The much-disliked Windows Genuine Advantage is like all anti-piracy software: it makes life miserable for legal customers while failing to halt the genuine advantage of mass piracy operations.
CNET now reports that Microsoft has released a method for halting alerts generated by WGA. But it's never enough for monopolistic-minded corporations. Like most governments, Microsoft and corporations with overswollen egos want more, more, and more intrusion into the lives of their customers.
Here's a prediction you won't hear from Bill Gates: Microsoft will rename WGA and will write even more intrusive software to probe your computer(s). Like virus writers, Microsoft programmers will learn from their mistakes and the mistakes of others (like Sony getting caught with the root kit software they licensed for CDs) and eventually figure out how to be undetectable.
One reason to not upgrade software is because of new bugs that we have to suffer through. Another reason is to avoid increased surveillance by software companies. One CAD package, for example, sends a ping back to corporate headquarters each time you start the software. It's just a ping, but here's how the information can be (ab)used:
- How often their software is being used (from the number of incoming pings).
- And where (from the IP address sent with the ping).
- And at what times (from the date and time of the ping).
- And if pings are coming from locations with no licenses (IP addresses of pings matched to IP addresses collected by the online registration system).
Match the data collected from pings with the software's end user license that gives the corporation the right to send agents to search your home for illegal software, and it's easy feel the pings of paranoia.
(You can prevent software from providing information about your use by getting ZoneAlarm to block outgoing requests. Except that some programs won't run unless they can call home, such as the first release of Alibre's Xpress software.)