on me. It looks like software pirates were the ones with the advantage over the weekend since WGA doesn’t affect them. Maybe your anti-piracy strategy should involve a one time piracy check after the install instead of a constant piracy check every time you want to get a windows update.