Phone Home, Windows Genuine Advantage, Phone Home…

Michael Santo of RealTechNews writes:

So, I understand the need for the Windows Genuine Advantage as a method to combat piracy, but I don’t understand the need for it to play E.T. Apparently it phones home every day. In fact, according to Lauren Weinstein, a civil liberties activist, it does so every time you boot.

However, I’ve noted a much more serious issue on local XP systems, all of which are legit and pass the MS validity tests with flying colors. It appears that even on such systems, the MS tool will now attempt to contact Microsoft over the Internet every time that you boot. At least, I’m seeing these contacts on every boot after the tool update so far, and I’ve allowed them to proceed to completion each time. Perhaps it stops after some number of boots, but there’s no indication of such a limit so far. The connections occur even if you do not have Windows “automatic update” enabled.

I do not know what data is being sent to MS or is being received during these connections. I cannot locate any information in the MS descriptions to indicate that the tool would notify MS each time I booted a valid system. I fail to see where Microsoft has a “need to know” for this data after a system’s validity has already been established, and there may clearly be organizations with security concerns regarding the communication of boot-time information. [Source: Lauren Weinstein’s Blog]

We Say: There was an update in which Microsoft’s response was posted. Apparently this communication was put in as an emergency “out” for Microsoft if WGA were ever to have issues. Particularly frightening in the post was something I hadn’t known… even if your copy is validated, this validation can be revoked at a later date if Microsoft deems the activation code to be pirated in the future. And even without this, I’m still not all that comfortable with all this excess communication, even with Microsoft’s assurances.

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[tags]xp,validation,windows genuine advantage,phone home,ms tool,validated copy,wga[/tags]