REDMOND, Wash., June 27, 2006 – Every year, millions of consumers and businesses are hurt by counterfeit software. Companies and individuals that license legitimate software have difficulty competing with artificially low prices offered by software pirates. Those who have unwittingly purchased counterfeit software may not have access to the latest features, security and support that help improve productivity and enhance the capabilities of their PCs.
Microsoft is committed to protecting consumers and software resellers from counterfeit software and other forms of software piracy. The company recently announced an expanded focus on those efforts through creation of the Genuine Software Initiative (GSI). As part of the Genuine Software Initiative, Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) has played a critical role in Microsoft’s efforts to help consumers learn whether or not they have a genuine copy of Windows and counter the growth of software piracy.
In July 2005, Microsoft launched WGA Validation, which asked users to make sure their copy of Windows was genuine when using Windows Update, Microsoft Update and the Download Center. The first phase of the WGA Notifications pilot was launched in Norway and Sweden in November 2005. In February 2006, five additional countries were added, and the program was further expanded in April 2006. On May 30, Microsoft expanded the pilot to all major markets in North America, Europe, Latin America and Asia. WGA Notifications is software that is distributed through Automatic Updates and Windows Update that reminds users who fail validation that they are not running genuine Windows, and directs them to resources to learn more about the benefits of using genuine Windows software.
Today, Microsoft released an updated WGA Notifications package. With this update, the pilot phase of WGA Notifications is complete, and the program will continue with a phased roll-out to Windows XP users worldwide. All English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Dutch and Brazilian Portuguese users of Windows XP running Automatic Updates will soon be offered an updated package with a new version of WGA Notifications.
The updated package includes some notable changes to the software based on customer feedback from the previous version.
No daily configuration check
In the pilot phase, a PC that had installed WGA Notifications checked a server-side configuration setting upon each login, to determine if WGA Notifications should run or not. This configuration file check has been removed in the updated WGA Notifications package released today. It is important to note that WGA Validation still periodically checks to determine whether the version of Windows is genuine.
Clearer EULA and instructions to opt-in.
The End User License Agreement (EULA) has been replaced with a standard, General Availability EULA that more clearly explains the purpose of the software and details about WGA Notifications. For customers who choose not to install the updated package, and wish to remove an installed previous version, Microsoft has made available a set of instructions for removing previous versions of WGA Notifications from their PCs.
To help clarify some details about WGA Notifications, Microsoft is providing the following list of Frequently Asked Questions and Answers. Also, screenshots of the WGA Notifications Customer experience are available on the www.microsoft.com/genuine website.
Q: What changes to WGA did you make today?
A: The pilot phase of WGA Notifications is now complete. All English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Dutch and Brazilian Portuguese users of Windows XP running Automatic Updates will soon be offered the updated WGA Notifications package. During the pilot phase, a PC that had installed WGA Notifications checked a server-side configuration setting upon each login to determine if WGA Notifications should run or not. This daily check has been removed. For customers who choose to not install the updated WGA Notifications package, and wish to remove their current installation, Microsoft has made available a set of instructions to remove the previous version of WGA Notifications from their PCs. These instructions are available as KB article # 921914on Microsoft.com
Q: Will a consumer who accepted WGA Notifications during the pilot now be re-offered this new version?
A: Customers who have already installed WGA Notifications will be offered the option to accept the updated package. Participation remains completely optional, and all users can continue to receive critical security updates.
Q: Have there been changes to how customers are notified about what WGA does?
A: Yes, in response to customer feedback on the pilot phase of WGA Notifications, we have made some changes to the program. The End User License Agreement (EULA) is now more descriptive, with a deeper explanation of the program, its purpose and functions. It also includes a preamble that provides a high level summary of important aspects to consider when installing the software. There is also an updated privacy statement that covers the behavior of this software. A complete set of screenshots of the experience, along with a full privacy statement is also available on the www.microsoft.com/genuine website, so customers know what to expect.
Q: Will PCs still check back with Microsoft every day?
A: As soon as a customer installs the updated package of WGA Notifications, the computer will no longer perform the server-side configuration check upon each login. It is important to note that WGA Validation still collects information that is used to determine whether the version of Windows is genuine. Microsoft will not use this information to identify customers or contact them. More information on this can be found in the privacy statement located here http://www.microsoft.com/genuine/downloads/PrivacyInfo.aspx and at http://www.microsoft.com/genuine/downloads/FAQ.aspx?displaylang=en. From time to time Microsoft will make available a new version of the WGA Validation tool. When this occurs, a PC will run the validation check again.
Q: Where can customers get the instructions to remove the previous version of WGA Notifications?
A: Microsoft encourages users to accept the new WGA Notifications package being released today. For customers who choose not to install the updated package, and wish to remove an installed previous version, Microsoft has made available a set of instructions for removing previous versions of WGA Notifications from their PCs. These instructions are available as KB article # 921914on Microsoft.com. Users that do uninstall the previous version will still have the new release offered to them via Automatic Updates and the Windows Update or Microsoft Update websites.