Microsoft phasing out Windows Genuine Advantage

Written by Ben Hardwidge

May 8, 2009 // 3:41 p.m.

Tags: #7 #activation #advantage #anti #genuine #microsoft #piracy #technologies #vista #windows #xp

Microsoft’s Windows Genuine Advantage scheme has already had a drastic effect on software piracy, particularly as you need to be able to update Windows every time another security hole is revealed. However, Microsoft has revealed that Windows 7 will take this a step further with a new tweaked anti-piracy system that’s built on the Software Protection Platform technology used in Windows Vista.

Called Windows Activation Technologies (WAT), the system will eventually replace Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA). Future Windows Vista and Windows 7 updates will use WAT, although future Windows XP updates will still use WGA.

Microsoft’s general manager of Worldwide Genuine Windows, Joe Williams, explained that WAT won’t run on Windows XP because it apparently uses a “fundamentally different” technology. “It consists of new code and the latest methods for protecting Windows,” says Williams, which he says function “in ways that can only really be achieved with the components that are built in to both Windows Vista and now Windows 7.”

Without revealing any specifics, Williams claims that the anti-piracy technology developed for Windows Vista made the OS “harder to pirate,” and adds that “we’re seeing fewer copies of non-genuine Windows Vista on customers’ machines.” Windows 7 will feature the latest generation of the anti-piracy technology first used in Vista, and will also improve on it in a few ways.

Williams gives the example of the activation system forced upon people installing Windows Vista with Service Pack 1. If you didn’t activate Windows during the login process, you would periodically get a reminder to activate Windows, which gave you the option to activate Windows immediately or later. However, the option to activate later would be greyed out for 15 seconds. Williams says that “customers told us that while the prompt grabbed their attention, they didn’t understand why they needed to activate immediately and that the delay was annoying.”

As such, Windows 7 will no longer feature the delay if you want to activate later, and will instead be given a dialogue box detailing the benefits of activation. Generally, Williams says that “In Windows 7 we’ve made changes so that users will see more informative notifications messages and be able to more easily complete the tasks they need to.

Justifying the need for stringent anti-piracy systems in Windows, Williams said that “as a public company, we have a responsibility to our shareholders and employees to protect our intellectual property and get paid for the products we bring to the market.” Williams also said that Microsoft’s research revealed that “up to a third of customers worldwide may be running counterfeit copies of Windows.”

Does Windows need anti-piracy technology on top of the need to activate Windows, and in what ways would you like Microsoft to improve its anti-piracy measures? Let us know your thoughts in the forums.
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