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Is Windows Spying On You?

Microsoft makes no secret of the fact that its Windowssoftware is heavily pirated around the globe. Even so,the company did hide a tidbit about its WGA (WindowsGenuine Advantage) program, which Microsoft uses to confirmthat people are using legitimate copies of Windows XP.

Since last year, Windows users have been required toinstall WGA in order to download any Windows updatesother than critical updates (users can still download thosecritical patches without installing WGA). If WGA detectsan unofficial copy of Windows, the program sends alerts tothe user during startup, login, and regular usage of the OS(operating system).

However, Microsoft recently admitted that WGA doesn’tjust confirm that Windows copies are genuine, but that it alsophones home. According to Microsoft, the program secretlycontacts Microsoft every couple of weeks to ensure that theprogram is still working correctly, a feature that the companyclaims is necessary because the program is in a testing phase.

In addition to voicing concerns that the notification featurecould lead to security leaks, some Windows users claim that WGA has flagged their legitimate Windows copies as piratedand now subsequently bombards them with alerts. Forits part, Microsoft says that although it understands that customersmight be concerned, WGA is safe to install and use.