I was in an Internet cafe surfing the cyberspace when a bubble message suddenly appeared from the toolbar of the Windows machine I was using. “You may be a victim of software counterfeiting,” the message said.
I thought that was something like a spyware but I was using a Windows XP machine (I don’t care whether it would crash or not) so the curious cat in me prompted me to right-click on the message’s icon. Then a menu popped out with the first two items reading like “Validation Failure Details” and “Purchase a Genuine Windows License.”
Ah, oh. That reminded me about the Windows Genuine Advantage thing I heard of recently. I had not paid attention to it until I experienced this pain-in-the-neck message.
The message implied that the shop I was surfing in did not have a valid license for the Windows XP running in at least one of its PCs. For the uninitiated, the Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) is supposed to be Microsoft’s tool running in a Windows machine designed to check the validity of a computer user’s copy of the operating system.
And when I clicked on the “Validation Failure Details”, I was directed to a web page that looked like this:
My first reaction was not to call the attention of the Internet shop keepers but to know more about this WGA thing.
Contrary to what Microsoft has said about the noble intention of the WGA tool, its help desks have been awash with complaints about its infringing on computer users’ privacy. In fact, there was already a lawsuit filed by a computer user who claimed that Microsoft has been checking his computer on daily basis as though his computer activities were being monitored.
There is also a beef coming from another Windows user who claimed that after using his computer for several months, he was surprised at the “software counterfeit” message popping out on his computer screen. This even if his Windows is licensed.
So, there. Another cheap shot by Microsoft (after the failure of the Windows Product Activation scheme) at protecting its dominance in the software industry.
Is your Windows copy licensed? You don’t have to answer this as the Redmond giant already has a way of knowing by snooping on your computer when you’re connected to the Internet. Solutions? There are lots but this one’s the coolest: Say goodbye to Windows and install any Linux or any *BSD distribution instead. (I use Ubuntu.)