Microsoft has managed to doge a legal bullet with the news that a lawsuit against it regarding its Windows Genuine Advantage software has been refused Class Action status.

As reported over on Ars Technica, the suit - which will still go ahead, but as a plain lawsuit rather than a Class Action suit - began three years ago when privacy advocates discovered the then-beta Windows Genuine Advantage software, designed to detect pirated installations of Windows XP, communicated with Microsoft's servers on a daily basis.

Despite the company moving to a once-every-ninety-days callback cycle once WGA had left beta, the privacy concerns never died down - and only increased when Microsoft foisted the WGA software on its users by issuing it as a High Priority update via Windows Update and Microsoft Update.

The suit, filed in June 2006, asks for "actual damages or one hundred thousand dollars per violation, whichever is greater," for the company to be banned from shipping WGA, and for a full disclosure of WGA's "potential security and other risks," along with the production of a tool to fully remove a WGA installation - which the suit brands "spyware" - from a Windows system.

Had the suit been granted Class Action status, as it originally sought, the damages Microsoft could have faced had it lost would have been immense: anyone who owned a Windows XP-based PC in 2006 would have potentially been a class member and owed damages by the company. The refusal by the court to grant the Class Action status will come as a relief to the company, but it still needs to defend itself against the claims made in the suit - and defend its use of Windows Genuine Advantage, now known as Windows Activation Technologies.

Do you think Microsoft should be forced to stop using the WGA 'spyware,' or does the company have a right to use technological measures to attempt to prevent piracy of its software? Share your thoughts over in the forums.

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