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Windows news: Vista hardens protection as WGA fails

updated 12:30 pm EDT, Wed October 4, 2006

Vista Activation and WGA

Microsoft unveiled its new Software Protection Platform today, which reveals how Windows Vista and other new software from the company will handle copy protection, according to CNET. Significant amongst these is the use of the controversial Windows Genuine Advantage technology first introduced with later Windows XP updates. Microsoft says that new Vista installations must be activated within the first 30 days or it will be restricted to a new Reduced Functionality Mode that severely limits the use of the operating system.

"We will let you use your browser for periods of up to an hour before we log you off," says Microsoft's Thomas Lindeman.

While this compares favorably to Windows XP, which locks users out entirely until they activate the software, journalists are criticizing Microsoft for a newly-implemented feature that will use WGA to periodically check the authenticity of Vista. If it determines that the installed copy is pirated, reports CNET, the 30-day activation period returns and the user loses access to the advanced Aero interface, Defender anti-spyware tools, and ReadyBoost memory functions. Click through for more.

ZDNet's David Berlind observes that Microsoft has effectively betrayed its earlier promise not to include a "kill switch," a remote shutdown that would selectively disable PCs believed to use pirate copies. "If after an hour of being able to use nothing but the Internet, if the computer logs you out, it's as good as off if you ask me," he said. Microsoft has denied the allegation that it was implementing a literal shutdown but does not deny that WGA will prevent questionable copies from being used normally.

The news comes in the light of reports that the existing WGA design is incorrectly marking legitimate copies as pirated. Numerous businesses, schools, and individual users are being forced to contact Microsoft to continue using their copies of Windows XP, says ZDNet's Ed Bott. Such incidents are under investigation by Microsoft but are believed to be indications of future difficulties when WGA is built into many aspects of Windows Vista for its release in early 2007.

By Electronista Staff
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