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Windows Operating Systems Software Bug Microsoft IT

Windows Genuine Advantage Servers Out 300

krewemaynard writes to let us know that Microsoft has been having major problems with its WGA servers since at least Friday evening. Quoting Ars: "Users of both Windows XP and Windows Vista were writing to say that they could not validate their installations using WGA, and one user even said that his installation was invalidated by the service... The Microsoft WGA Forums are full of problem reports, and Microsoft WGA Program Manager Phil Liu has acknowledged that there is a problem, and that MS is investigating." Update: 07/25 22:10 GMT by KD :Microsoft has identified and fixed the problem and posted instructions for anyone whose system mistakenly failed a WGA check. (The link posted earlier was to a 2006 article.)
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Windows Genuine Advantage Servers Out

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  • HaHa (Score:5, Funny)

    by jo42 ( 227475 ) on Saturday August 25, 2007 @03:26PM (#20355461) Homepage
    > "However, the sense we get from Phil Liu is that Microsoft is pretty much in the dark right now."

    Nothing new here. Move along.
    • Aren't? (Score:4, Funny)

      by Jeremiah Cornelius ( 137 ) * on Saturday August 25, 2007 @04:26PM (#20355937) Homepage Journal
      Aren't these servers dependent on availability of the Skype protocol? :-)
      • Re:Aren't? (Score:4, Funny)

        by sumdumass ( 711423 ) on Saturday August 25, 2007 @11:15PM (#20358531) Journal
        It wasn't the Skype systems going down that caused this. The WGA servers failed themselves in their check for legitimacy and no one installed a legal copy so after a certain period of time, the WGA software shut the Internet connections off to get their attention and force Microsoft to buy a legit copy again.
  • WGA sucks (Score:5, Insightful)

    by The Bungi ( 221687 ) * <> on Saturday August 25, 2007 @03:27PM (#20355475) Homepage
    I like and use Microsoft software, especially the development tools and servers, and I've (almost) always considered they are worth the money. But WGA is the most stupid thing Microsoft has ever done. I could understand product activation to a certain extent - it's really no different than most commercial software protection schemes in most respects. But WGA needs to be killed off. WGA is a hell of a lot closer to treating customers like criminals than WPA ever was.

    Personally I've never had problems with WPA or WGA, but this incident pisses me off just thinking about how pissed off I would be if that would ever happen to me. Microsoft needs to understand that there are limits to how much bullshit people can take, even among people who appreciate some of their software.

    On the other hand it's not like I'd switch to Linux anyway. Ubuntu completely screwed up my X configuration after an apt-get upgrade that took two hours (6.x to 7.4) and I just shut the thing down. I need to move my FreeNAS to a better box anyway so that's what I'll probably do after wiping it. If I had a dime for every time I've typed su vim /etc/X11/xorg.conf I'd get me an iPhone or something.

    Lack of choices suck too.

    • Ubuntu completely screwed up my X configuration after an apt-get upgrade that took two hours (6.x to 7.4) and I just shut the thing down.
      While that sucks, you do understand that an entire system upgrade like that is almost certain to have problems no matter what the OS? Any chance it was an nvidia card? Their damn closed drivers have fucked me over a handful of times too.
      • Get Xandros. I upgraded my laptop over the course of two years from 3.0 to 4.1 business and it has never given me a bit of trouble. Plus it is the only one out of the 60+ distros I've tried that was hassle free when it came to my broadcom 4318 wireless card.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by arth1 ( 260657 )

      On the other hand it's not like I'd switch to Linux anyway. Ubuntu completely screwed up my X configuration after an apt-get upgrade that took two hours (6.x to 7.4) and I just shut the thing down. I need to move my FreeNAS to a better box anyway so that's what I'll probably do after wiping it.

      This prompts the question of why on earth you're running NAS on a box with a head anyhow? If you're going to use a box for a NAS server, hooking up a graphics card to it is counter-productive, and using a typical GUI

      • by SendBot ( 29932 )
        I have a multipurpose headless server that I use for things. I does literally have no video output whatsoever, but I did once have to plug in a agp vid card long enough to find out why it wasn't booting (a bios thing), so it's not completely useless to have video. Makes me wish you could still pick up a pci video card for $5 at places.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by hairyfeet ( 841228 )
          While it's agp and not pci,most boards made in the last 10 years have an agp,so here you go. ItemDetail&item=CRD10801 []
        • by arth1 ( 260657 )
          That, and doing BIOS setting changes, including turning off on-board audio/parallel/serial/usb if not used, and allowing boot to proceed without a keyboard/mouse, is a good reason to keep a nice sturdy PCI card around to temporarily put it in a box if ever needed. Old Matrox Millennium cards are my favourites -- they seem to be reliable (working well a dozen years after they came out) and not conflict with anything else.
          I hope that for quite some time to come, motherboard manufacturers will continue to put
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Ajehals ( 947354 )

          Makes me wish you could still pick up a pci video card for $5 at places.

          It cant be just me who has a shelf full of pci video cards. Or maybe I should start throwing legacy kit out (my current laptop is a 500Mhz Dell, simply because its little, light and just keeps going - 2 batteries give me 5-6 hours of usage, and there are two bays...) but I just cant bear to get rid of stiff that could be useful to me or someone else...

          Hell the pile of semi working laptops I have sat here very from a powerbook 100 (still works) through a dell latitude ( I think a 166 Mhz processor) through

          • by arth1 ( 260657 )
            I tend to keep at least one of each type of hardware -- and usually the most reliable one, and not the fanciest one. I just tossed out a couple of ATI 9600 XT and Pro 3D cards, while keeping an older plain 2D card. Likewise, I keep a sturdy old clonker keyboard around, but will gladly toss away anything that came bundled with a computer.
      • by jimicus ( 737525 )
        This prompts the question of why on earth you're running NAS on a box with a head anyhow? If you're going to use a box for a NAS server, hooking up a graphics card to it is counter-productive, and using a typical GUI-based distro likewise. It's something that people brought up in the Microsoft way of thinking might do, but if relegating an old PC to become a NAS, the first thing I would do is get rid of anything I don't need, including graphics cards, whose main purpose in a server is to collect dust and in
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by The Bungi ( 221687 ) *
        No, my NAS is a headless Fedora server install running on another, older box. The one that was running Ubuntu is beefier, so that's where I'm going to move NAS to.

        That box also has my SVN repo but not much else, so it's never had X installed at all.

        • by arth1 ( 260657 )
          Ah, that explains it, then. From your original post, I understood it that an Ubuntu upgrade made your NAS box stop working due to an xorg.conf change (which didn't make much sense to me)...
    • by malraid ( 592373 )
      I would much rather deal with a broken X conf than with the crap I have to put up with WGA. It was a NAS server, I'm sure it was still serving even without a GUI.
    • by bcmm ( 768152 )
      Sssh! Don't say you want an iPhone! They'll mod you troll!
      • I do, as long as it's unlocked and carrying a T-Mobile SIM card. And looks like I might just get my wish now :)
        • by bcmm ( 768152 )

          It was a joke. The real reason you got troll mods was for liking Microsoft, not Apple.
    • After two years I'm still not sure which part of the word "advantage" applies to me...

    • moderators: parent is not a troll. You may not agree with his opinion, but it's perfectly valid.
    • Re:WGA sucks (Score:4, Insightful)

      by BlueParrot ( 965239 ) on Saturday August 25, 2007 @06:56PM (#20357249)

      Ubuntu completely screwed up my X configuration after an apt-get upgrade that took two hours (6.x to 7.4) and I just shut the thing down.

      So let me see here.

      a) You didn't read the upgrade instructions but simply assumed Ubuntu = Debian and tried to manually switch versions using apt-get.
      b) Even on Debian upgrading between versions is done using dist-upgrade rather than upgrade.
      c) You got lazy and interrupted the process halfway through
      d) The only problem you had was that you had to reconfigure X

      Now, let us hypothetically assume that Windows had a package manager that let you upgrade from XP to Vista over the net. Let us further assume that instead of following the instructions for how to use it, you run a low-level tool with incorrect command line parameters to do it the way you would have done it on a completely different system. Let us finally assume you interrupted the thing halfway through. How much do you want to bet that fixing your display settings would be the only problem you would experience as a consequence?

      In a word: PEBKAC
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by sumdumass ( 711423 )

      Personally I've never had problems with WPA or WGA,

      I have had the WGA haunt me. It comes in at the startup/login screen telling you your version of windows is pirated. It then bugs you some more about it. It offers a link to fix the problem but it is a link to a site that tells you your running a stolen version of windows and attempts to blame it on your tech support for fixing your computer with pirated software and then it says you could have bought it from a vendor who isn't reputable and could have pi

    • Oh boy (Score:3, Funny)

      by kc2keo ( 694222 )
      Thats a Genuine Disadvantage.
  • Liability (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nurb432 ( 527695 ) on Saturday August 25, 2007 @03:28PM (#20355479) Homepage Journal
    Too bad they are not liable for any costs/lost revenue by their customers that are caused by this.

    Too bad it doesn't happen more often, and piss off more people.

    Personally it doesnt effect me either way :)
    • by B5_geek ( 638928 )
      The funny thing about your statement is that is EXACTLY why I can't get my company to install Linux on the desktops. ...."But who could we sue if something breaks?"....

      Yes I know that the EULA prevents MS from getting sued anyhow, but these damned PHBs are mentally impaired.

    • by Shados ( 741919 )
      If you just buy the licenses retail, you're right. But large corporations can (and often do) have contracts with MS for stuff like that. The last place I worked for did.

      Never needed it actually, but its in the contract.
  • Slashdot Delay (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 25, 2007 @03:29PM (#20355481)
    Of course, by the time it hits Slashdot, WGA is operational again. Digg and Reddit have had this on the FP for hours
  • by ivoras ( 455934 ) <ivoras.fer@hr> on Saturday August 25, 2007 @03:29PM (#20355497) Homepage
    A friend of mine was immediately reminded of the Fight Club movie - how they tried to blow up all the banks at the end so nobody would owe anybody anything. Imagine if some digital vigilante wiped out Microsoft's database of keys, maybe like an inside job... all installs everywhere would simply be invalidated in an instant :) Now *that* would be a strong and immediate demonstration of both how the whole "activation" thing and DRM are wrong.

    Man can dream...

    • by marcello_dl ( 667940 ) on Saturday August 25, 2007 @03:37PM (#20355559) Homepage Journal
      But I guess they already know WGA and DRM are wrong... for the consumer. Remember this outage cost much more to the consumer than they cost to them, at least until people begin considering the painless alternatives.
      • by JFMulder ( 59706 )
        considering the painless alternatives.
        Since when is Linux or MacOS painless? Each platform have their share of frustration.
    • by no_pets ( 881013 ) on Saturday August 25, 2007 @03:48PM (#20355655)
      The Data Retention committee of Project Mayhem is working on this - but you didn't hear that from me.
    • by Niten ( 201835 )

      Not having used Windows for a while, can someone clarify what the consequences of a WGA "invalidation" would be? Once invalidated, is there a straightforward way to revalidate a Windows installation?

      • by Shados ( 741919 )
        Yeah, you can have fun revalidating your windows every 5 minutes if you want, be it valid or not (you can reenter the key at will).

        For example the copy of Vista that was provided to me by my workplace didn't get activated correctly on first try for whatever reason. I just reentered it (the exact same one) later on from home and it fixed it, simple as that.
    • by Bearhouse ( 1034238 ) on Saturday August 25, 2007 @05:10PM (#20356419)
      Do you mean 'wrong' as in 'immoral', or 'wrong' as in 'does not work'?

      Personally, I think it's both.

      Like many people here, (I imagine), I change hardware frequently, and am also cursed with being my neighbours', friends', childrens' software and hardware support. So I get this 'activation' bs regularly. Have you ever tried fixing a system that was delivered with a 'recovery' CD, that tries to access some (corrupt) partition etc...of course, no 'original' installation CDs

      How long before you cut your losses and install from one of your 'corp.' CDs, or - if it's not in the family - download some streamlined thing from isohunt? Believe me, its 10x quicker than going the ms way. Shit, it's not even as if they or I did not BUY the software in the first place... Anybody want a load of VALID ms serials - you can have 'em...

      The real problem is that 'activation' punishes the honest user, whilst doing little or nothing to stop the pirates... /end rant.

  • good thing (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    The masses need to get hurt before they come to the conclusion that giving full control over your PC to a commercial entity is not a good idea.

    lets hope it lasts a few more weeks or so.
  • by Torodung ( 31985 ) on Saturday August 25, 2007 @03:32PM (#20355515) Journal
    To all those people who say "Nothing can go wrong with the system" and "I've never had a problem with activation."

    This [] (redundant link) is what can go wrong, and it was only a matter of time. There is no such thing as an unsinkable ship. I believe in Murphy's Law, so long as you add the word "eventually" to the end of it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 25, 2007 @03:35PM (#20355543)
    is that they're calling the people that sell their software thieves. They are biting the hands that feed them. One of our customers bought a copy at Fry's, and when they called Microsoft about the problem, Microsoft accused Fry's of selling pirated software. Accusing the people that make money for you is a good way to kill a business.
    • Monopolies breed arrogance. I quit IBM in the 80's because all my bosses seemed to be concerned about was politics.

      The customer was always wrong - just a source of revenue. But when you're making 75% net margin, (yup - NET), on some hardware, hell, why not get lazy and arrogant?

      I joined a software house, and, years later, was in the sad position of telling some of my former colleagues why they were unemployable.

      Gonna happen to Ms.

  • by puck01 ( 207782 ) on Saturday August 25, 2007 @03:36PM (#20355551)
    This whole concept of authentication and WGA is flawed. It adds too many points of failure that in the end hurts legitimate users. Why should we be punished for MS's piracy problems.

    For me it started with XP. Since I can no longer interchange parts in and out of my computer without worrying about setting off the authentication, I've worked hard to get my myself and my family off Windows. I'm the computer dork in the family and if I can't trouble shoot stuff without worrying about this kind of stuff it sort of kills the fun in building your own machines.

    I'm not surprised this is happening and I won't be surprised when this stuff continues to happen in the future. Please get rid of these awful 'features' Microsoft
    • by einer ( 459199 )
      Please Microsoft ignore this man's plea. For the love of GOD you're advancing the plight of open source software by decades at a time with shit like this!
  • it's a wonder any company can get anything done with Windows.

    Corporations need to realize that making Bill the richest guy in the world is not the most effective use of their IT capital. Just imagine if all those license fees, the cost of downtime for malware attacks, the cost of license following, the cost of unnecessary servers due to lack of scalability, etc., ad nauseum, had been diverted to open source development. Microsoft would be out of business now.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Just imagine if all those license fees, the cost of downtime for malware attacks, the cost of license following, the cost of unnecessary servers due to lack of scalability, etc., ad nauseum, had been diverted to open source development. Microsoft would be out of business now.

      You have a very good point indeed - put it probably proves something other than what you expected.

      Commercial software companies like Microsoft have spent a lot more resources on shaping their products into finished stand-alone packages that actually WORK... without the requiring the user to read five or six 800-pages O'Reiley books about advanced protocols or client/server APIs. So precisely because these companies HAVE spent their license fees on development that appeals to their customers, they are do

  • eggs in one basket (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SolusSD ( 680489 ) on Saturday August 25, 2007 @03:49PM (#20355669) Homepage
    monoculture == dangerous!!
  • by Torodung ( 31985 ) on Saturday August 25, 2007 @03:53PM (#20355685) Journal
    Phil Liu details a workaround here, third post down. []

    Please go to and click VALIDATE WINDOWS to resolve this issue immediately.

    Additionally, I know you all are looking for an explanation/root-cause. I will get that ASAP. We are aware it is a server-side issue - the cause is unknown at this current time.
    Best of luck to all you Vista users.

  • by atamyrat ( 980611 ) on Saturday August 25, 2007 @03:53PM (#20355695)
    Damn it, it is broken?! I want to benefit from this Advantage program! They should open source WGA. Bugs would be fixed immediately by volunteers, so we can enjoy it without problems!
    I'm switching to Linux Genuine Advantage(TM) [], guys. It is better and open-source!
  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Saturday August 25, 2007 @03:54PM (#20355709) Homepage
    Turn on all the machines! Log in! Get those machines invalidated as quickly as possible.
  • Repay the compliment (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jeevesbond ( 1066726 ) on Saturday August 25, 2007 @03:57PM (#20355737) Homepage

    Microsoft frequently shill online forums, they're even attacking the venerable ISO! From this Groklaw article []:

    And if it were me, I'd want to know if there is any Microsoft shadow in the background. Someone placed a threatening comment on Groklaw the other day, saying someday the "darkness" behind PJ would be revealed, and to "sleep well", and because of the threatening tone, I checked the logs and the comment appears to have come from an ad agency that does a lot of work for Microsoft. So I am wondering about things I didn't think about before. I remember what happened to an innocent man's reputation in the Massachusetts ODF affair.

    So, this would seem like the ideal time to feed them some of their own medicine. Get over to the WGA forums [] and do some pro GNU+Linux astroturfing. Here was my message:

    I came here not because I have a problem but because the mainstream media is starting to pick up on this issue, I suspect that pressure on MS to fix the problem will tremendously increase once this hits a few news/social networking sites.

    The reason I'm not having any issues? I use Ubuntu and have the pleasure of knowing my OS and computer are owned by me. Maybe a few people here should give it a try: you never know, it might work! If it doesn't, all you've wasted are a couple of hours when you couldn't use Vista anyway.

    Either way, I hope these problems get fixed for you guys soon.

    As long as you're polite and make a point it can only help the adoption of Free software. Show these people that we're not zealots and offer them a way out of the WGA doldrums! :)

    • As long as you're polite and make a point it can only help the adoption of Free software. Show these people that we're not zealots and offer them a way out of the WGA doldrums!

      It sounds like your heart is in the right place, but I don't think the Windows users will see astroturfers in the WGA forums as non-zealots. You're actually making the Linux users sound like the guys who post things like, "I don't even own a TV, and now I my quality of life has improved 10-fold" in TV-related topics. That's all well and good, but it doesn't solve their problem. They want to use windows, and even though linux doesn't have to deal with the WGA bs, it's not windows. I think we really nee

  • Microsoft fanboi (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ctid ( 449118 ) on Saturday August 25, 2007 @04:09PM (#20355827) Homepage
    JohninTN's contribution to that forum is just funny. He seems to think that people should just "calm down" when the functionality that they have paid (rather a lot of money) for suddenly doesn't work because of some MS boneheadedness. His attitude in this thread [] is quite amazing, in my opinion.

  • Big bugs like this are awesome because they make the smaller ones that I generate on daily basis look like cow fodder. However I suspect no bug is necessarily bigger or smaller but it's the scale of how many people/users are affected. Oh how I wish my apps had that large of an installed base. Fingers crossed and wish upon a star.
  • true story (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Kristoph ( 242780 ) on Saturday August 25, 2007 @04:22PM (#20355907)
    I actually had this happen to me:

    - A Vista installation at a company I work with 'invalidated'.
    - I called Microsoft.
    - A person named Josh, who had quite an Indian accent as well as a speech impediment answered and after MUCH effort I provided the information required. (Please note I have the greatest respect for people of Indian decent as well as people with speech impediments but you can, I am sure, appreciate how this makes communication difficult.)
    - A few minutes later he came back on and said that 'Microsoft is currently having computer problem' and please can I call back later.

    In fairness, 2 days later the machine automatically revalidated but the whole thing was rather comedic.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 25, 2007 @04:29PM (#20355959)
    I never install copy protected software, since I feel that it validates my right to use the software that I have paid for.
    If i was buying the software on a lease/maintenance agreement, things might be different, but Windows is VERY expensive, and rather poor quality. I know of no other server OS that needs frequent reboots to correct weird slowdowns, and strange resource leaks.
    I am just glad that I switched to Linux when Microsoft went down the product activation route with Windows XP. They cleary think that their customers are criminals, and i'm sure most of their customers have a similar opinion of Microsoft for delivering substandard products and exercising criminally monopolistic practices.
    Good ridance Microsoft. I don't miss you.
  • by malraid ( 592373 ) on Saturday August 25, 2007 @04:30PM (#20355989)
    I really love these "features" that prevent users from using their computers. I can't remember how many times I had to troubleshoot licensing problems in NetWare. Windows NT and 2000 used to be quite trouble free regarding this kind of crap. But now with WGA I'm making money off copy protection again. Right now I'm migrating a server from Windows 2000 to Linux for a client for that very reason. Thanks for giving me business, Microsoft.
  • Switch (Score:2, Funny)

    This doesn't seem to affect my Ubuntu installation and my iBook is also unaffected.
  • Who let's themselves be treated this way? You wouldn't let Ford decide whether you could shift past 2nd gear based on your lease payments being up to date. What the fuck is wrong with you people?
  • God let this be a huge disasterous boondoggle for Microsoft. Please please please please please. I don't even believe in you God, but if you're up there, and you're a Just God, you will hear this and smite their backups with a bolt of bitrot.

    If I go into work on Monday and everyone's computer is running in "restricted mode" it will be MUCH easier to convince my boss to let me get rid of our last remaining MSSQL instance.
  • by gelfling ( 6534 ) on Saturday August 25, 2007 @04:58PM (#20356303) Homepage Journal
    A court agreeing with Microsoft that you do not own your own computer you merely license it.
  • WGA *IS* the problem.
  • by SeaFox ( 739806 ) on Saturday August 25, 2007 @05:33PM (#20356619)
    Isn't it interesting that the government doesn't consider systems like WGA a threat to national security?

    The dangers of software monoculture are well known, now combine that with an authentication system the government has no control over. Once the entire Windows desktop marketshare (+90% of all desktops) is using a Windows OS featuring WGA, what's to stop criminals and terrorists from capturing the datacenters that house these servers and holding a major factor in world finance hostage?
  • by tji ( 74570 ) on Saturday August 25, 2007 @05:48PM (#20356731)
    I didn't realize WGA did periodic (constant?) checks on the system validity. I thought it was just a one-time check at installation (like entering the product ID on Win2K). That's hilarious that you can pay MS hundreds of dollar for the software, only to have it crippled when they screw up and accuse you of being a thief.

    Why do people use that crap?
  • Just the fact that this forum [] even exists, shows how defective by design WGA is. A dedicated forum to WGA problems with 226 PAGES with 20 TOPICS each... I still cannot understand why people keep buying this crap...

Evolution is a million line computer program falling into place by accident.