Windows Vista WGA Validation Problems Mount

Remember all of the trouble users have had with Windows Genuine Advantage program? It appears some similar problems are cropping up, if you take a look at Windows Vista Validation Issues (Windows Vista) there are over 200 posts detailing problems already, a lot of them appear to be caused by three programs, PC Tools Spyware Doctor (updating to the most recent version fixes the issue), Trend Micro Internet Security and PC-Cillin Anti-Virus (the issue goes away if you install version 14.56 or later), and nProtect GameGuard. The last one is a big problem, as gaming vendors have to get the patch and integrate it to fix the problem. Not good if you are a victim.

The underlying issues were identified by Microsoft a few days after Vista’s release to manufacturing last November and publicly disclosed in this post on the Windows Vista Validation Issues forum:

There are several threads in this forum that refer to Error 0xc004d401 causing non-genuine status or preventing activation. In those threads, we have discussed 3 applications that have been identified as conflicting with Vista software licensing technology (which causes the issue). Source: Problems arise with Vista?s validation

Ed has been detailing WGA problems for awhile now, so it is only fitting that he lead us into the problems with Vista now. He also points us to a post from the Vista Knowledge Base website, detailing troubles installing 9dragons.

I am playing the game when all of a sudden I get popped out of my game back to desktop with a message that my copy of Vista isn’t Genuine. Now I have the receipt, the box it came in, and the hole in my bank account to prove that I do indeed have a legal copy. It turns out that if you install a program your copies of Windows Vista will unactivate itself. I am livid, where does Microsoft get off telling me what I can put on my personal PC? I have been a Wintel network administrator going on 11 years now, and this just seems so over the top. Source: Windows Vista Activation Goes Too Far

I am assuming that 9dragons uses the nProtect GameGuard, but I don’t know this for sure, that website doesn’t list any reasons he thinks it happened, just that uninstalling it fixed the problem. Update: The game does use nProtect, as he notes in another blog post here, Windows Vista Activation Goes Too Far – Part 2. nProtect has been accused of acting like a rootkit, so that is probably why Vista sees it as a bad thing.

Microsoft has published a kb article detailing some reasons you may have to activate on a computer that you didn’t have to activate on before.

You may be prompted to activate Windows Vista on a computer on which Windows Vista activation was not previously required. Although this problem rarely occurs, it may occur during typical use of a Windows Vista-based computer. For example, this problem may occur under one or more of the following conditions:
You install a device driver.
You install a program.
You run a new program.
You remove a program.

This problem may occur because a specific system setting is removed when a program runs with administrative credentials. The removal of this system setting may cause a BIOS validation check to fail. The BIOS validation check is part of the system activation process. Therefore, you may be prompted to activate Windows Vista, even though the system did not previously require activation. For example, this problem is known to occur when you use Intuit QuickBooks 2007. However, this problem may also infrequently occur when you install other programs or device drivers. Source: You may be prompted to activate Windows Vista on a computer on which Windows Vista activation was not previously required

Download and install this patch to fix this problem or to prevent this from happening to you.

A post by from Information Week details troubles he had with Vista, a copy he received from Microsoft, a copy he had already validated.

My troubles began when I booted up my Vista box for the first time in a couple of weeks. (I still use XP on my main machine. I was thinking of moving over to the new system; now, I’m not so sure.) After booting up, I got a message that my activation period had “expired,” and I would have to reactivate. Even though I had previously — and successfully — activated my copy of Windows Vista, this gave me only the slightest pause, since it was a minor glitch not out of the ordinary from what one might expect with a new operating system.

Did I want to re-activate over the Internet? Of course! Alas, that was not to be; apparently my copy of Vista wasn’t genuine, at least according to my PC. (Did I mention that, as a tech reviewer, I got my copy of Vista directly from Microsoft?) My PC did tell me that I could enter a new product key if I wanted to. (That, and $450, will get you a new copy Vista.) Er, no. Source: Vista Still Seems Buffeted By Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) ‘False Positives’

More info and help in the following Microsoft articles:

Troubleshooting activation problems

Frequently asked questions

Activation polices and Reduced Functionality Mode

The WGA Blog has a post answering questions on how many copies are flagged as being not genuine, etc, but they don’t really give any numbers, More on: WGA False Positives. It does note that some New WGA Notifications rolling out… soon.