WGA – just another form of DRM that ends up potentially harming legitimate users.
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This is Leo Notenboom for askleo.info.
An interesting thing happened over the weekend: Microsoft WGA servers, used
by Windows Genuine Advantage to validate Windows installations as being
legitimate, crashed. For 19 hours they were apparently inaccessible.
The upshot? For 19 hours some legitimate and legal users of Microsoft
Windows were being told that their copy wasn’t. Their copies of Windows
crippled themselves until some time after the WGA servers came back up, at
which point the computer did the moral equivalent of “never mind” and returned
to full functionality.
While I support attempts to stop software piracy, this isn’t it folks. Tools
and technology that prevent legitimate users from doing what they need to do is
simply wrong. As others have suggested, imagine a coordinated attack against
the WGA servers – could they really bring the majority of Windows machines to
their knees? It sure looks like it.
Let’s face it, honest users don’t deserve this. Paying customers shouldn’t
have their work or livelihood put in jeopardy by ill-conceived schemes that are
poorly designed to ultimately protect only Microsoft’s bottom line.
It’s sad. Having worked there for so many years I know that Microsoft is
full of passionate people that really, honestly care about the user experience
and the quality of the products that Microsoft produces. Unfortunately those
folks are apparently powerless against boneheaded decisions that lead to things
like Windows Genuine Advantage.
WGA is trying to control the uncontrollable – not unlike any another form of
digital rights management, if you ask me.
Ultimately WGA is perhaps better termed “LGA” or “MGA” for Linux or Mac
Genuine Advantage – because it’s those systems that apparently have the
advantage. If this weekend’s activity is any indication, if Microsoft continues
to use heavy-handed tactics that harm honest customers and put those customers
at risk, then they my find those same honest customers becoming honest
customers of other solutions.
More and more, Linux and the Mac are viable alternatives to Windows, but
Microsoft certainly isn’t acting like it. In fact, this weekend probably did
more for Microsoft alternatives than they could have hoped for themselves.
Microsoft needs to spend more time actually thinking of its customers than
trying to figure out how to spin broken anti-piracy solutions into some
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Till next time, I’m Leo Notenboom, for askleo.info.