Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) nag screen

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Tom Keating
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Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) nag screen

One of my blog posts discussing Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) has a ton of comments, from users apparently running allegedly "pirated" copies of Windows XP. I say "allegedly" since I myself have encountered a situation where I lost a restore CD or had a PC that didn't come with a Windows XP CD - instead the CD image was loaded on a hidden partition which I promptly deleted to recover the disk space. With no disk image or CD to reload Windows (a common occurence), I then "borrowed" someone else's Windows XP CD and product key. Do I feel guilty about doing this? Not in the least, since I paid for my copy of Windows XP, therefore I don't consider this "piracy", though the law may say otherwise.

In case you weren't aware, Microsoft has been cracking down on people "sharing" their product keys with their family/friends or downloading a copy on P2P networks. Microsft's latest crack at stopping piracy was to institute WGA notifications, which effectively turned the Microsoft Windows XP operating system into nagware, by displaying "This copy of Windows is not genuine" warning. The Windows Genuine Advantage Notifications application checks your Microsoft Windows XP validity and if it deems it not validated, not genuine, counterfeit, unlicensed, pirated, illegal, unauthorised or simply failed the Windows Genuine Advantage validation process, then the notification nag messages will appear.

When you attempt to log on to a non-genuine copy of Windows XP, you'll see this notification error message "This copy of Windows is not genuine..." as seen here:



It also displays this nag message as a yellow balloon tool-tip in the lower-right-hand System Tray taskbar with the nag message, "This copy of Windows is not genuine. Click this balloon to resolve now."

This got me wondering exactly how much Microsoft would charge someone who wants to change their "counterfeit" copy of Windows XP to a legit "genuine" copy. So I went to Microsoft's Get Genuine website and found this:

Complimentary offer: Microsoft will make a complimentary copy of Windows XP available to customers who have been sold counterfeit Windows. Customers will be required to submit a proof of purchase, the counterfeit CD, and a counterfeit report with details of their purchase. Only high-quality counterfeit Windows will qualify for the complimentary offer.


Read the bold part. "Only high-qualtiy counterfeit Windows will qualify for a complimentary offer." So I guess my cheap-ass burned copy with a Sharpie pen markings on it labelling the product key doesn't count? LOL!

I guess this means if you want a "free" copy of Windows XP you'll need to find a high-quality bootleg copy of Windows XP including a forged hologram. I take it Microsoft only wants to offer a "free" copy to those that were "accidentally" taken by counterfeiters. I wonder if NYC has high-quality boot-leg copies or if only the Asian market has the high-quality bootleg CDs?

In any event, if you can't figure out how to bypass the Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) nag screen, or if you are simply feeling guilty for not giving Bill Gates his money, you can be "genuine" by sending Microsft $99 for Windows XP Home Edition or $149 for Windows XP Professional - no questions asked, as seen by this offer:
Electronic License Key Offer: Microsoft will offer an alternative for customers who find out via the WGA validation process that they are not running genuine Windows, but do not qualify for, or choose not to take advantage of, the complimentary offer. These customers will be able to license a Windows Genuine Advantage Kit for Windows XP online for a price of $99 for Windows XP Home edition or $149 for Windows XP Professional. The Windows Genuine Advantage Kit for Windows XP will include a new 25-character Product Key and a Windows Product Key Update tool that will allow customers to convert their counterfeit copy to genuine Windows XP electronically.


I wonder if Microsoft's stock will shoot up next quarter as a result of this "nagware"? If you are a legit or even non-legit Windows XP user and have a horror story to tell regarding Microsoft's licensing, feel free to post a comment.


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