Windows Genuine Advantage False Positives

Windows Genuine Advantage has been a big problem from Windows users, and I’m sure, it’s been a big pain in Microsoft’s behind. Looking in Microsoft’s WGA Validation Problems forum you’ll see well over 2,200 posts on the subject, and lots of unhappy people. Ed Bott of Microsoft Report has posted many items concerning WGA, and one of the most recent ones can give you an idea of how many people are getting fasle positives.

Even a casual reading of the posts at the WGA Validation Problems forum makes it clear that WGA has serious problems. But Microsoft refuses to share any hard data about WGA installations, making it impossible for independent observers to quantify the extent of the problems. Until now, that is.

With the help of a researcher, I went through a sample of 137 recent problem reports from actual Windows users, posted publicly on the WGA Validation Problems forum. Our research was the online equivalent of listening in to two weeks worth of calls to Microsoft’s support lines. The results we found directly contradict Microsoft’s insistence that “only a handful of actual false positives have been seen.”

According to our analysis, 42% of the people who experienced problems with WGA and reported those problems to Microsoft’s public forums during that period were actually running Genuine Microsoft Windows. That’s not just our opinion, either. Those statistics were reported by the Redmond-approved Microsoft Genuine Advantage Diagnostic utility.

42% is a lot of false positives. I’ve never had any trouble with WGA myself, and we haven’t at any of our client computers either, but that doesn’t mean it won’t or it hasn’t. He points out problems with Mcafee’s QuickClean registry cleaner, and people who were getting cryptographic errors, which has been solved, even if it is a little tedious for most users to do.

The only word from Microsoft to him was an email sent after he had already left the office that day, he posted it in a follow up message, here,

The Windows XP Validation tools are very accurate at determining if a copy of Windows is genuine or not. We have found that many customers who originally felt their copy of Windows XP had been inaccurately labeled as non-genuine were surprised to learn that they were indeed running non-genuine software, often at no fault of their own. Microsoft works closely with these unknowing victims to remedy the situation. The false positive rate for WGA Validation failure is a fraction of one percent, and in these cases a bug was at fault and repaired shortly after. We are constantly evaluating the criteria for validation and are confident that validation results are accurate.

Another one of those “nothing to see here”, nothing wrong messages we usually get from big corporations. Microsoft has definitely failed it’s users when it comes to WGA.