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Microsoft faces class action over anti-piracy tools

Tash Shifrin

Microsoft faces a class action lawsuit in the US over its Windows Genuine Advantage anti-piracy tools.

It is claimed that Microsoft’s actions broke state consumer protection and anti-spyware laws.

He is challenging the software giant over changes to the way the WGA tool, designed to test whether users have a licensed version of the operating system, is delivered to users. The software was first offered to users as an optional download in 2004.

But papers filed with the US District Court for the Western District of Washington allege, “Beginning in April 2006, Microsoft dramatically expanded the purpose, nature and functionality of WGA. Microsoft also altered the means by which the program was delivered to users’ computers. These alterations violated the law in several respects.”

Instead of clearly labeling the software as an anti-piracy download option, the firm described it as an “update” in its package of automatic security updates. Users were given “false or misleading information” about what the program would do once installed, the lawsuit claims.

“Unbeknownst to users”, the WGA program contains functions that communicate information about the users computer back to Microsoft, the filed papers say.

Microsoft admitted last month that WGA was now being automatically distributed to users’ PCs as a test version. Users have complained that the software has been distributed by the backdoor and contains bugs.


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