Very interesting article about WGA

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SamG
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Post by SamG » Fri Jun 30, 2006 6:40 pm

jwunderly wrote:
SamG wrote:but I think the fuss over WGA is more over principle than over any actual abuse of its customers by Microsoft.


Their business practices are a form of abuse, neglect, indifference, mental cruelty, etc.

On the business practices front, WGA phoning home once upon a time at boot is absolutely the least of our worries, is it not?

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Post by SAK ` » Fri Jun 30, 2006 10:41 pm

I think WGA tools can be microsoft's first "spyware" and "adware" concerns, whether shares of copies were pirated or not. Luckily, smart programming rebels learned what to do to remove that. I am sure WGA will be even stronger once they reach Vista.

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Post by starfoxtj » Sat Jul 01, 2006 12:57 am

Ramon Fincken wrote: ok but when you have a legit/legal version of windows there is nothing to worry about :)

Rfn

The thing is, there are HUNDREDS of reports of legitimate copies of XP being recognized as pirated copies. Check the WGA support forums on MS's website and some of the slashdot comments. Alot of legit users are going to be very mad if ms does go ahead and start "disabling" pirated copies of their os (or what wga incorrectly reports as a pirated copy).

Regardless of if its legit or not, im sorry but I feel it is wrong, for ANY reason to have some program call home for whatever purpose it deems nessesary (it would be different if you had the source code so you know exactly WHAT it is doing). PHPBB checks home for updates, but you can look at the source and know exactly what it collets and what it does with the information, and you could remove the check if you wanted too. With WGA you cannot.

You stuck with a closed sourced app that does whatever it is told to do whever it checks in.

Not my cup of tea...
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Post by SAK ` » Sat Jul 01, 2006 12:16 pm

starfoxtj wrote: PHPBB checks home for updates, but you can look at the source and know exactly what it collets and what it does with the information, and you could remove the check if you wanted too. With WGA you cannot.


http://labnol.blogspot.com/2006/04/work ... nuine.html

If you're saying or meaning that it is impossible to remove the WGA checking tools and re-generators, well, there is a good chance of a work-around.

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Post by SamG » Sat Jul 01, 2006 12:49 pm

My concern here is over the lopsided reaction to WGA. Microsoft is now distributing/pushing a WGA tool that does not phone home at boot and has published a method to remove the tool altogether. Yet neither of those things gets any real air time (how many people do you see linking to Microsoft's removal method?). The fact that the earlier tool's behavior was deceptive rather than harmful in point of fact also gets little air time.

If this kind of negative press over a relatively benign issue (compared to much more serious Microsoft behavior) were happening to phpBB, we'd not hesitate a moment to call that FUD. Saying that we can study the phpBB source really doesn't address the FUD issue, since that argument is about technical prowess and not about actual limitations. Actual WGA tool behavior can be scrutinized just as carefully as phpBB's source code. Not everybody can understand phpBB source, and not everybody can sniff WGA packets, but the physical evidence is there all the same.

Don't get me wrong. I don't approve of unaccounted for network traffic. But I note that I imagine most of us Windows users have daily/regular network traffic we can't routinely account for either in terms of what app is doing the talking or what specific information is actually leaving our computers. There is this steady, regular flow of "trusted" network traffic from many sources. Does the fact that CSE HTML Validator or HTML-Kit or various Adobe products or Java or Netscape or Firefox or Thunderbird (these are just examples of apps that generate "trusted" network traffic one way or another; obviously there are many more) aren't affiliated with Microsoft mean I know exactly what information is being passed by them? Why should an undisclosed (and now eliminated) ping from WGA cause such a fuss when my computers bleed equally revealing information all the time?

Just my opinion.

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Post by Newfie » Sat Jul 01, 2006 5:15 pm

But SamG, we would have reason to be alarmed when Microsoft is trying to be the police.

We don't want companies to be the police.

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Post by SamG » Sat Jul 01, 2006 6:47 pm

How is WGA different in principle from the copy-protected 5¼" disks I used back in the '80s? Protecting software from unlawful distribution isn't a new idea, and I don't see how companies who protect their software from unlawful distribution are playing cops.

Next somebody will try to convince me that Wal-Mart is playing cops by having loss prevention systems in their stores.

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Post by SAK ` » Sat Jul 01, 2006 8:02 pm

And of course, it would be kinda cruel just to have a SWAT team break down your front door, go straight to your computer, break into the PC, rip the hard drive off your CPU box, show the HDD itself dead at your face and shout "This means you are running a pirated version of XP, young man!" I mean, that would be crazy.

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Post by phantomk » Sat Jul 01, 2006 8:14 pm

SAK ` wrote: And of course, it would be kinda cruel just to have a SWAT team break down your front door, go straight to your computer, break into the PC, rip the hard drive off your CPU box, show the HDD itself dead at your face and shout "This means you are running a pirated version of XP, young man!" I mean, that would be crazy.

Buy you have to admit, it would be pretty funny :)

I used to have a pirated copy of XP, of course I was a teen and well, didn't have that much money, linux wasn't an option as I had Dialup and didn't have the ability to run linux and connect to the internet. Last year I got decent job, which allowed me to purchase a copy of XP. So I could really care less what the copy right protetion program does, as long as, it doesn't actively search for other programs and report back on them.

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Post by Newfie » Sat Jul 01, 2006 11:13 pm

SamG wrote: How is WGA different in principle from the copy-protected 5¼" disks I used back in the '80s? Protecting software from unlawful distribution isn't a new idea, and I don't see how companies who protect their software from unlawful distribution are playing cops.

Next somebody will try to convince me that Wal-Mart is playing cops by having loss prevention systems in their stores.


1. Back in the 80s, the majority of computers were stand-alone systems, thus you don't have a "big brother" hanging over your head trying to indict you. The copy-protection schemes were also simpler, like questions found in the manual, or even Microsoft's own Product Key. Those are more tolerable protections.

2. Wal-Mart only has the SensorMatic systems in their own buildings. They don't go to your house to check if you shoplifted anything or not.

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Post by starfoxtj » Sat Jul 01, 2006 11:31 pm

Thank you for that explination newfire.
Its irritating how so many people dont see the difference between old stlye copy protection, and new style "have some big brother company watching every move your computer makes and reports back".

Even if the software is legitimate, I dont want someone watching my every move, even if nothing I do is illegal. Its just WRONG and invasion of privacy.
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Post by Anon » Sat Jul 01, 2006 11:58 pm

There is a difference between Microsoft watching your every single move, monitoring all your programs, and them simply running basic checks on startup of the operating system only

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Post by SamG » Sun Jul 02, 2006 2:50 am

Newfie wrote: 1. Back in the 80s, the majority of computers were stand-alone systems, thus you don't have a "big brother" hanging over your head trying to indict you. The copy-protection schemes were also simpler, like questions found in the manual, or even Microsoft's own Product Key. Those are more tolerable protections.

I disagree. I can install Windows 98 on dozens of machines with Microsoft's own product key. To install a copy-protected disk on dozens of machines, I had to crack the copy protection. That's why I asked about a difference in principle, not in method.
Newfie wrote: 2. Wal-Mart only has the SensorMatic systems in their own buildings. They don't go to your house to check if you shoplifted anything or not.

:lol: So the difference is that Microsoft plays cops by coming into my house to see if I bootleged their software? Is there a better place for them to look?
Last edited by SamG on Sun Jul 02, 2006 3:00 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Post by SamG » Sun Jul 02, 2006 2:55 am

starfoxtj wrote: Its irritating how so many people dont see the difference between old stlye copy protection, and new style "have some big brother company watching every move your computer makes and reports back".

I can assure you that it's no less irritating how so many people have inflated something like a ping at boot (please forgive me if I keep repeating that WGA no longer does that, by the way) into Microsoft watching my every move. This is pure FUD.

If you can give me evidence that Microsoft has more "personal" information about me through WGA than phpBB.com has on me through the server logs, you would be doing me a favor by showing me that evidence.

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Post by who_cares » Sun Jul 02, 2006 3:50 am

SamG wrote: Is there a better place for them to look?

Most stores have electronic inventory and receipts

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