Microsoft responds to WGA ‘kill switch’ rumors

Last week, we reported on rumors that
Microsoft planned to implement a “kill switch” in Windows XP. A ZDNet
blog quoted a Microsoft support employee as saying the Windows Genuine
Advantage Notification application would become mandatory by the fall,
and that users without it installed would see their copies of the
operating system stop working after 30 days. A Microsoft spokesperson
has now
responded to these claims
, albeit with a rather ambiguous statement:

“No, Microsoft antipiracy technologies cannot and will not turn off your
computer,” said a spokeswoman with Waggener Edstrom, Microsoft’s public
relations firm. “The game is changing for counterfeiters. In Windows
Vista, we are making it notably harder and less appealing to use
counterfeit software, and we will work to make that a consistent
experience with older versions of Windows as well.”

Computerworld believes the spokeswoman is denying the “kill switch”
rumors, but she talks about turning computers off—not rendering
Windows unworkable. Additionally, she suggests using counterfeit copies
of Windows XP will become “notably harder and less appealing” over time.
This statement makes Microsoft’s stance none too clear, considering the
company told ZDNet last week that customers “may be required to
participate” in the WGA Notification program in the future.

Comments closed
    • Maddog
    • 13 years ago

    Umm … if you steal software knowingly and then it stops working, why is there an outcry? Buy the software. Play the system as long as you can but when the system beats you, move on.

    If you are sold a PC with pirate software, then you take action against the company that sold it to you. Why should the PC industry be any different from any other industry?

    Seems really simple to me and just dont see what the issue is.

    • Generic Ninja
    • 13 years ago

    My Toshiba laptop is now running a pirated version of windows due to WGA. The perfectly legit copy was flagged by MS as counterfeit and their phone putz’s refused to do anything but tell me to buy a “legit” copy. Amusingly my friend’s pirated corp version passed WGA perfectly fine.

    What is horrible about this is the unyielding refusal of the MS agents to rectify the issue with my legal copy, the one that came on my laptop which is still in original hardware configuration and has a key which has never been shared. They tell me that the only way my key would be flagged would be if I shared it with others and thus my license to use windows is no longer valid.

    I am sure that if I fought harder I would have eventually gotten to a supervisor who would have given me a new key or activation key of some sort but as a legitimate user why should I have to go through that effort? If I am going to use my own time to get windows working it might as well be a cracked version which I have control over. Microsoft has with one stroke between WGA and the potential for it to make my Windows installation non-functional taken away the only real reason to run a legit copy of window. Rather than being trouble free from a update perspective I ended up feeling screwed by telephone reps who were unhelpful at best and hostile at worst.

    WGA would work much better from an incentive position, based on Microsoft’s old model of only providing select updates to users who have proven legitimate copies of Windows. This way false positives for legit users wouldn’t damage their productivity greatly but there would still be a positive reason to use genuine windows products.

    What this comes down to however is that a “kill switch” in windows, whether it shuts off the computer or not just isn’t a legitimate way to do business, especially with the number of false positives being reported. I have gone from a legal cust to what Microsoft would consider a criminal and in my opinion it is their fault. Get stuffed Microsoft, take your rude phone reps and your falsely flagged legitimate keys and know that I will never again purchase a system with your software on it.

      • Chrispy_
      • 13 years ago

      There will always be a crack or workaround for the kill-switch and even if Microsoft do a stealth release of this kill-switch, you can guarantee that the crack will be out within the week, more likely within the day.

      • Austin
      • 13 years ago

      l[

        • Forge
        • 13 years ago

        IME, this is always the case. My freshly downgraded PSP plays all sorts of apps and games that ‘legit’ unpatched PSPs can never have, my modded Xbox plays homemade games and lets me cache my game DVDs onto a big aftermarket hard disk, removing disc swaps, cutting load times to nil, and keeping my disks shiny and unscratched.

        The pirate always comes out on top. If only MS had half a clue, they’d realize they’re fighting a losing battle, and their paying customers are getting slaughtered in the crossfire.

        It’s OK by me, though. I’ve had more people come to me and ask about Linux/ask me to come install with them in the last few weeks, since the WGA crap started hitting WinUpdate and the mainstream news than in the last 4 or 5 years.

        If MS mismanages this as badly as I’m hoping, it could finally mean the end of Windows desktop dominance.

        For anyone who doesn’t believe it can happen, go grab the latest Ubuntu DVD. It’s actually *easier* than Windows to install, in most cases, and it’s similar in terms of work to upkeep.

    • just brew it!
    • 13 years ago

    I’ve been using Linux as a server OS for a few years now. I guess it’s time for me to get off my butt, bite the bullet and move my desktop over as well.

    • Austin
    • 13 years ago

    r[<>:o(<]r Biggest source of legitimate Windows users being wrongly stopped by WGA are OEM users who either didn't realise their OEM version of Windows was tied to a few key components (hence only a few years of life) or who have reinstalled Windows and now Microsoft refuse to allow them to reactivate. That's if the person on the other end of the phone speaks legible English! That's what you get from a monopolistic company. How about sharing thanks for competition such as ATi vs nVidia and AMD vs Intel shall we? y[<;o)<]y Over the last few years there have been a few forecasters foreseeing Microsoft's demise due primarily to Vista being so late, WGA could simply be M$ trying to milk everyone to the last in a desperate effort to remain viable, everyone including customers already owning a legitimate Windows license. l[<:o0<]l If WGA does become mandatory and does limit suspects to a 30 day sentence *[

      • l33t-g4m3r
      • 13 years ago

      of course, were always guilty until proven innocent nowadays.

    • albundy
    • 13 years ago

    The sign should read:

    You have an illegal copy of Windows with a legal cd-key. Please cease any booting of Windows and install any version of Linux to fix the problem.
    You have been warned.

    • stmok
    • 13 years ago

    /[http://www.codeplex.com<]§ and you'll see what I mean...They also take ideas from open-source and put it into Vista! If open-source is bad, then why are they taking the same concepts and using it in their products? Do a search for "Address Space Layout Randomization" (ASLR) and Vista. Then search for PaX and ExecShield (these are both open-source solutions that have been around LONG before Microsoft heard of ASLR...We're talking about 6 yrs and 3 yrs respectively). The fact is, you really can't trust what Microsoft says. They can change their mind in the last moment, and you won't know wtf is going on until they release and installed whatever it is on your system. (Do any of you know exactly what WGA does? I sure don't, but I am curious about the technical details of how it really works...How does it check your copy is legit? How do the crackers bypass it? etc). WGA isn't 100% accurate. There have been innocent parties hurt by this fiasco. And what's the most common MS suggestion? Get the user to pay for another licence key! And what if they don't want to? Tough cookies!

      • lethal
      • 13 years ago

      Im guessing it checks you key against a list of “popular” keys and maybe it takes a look to see if you have actually activated your copy of windows (since most pirated copies are corporate keys that never activate).

    • kvndoom
    • 13 years ago

    I noticed the word play also. Regardless, we’ll see what happens soon enough.

    • droopy1592
    • 13 years ago

    Don’t they need the pirated copy users to download something like the WGA nagger to activate this? It will have to be a unnamed update that does it, and I’m sure someone will figure out which number is assigned to it. The same method that defeated wga will defeat this.

      • Forge
      • 13 years ago

      Who says that update hasn’t already happened?

      Who says that SP1 or SP2 didn’t add the mechanism? Heck, how do we know it wasn’t just sitting around in XP’s codebase, latent, since RTM??

      That’s the bummer about closed source. You really have no way to be sure whose code you’re running.

        • droopy1592
        • 13 years ago

        I’m not disagreeing or saying it’s not possible, but if it was an update it wouldn’t take long to find out which one.

    • Bauxite
    • 13 years ago

    Duh, this is meaningless spin which answers nothing:

    Booting up your computer after 30 days of warning and having a screen that says something like “this windows has been deactivated” and you can’t do anything but format or enter a new activation code is not “turning your computer off”, both technicaly and legally.

    They never had the ability to ‘turn off your computer’ anyways, thats BIOS/hardware. Deny running their software, sure.

      • random_task
      • 13 years ago

      how do you think windows does it when you tell it to shutdown?

        • Bauxite
        • 13 years ago

        Thats a shutdown command within windows, and does nothing if I boot another partition or use a live cd or remove the offending software or block the ports allowing the software to update.

        Again, all they can do is deny you the use of their software if you let them in the first place, they being MS or worm writers using pieces of windows.

      • droopy1592
      • 13 years ago

      heh, worms make your computer shut off through windows so you don’t think windows itself can do it?

      • stmok
      • 13 years ago

      Bauxite says…
      /[

        • Captain Ned
        • 13 years ago

        Are you arguing that it should be acceptable for people to run Windows without paying for it?

          • l33t-g4m3r
          • 13 years ago

          are you arguing that the ends justify the means?
          or two wrongs make a right?

          • stmok
          • 13 years ago

          *sigh*
          How about you read the post CAREFULLY.

        • Bauxite
        • 13 years ago

        Thats a shutdown command within windows, and does nothing if I boot another partition or use a live cd or remove the offending software or block the ports allowing the software to update.

        Again, all they can do is deny you the use of their software if you let them in the first place, they being MS or worm writers using pieces of windows.

        You’re all missing the point, which is MS responded to a technicality that NEVER EXISTED to begin with. Their statement is crafted in a way that makes it meaningless.

    • stmok
    • 13 years ago

    I guess this following quote from Bill Gates applies now, doesn’t it?

    /[< *[< "As long as they are going to steal it [software], we want them to steal ours. They'll get sort of addicted, and then we'll somehow figure out how to collect sometime in the next decade." <]* <]/

      • Morpheusman
      • 13 years ago

      Exactly. It looks like they are playing word games.

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