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Microsoft kills Windows Genuine Advantage

Renames it Windows Activation Technology

Microsoft is renaming its Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) validation system for Windows 7 users in a bid to adjust the reputation of the antipiracy programme.

According to the software giant, WGA will be known as 'Windows Activation Technology', which more accurately reflects the way the technology works.

WGA, which Microsoft introduced as an add-on to Windows XP in 2006 but built directly into Vista, checks to see, through a variety of ways including product activation, if someone is running a genuine copy of Windows.

Microsoft launched WGA as part of a widespread crackdown effort against software counterfeiting and piracy that it has undertaken in earnest for several years.

Many users griped about WGA when it was first introduced, especially because of early bugs that would deem genuine software counterfeit, forcing one user to write a work-around for the glitch and irking many others.

They also complained about a feature of the tool that shut down many functions of a version of Windows if it is discovered to be counterfeit or pirated.

To its credit, Microsoft responded to the outcry, fixing bugs and tweaking features. Now, the software uses a series of pop-up alerts to remind people their software is found to be counterfeit.

Joe Williams, Microsoft's general manager of Worldwide Genuine Windows said the reason behind the name change is that WGA in Vista and now Windows 7 is "fundamentally different" from the original program that was an add-on to XP, although the goals of the programs are the same.

"The guiding principle is to enable the customer to know when the software they are using is genuine and licensed and help them to do something about it if it's not," he said.

"However the technology used in Windows Vista and Windows 7 consists of new code and the latest methods for protecting Windows in ways that can only really be achieved with the components that are built in to both Windows Vista and now Windows 7."

Williams added that Microsoft has improved the activation tool in Windows 7 with support for virtualised images and volume-activation for multiple operating systems to take into consideration new business scenarios that it did not think of or were not prevalent when Microsoft first introduced the technology.

Microsoft released Windows 7 Release Candidate 1 this week, and many expect a final release of the software in October.


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