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Microsoft Pledge: No More WGA Funny Business

Microsoft says it has worked out the issues with its Windows Genuine Advantage anti-piracy tool that have been plaguing users.

Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) is designed to combat piracy by installing software on users' PC that periodically checks to see if their version of Windows is authentic before allowing them to download updates.

In a Tuesday Weblog entry, Alex Kochis, senior product manager in the Windows Genuine Advantage group, said the WGA team has been studying its WGA operations and processes and will handle future WGA issues more efficiently than it has in the past.

WGA has been a source of much frustration for users since it was launched in 2005, and recent incidents have fanned the flames of WGA loathing among Microsoft's customers and partners.

In January, Microsoft acknowledged that WGA had mistakenly identified more than half a million Windows users as software pirates. Then in August, the validation scheme for Windows XP and Vista angered thousands of users by flagging legitimate versions of the OS as pirated, and causing some Vista users' copies to enter reduced functionality mode.

Microsoft blamed the August WGA incident on human error resulting from pre-production code being sent to production servers, which caused the servers to reject valid activation and validation requests.

However, there still appears to be some murkiness around the August incident. On Tuesday, Kochis characterized the August glitch as a "temporary service outage", but in an August 28 post, he wrote that "it's important to clarify that this event was not an outage."

The WGA team has changed the way it rolls out updates to the back-end servers and has also been shoring up the infrastructure on which WGA is based. In addition to revamping its monitoring of WGA servers, Microsoft is also implementing 24x7 customer support and phone based technical support to its North American customers, Kochis wrote.

In addition, Microsoft will make software piracy analysis tools like the Get Genuine Kit for Windows XP available to customers in a more speedy fashion, so that customers who've inadvertently bought illegal copies of Windows can get legal, according to Kochis.

"We want to build more trust in WGA by earning the trust of our customers every day," Kochis wrote.

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