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> Windows Genuine Advantage - Spyware, MS is playing big brother
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CelticRadio 
Posted: 30-Jun-2006, 09:26 AM
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ZodiacOak

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I am not one for sounding alarms about every piece of spyware or virus that comes out, but this one hit very close to home.

Over the years I have purchased windows probably 20 times. When I bought a lab top, dell computer (x3), upgraded from Windows 98 to XP home edition, purchased Win2k and the list goes on and on.

I try to keep automatic updates on for my Windows machines. Right now I have 4 network computers for my family that have passed the MS Genune Advantage test. However, my workstation which contains thousands of dollars of software did not pass. That is because I used a copy of Windows XP that came with one of the original Dell computers that I purchased. I had built this computer from scratch and thought that the windows that came with the Dell was perfectly fine for installing on this machine (that dell was junked). It states that it is a corporate version and maybe pirated!!!

Of course, I can pay $179 to make it geniune! How many times does this company want me to purchase a copy of their operating system.

Unfortunately, I had automatic updates installed and this spyware (which it is spyware) automatically installed itself. Luckily I run Norton Ghost and was able to restore my system to a date prior to the automatic update.

I am now turning off automatic updates and will be manually installing updates. There are many sites that maintain the ms software downloads/updates that you can download and install. I also have a router/firewall which protects my network and systems from intrusion.

I can not recommend that you turn off automatic updates, but I do belive that Microsoft is now monitoring everyones computer and the software that is installed. There is a class action about this recently filed:

http://www.pcadvisor.co.uk/news/index.cfm?newsid=6502

I for one will not be purchasing the new version of Windows called Vista. My fear is it is just one big monitoring tool that will check everything you do online and require the numbers from your credit card to activate all of the additional features.

What I have for an Operating System is what I have for the forseeable future. I am not upgrading! Anyone else feel the same way?


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ontrose1969 
Posted: 30-Jun-2006, 11:43 AM
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I too have a "corporate version" of Windows according to the genuine advantage tool. And yes it is spyware! I have found a little script that deletes the genuine advantage tool so I can do my updates. I don't do the automatic updates because of this, besides I like to know what is getting installed on my computer.

I'm not sure I plan on getting Vista when it is finally released either due to the monitoring that I'm sure it will do.

I think it is a cheap shot of Microsoft to send something like the genuine advantage spyware out. Most people have a legit copy of Windows and those that don't... well they will always find a way around the checks and controls. I don't feel I should have to pay for another copy of Windows just because the copy I have came from an old computer that I no longer use and it says Gateway or Dell on it. Not everyone can afford to shell out the money for a new piece of software just because the company says you have to change it or else...

I am all for legit software, but I am not made of money and have always checked out the software that I can find online to try it and see if it is what I need. I have always gone and purchased a legit copy if I decide I want to keep it.

Well... that's my soapbox for the moment! biggrin.gif

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Mailagnas maqqas Dunaidonas 
Posted: 05-Jul-2006, 04:52 PM
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I'm still using Windows ME, and may learn how to install and use Linux before I am willing to "upgrade" to Vista.
WGA is a good example of why so many legitimate computer users are fed up with Microsoft. If your computer doesn't pass the WGA test, then you may be required to spend $150 to obtain a valid software key. However, M$ makes it clear that simply obtaining the software key may not be sufficient--if your computer doesn't pass the further testing required for the software key patch to work, then you are faced with a total re-install of the OS.
A few minutes of searching with Google shows that the hacker community easily figured out how to bypass WGA, which means that it is only non-hackers (i.e., legitimate users) who are being targets by what appears to be yet another scheme by M$ to gouge users whenever possible.


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dundee 
Posted: 05-Jul-2006, 05:14 PM
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ok, call me slow on the uptake (or should i say upload) but... i am at work and get interupted a lot...

i have windows XP media center on my computer at home came with the computer i bought in feburary.... what is the problem with automatic updates... it seems that the message is always "critical update".

what is this spyware you are talking about? what is WGA? is it just something to keep people from pirating software? which is illegal (like cloning music)...

please enlighten me....

ok i just did some quick research but still dont really understand.... but what i came up with was this....

http://it.moldova.org/stiri/eng/13580/

it has a program to "only remove the notification part, phoning home, and does not touch the Validation part. As the time I'm writting this, the Validation part is mandatory for some not critical downloads from Microsoft, but the Notification part is not mandatory at all, and you are able to install all of the security updates without installing this one. This may change in the future thought, I don't know what are the Microsoft plans." quoted from Moldova....

but hey i am still confused....


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Senara 
Posted: 05-Jul-2006, 05:43 PM
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QUOTE (dundee @ 05-Jul-2006, 05:14 PM)
ok, call me slow on the uptake (or should i say upload) but... i am at work and get interupted a lot...

i have windows XP media center on my computer at home came with the computer i bought in feburary.... what is the problem with automatic updates... it seems that the message is always "critical update".

what is this spyware you are talking about? what is WGA? is it just something to keep people from pirating software? which is illegal (like cloning music)...

please enlighten me....

ok i just did some quick research but still dont really understand.... but what i came up with was this....

http://it.moldova.org/stiri/eng/13580/

it has a program to "only remove the notification part, phoning home, and does not touch the Validation part. As the time I'm writting this, the Validation part is mandatory for some not critical downloads from Microsoft, but the Notification part is not mandatory at all, and you are able to install all of the security updates without installing this one. This may change in the future thought, I don't know what are the Microsoft plans." quoted from Moldova....

but hey i am still confused....

it's okay dundee let me see if I can clarify for you.

QUOTE
i have windows XP media center on my computer at home came with the computer i bought in feburary....  what is the problem with automatic updates... it seems that the message is always "critical update".


the problem with automatic updates is that you really don't know what kind of surveillance software the manufacturer is adding to your machine. It could track what sites you go to so that they can direct their marketing in a certain direction, it could track your usage habits for new product development, or could track your usage for ethical questions (porn, music downloads, directions on bomb building etc). Typically not something that the casual user would have to worry about. However it should be something that they should be aware of because it could be something minor that soon finds the feds knocking on your door.

QUOTE
what is this spyware you are talking about? what is WGA? is it just something to keep people from pirating software? which is illegal (like cloning music)...


I believe they are referencing the WGA (Windows Genuine Advantage) update as a spyware program. It is trying to verify if you have an actual license of Windows that was sold with your computer or as a full version. It's a cheap way for Microsoft to force their hand in the software market and grab as much money out of your pocket as they legally can. If they find you have a version of Microsoft that you haven't purchased for a particular machine they can then question wether or not it is authentic therefore making the consumer buy a new copy of the software. I think they're trying to keep the OS from being installed on multiple machines. It's a licensing thing.

QUOTE
please enlighten me....

ok i just did some quick research but still dont really understand.... but what i came up with was this....

http://it.moldova.org/stiri/eng/13580/

it has a program to "only remove the notification part, phoning home, and does not touch the Validation part. As the time I'm writting this, the Validation part is mandatory for some not critical downloads from Microsoft, but the Notification part is not mandatory at all, and you are able to install all of the security updates without installing this one. This may change in the future thought, I don't know what are the Microsoft plans."  quoted from Moldova....

but hey i am still confused....


does that help the confusion at all?


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dundee 
Posted: 06-Jul-2006, 01:34 PM
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ok now with auto updates? my home machine is set for "notify me but dont automatically donwload or install updates" i to like to know what is going into my machine.

BUT!!!!! if they (microsoft) want to spy on me all they have to do is say that it is a "critical update" to patch a possible hacker attack porthole... and still install their little spyware...

also, i am sure the government knows all the bomb making sites i have been to cool.gif with their use of "carnivor"... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carnivore_(FBI) or magic lantern http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magic_Lantern..._%28software%29 and how can one be sure that other OS's dont have their little spyware scripts including linux and apple?

anyway i just spoke to my "IS dude" here at work and he said... for work use auto-updates ...he also said that WGA was still in the test stages and does not have to be active (ie the website i pasted in the previous post...) and microsoft is up to their armpits in lawsuits over the whole thing....

thank you senara you added more light... but i think i for one am going back to a #2 graphite pencil, the library, and a couple of cans with string between 'em.... now i just have to figure out how to get "Higlander Radio" on the cans and how long of a string i will need.....*L*
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CelticRadio 
Posted: 06-Jul-2006, 07:27 PM
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From what I have been reading on the net and in the news it appears that WGA was installed as part of a security patch 1 year ago. It has been periodically sending information from your computer to Microsoft reporting on your hardware and versions of MS software.

This is spyware. It is a program that you did not authorize to install and had no idea that it was being installed. Various lawsuits are trying to get Microsoft to destroy the data they have been collecting. Who knows what else they have been collecting?

I have attached a small program that will determine if you have WGA installed and will remove it.





Attached File RemoveWGA.exe
Size: 12.5K
Number of downloads: 29 Times(s)
Last accessed: 25-Nov-2014, 01:58 AM
Last Updated: 10-Aug-2006, 03:07 AM
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dundee 
Posted: 07-Jul-2006, 09:00 AM
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here are the instructions for the program

http://it.moldova.org/stiri/eng/13580/

What is RemoveWGA?

RemoveWGA enables you to remove the Microsoft "Windows Genuine Advantage Notifications" tool, which is calling home and connect to Microsoft servers every time you boot. Futures updates of this notification tool will (officialy) setup the connection rate to once every two weeks.

Once the WGA Notification tool has checked your OS and has confirmed you had a legit copy, there is no decent point or reason to check it again and again every boot. Moreover, connecting to Microsoft brings security issue for corporate networks, and privacy issues for everyone. It is also unclear which information are transmitted (Microsoft published an official answer, but an individual study brought some questions). All of that, along the fact that Microsoft used deceptive ways to make you install this tool (it was told you it was an urgent security update, whereas it is a new installation giving you no extra security) makes me calling this tool a spyware.

Also, Windows Genuine Advantage Notifications is different than Windows Genuine Advantage Validation. RemoveWGA only remove the notification part, phoning home, and does not touch the Validation part. As the time I'm writting this, the Validation part is mandatory for some not critical downloads from Microsoft, but the Notification part is not mandatory at all, and you are able to install all of the security updates without installing this one. This may change in the future thought, I don't know what are the Microsoft plans.

Download

Link : RemoveWGA.exe
Size : 10 KB
MD5 : 344CC42E20A35DE0197BE8F8CECAD8A2
SHA-1 : F752F44FC76EE273052C1DD9BF08627515C8EBE2

Compatible : Windows XP (SP1/SP2)

(if you tested it on Windows 2K/2K3, please keep me informed of the results)


Features

* Tell you if the WGA notification tool is active on your system
* Allows you to remove the WGA notification tool from your system
* Accept the "-silent" command line parameter to silently check if the WGA notification tool is active on your system, and popup only if it is found (usefull for checking automatically at startup for instance)

Known issues

1 - One user which had a particular patched "uxtheme.dll" (to allow applying custom WinXP themes) wasn't able to run the tool. I had only one report like this, moreover the patched DLLs (uxtheme.dll) I have tested do not conflict.
Anyway just in case, there is version with the WinXP theme style support disabled : download

2 - If RemoveWGA is blocked/intercepted by another security application, it may prevent it to run completly fine until the end, and it may kill it. If a security application popups about RemoveWGA, you must allow it in order to remove the WGA notification part.



Publication date: 27 June 2006
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