Microsoft has admitted that its program for testing whether a PC is running a genuine copy of Windows or not is now being automatically distributed to users’ PCs as a test version.
A number of users have claimed that the Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) software has bugs in it and is causing their PC to inform them that their machine is running counterfeit software, when it is not.
Microsoft has also been accused of distributing the program by the back door, as a result of installing the software as a “high priority” automatic update for Windows.
Test versions of Microsoft software are usually only installed once the user has signed up for them. Microsoft said that users can opt out of downloading the WGA Notifications update, and that its user licence makes it clear that the program is pre-release software. Most users, however, do not read the fine print of a user licence before downloading software.
The WGA program is a major plank of Microsoft’s strategy to clamp down on counterfeit Windows software, so the company is keen to get as many users as possible to load it. But users have complained of bugs in WGA since the program made its first appearance last year. Microsoft maintains that WGA Notifications has been tested and is ready for use.
Microsoft also says that WGA counterfeit alerts are usually always activated by counterfeit software being present on users’ machines: sometimes without them knowing it.
The final version of WGA Notifications is expected to be rolled out worldwide by the end of the year.