Genuine Advantage is Microsoft spyware

From the current Windows Secrets newsletter, by Brian Livingston, (scroll down a bit), emphasis added.

Windows Genuine Advantage — the controversial program Microsoft auto-installed as a “critical security update” on many PCs starting on Apr. 25 — not only causes problems for many users but has now been proven to send personally identifiable information back to Redmond every 24 hours.

This behavior clearly fits any plausible definition of “spyware.”

What we’ve found about WGA fits neatly into four behaviors that are typical of all spyware:

1. Lack of disclosure before installation.
2. Transmits data to a central computer.
3. Downloads other software and morphs itself.
4. Cannot easily be uninstalled.

Gates leaves, the delivery date for Vista (the next generation of Windows) is delayed yet again, now this, which at the very least will be a PR nightmare for Microsoft among the highly influential tech community. And deservedly so.

WGA is forced upon your computer. If you want Windows Updates you have no real alternative but to install it.

  • Daniel Rivera-Franqui

    Say it with me: Ubuntu Linux 6.06!

    I’ve been using it at home and even though there’s a learning curve and sometimes I have to use the uber-geeky Terminal Console (I like using it sometimes anyway), I don’t worry much about viruses and such. Also, any updates to packages or patches and such are easy to apply and, best of all, NO NEED to restart for each stupid thing you install or move or whatever.

    I use it for software development, music, video, browsing, etc. I have my laptop for whenever I have to use Windows, but I’d say I’m very comfortable with Linux right now.

  • I’ve just found it on my computer. I’m not in a position to switch operating systems at the moment. Does anyone know what information it sends and if there is a safe way to get rid of it? I’m not paticularly techy so I don’t know what kind of a mess I’ll get into if I try to remove it. There appear to be 8 files that come up in differend locations if you search “WGA”. This really sucks.

  • Bob

    The Windows Secrets article says, do not try to remove it. You can’t, and will probably just screw things up.

    It didn’t specifically say what was being transmitted.

    It should be noted that Windows Secrets is highly respected.

  • Thanks Bob,

    I guess I’ll just leave it alone and hope that my personal information is deemed too boring to be of any use to Microsoft 🙂

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