What You Need to Know About the “Windows Genuine Advantage” (WGA) Microsoft Anti-Piracy Program

The Internet Patrol default featured image
Share the knowledge

A couple of weeks ago Aunty reported to you that Microsoft’s new free anti-spyware came with a price: a verification of whether the version of Windows the user was trying to protect was legitimate, or pirated.

Well, this check was but one aspect of the Microsoft “Windows Genuine Advantage” program, and if you are not familiar with it, you need to be (at least if you are a Windows user).

The Windows Genuine Advantage program (herein after “WGA”) is, in Microsoft’s own words “a program designed to increase customer awareness and preference for genuine Windows XP software by highlighting the value of genuine software over counterfeit or pirated installations.”

What does this really mean? For the consumer, it means being able to take advantage of certain incentives which Microsoft is offering to those who register, validate, and active their Windows software, such as discounts off Windows add-on software.

Get New Internet Patrol Articles by Email!

The Internet Patrol is completely free, and reader-supported. Your tips via CashApp, Venmo, or Paypal are appreciated! Receipts will come from ISIPP.

CashApp us Square Cash app link

Venmo us Venmo link

Paypal us Paypal link


For Microsoft it means a method of helping to push people away from non-licensed (pirated or bootlegged) copies of Windows by, while not requiring them (yet), strongly suggesting that they validate or activate their version of Windows. Activation is when you enter your 25-character security code (from your Certificate of Authentication) when requested, which is recorded in a Microsoft-maintained database, binding that copy of Windows to your hardware, “so that no one else can use your Product Key on another PC”, Microsoft explains.

Validation is a process which allows you (them) to verify that the copy of Windows you are using to access downloads, updates, etc., is genuine by checking the authentication information, which may include the Volume License Key (VLK). Explains Microsoft, “If you choose not to validate your software, you may still obtain your requested download. However, validating now enables faster access to the Download Center in the future when validation may be required.”

The bottom line is, Microsoft is trying to get a handle on pirated versions of Windows, which is an enormous cash hemorrhage for them.

And even if (perhaps especially if) you are contributing to the problem, you can’t really blame them, can you?

Get New Internet Patrol Articles by Email!

The Internet Patrol is completely free, and reader-supported. Your tips via CashApp, Venmo, or Paypal are appreciated! Receipts will come from ISIPP.

CashApp us Square Cash app link

Venmo us Venmo link

Paypal us Paypal link


Share the knowledge

14 thoughts on “What You Need to Know About the “Windows Genuine Advantage” (WGA) Microsoft Anti-Piracy Program

  1. We are not buying XP or Vista.We are paying Bill to use it. Seems like a peculiar way to do business. I still use 2000 and will not rent XP or Vista. (He’s done the same thing with Flight Simulator X.)

  2. I’m with the others who have said that they already have or will switch to Mac or Linux. Microsoft is in too many businesses for change to happen there any time soon, but the general public is getting wiser as consumers and will not stand for this much longer.

  3. Wait until you start to deal with the new Windows Vista if you think Microsoft is bad now!!

  4. Years ago Bell Telephone used to charge for every telephone you had in your house. Cable started out like Bell Telephone, Pay for each TV hook-up.

    Today what goes on in your house is up to you. Add a phone or remove a phone. Numbers don,t matter, same price. Now you get up to 3 or 4 TV hook ups for same price.

    Microsoft should get into the 21st century and realize the number of computers in the home is none of their buisiness. if you spend money on their product you should be able to use it on any of your computers at the same time. Today Dad, Mother ,and kids have their own computers. This is just like gun control. You punish the law abider. The criminal goes free. You can pass all kind of laws but criminals ignore them . Thats why we call them criminals.

    Microsoft needs to hire some intelligent people who can understand that simple fact.


  5. I solved my problems by switching to Linux on my personal PC ,and can do anything that a Windows based PC can do , and generally better.
    I build PC’s for kids,( I use older free, or inexpensive used machines), and load Ubuntu on them, the educational programs are phenomenal, better educational programs than I have ever seen for Windows, I’m Hooked!!

  6. My next computer will be Linux based Or I’ll switch to Mac.
    I’ve had it with MS.

  7. And people laugh at me for keeping Windows 2000. When Windows 2000 goes away i’ll switch to a MAC or a Linux box. Microsoft has just gone to far with this anti piracy business plus being overpriced. Time for Microsoft to get a lesson in humanity and politeness.

  8. I bought a sealed copy of Windows XP Pro /SP2 from Amazon.
    I had it verified to be told it was an illegal copy. What do I do now?

  9. I think if Bill Gates is worth 52 Billion Dollars, then Microsoft isn’t suffering as much I they think. But I also have the same problems as the others. I have 5 PC’s in my home, not counting the ones in my office. And when I had to upgrade my HDD’s and DVD drives it was a pain in the….

  10. And what do you do if Internet Explorer suddenly stops doing the WGA check when you need to validate for downloads? The updates are working fine, but IE keeps telling me I need to install the WGA activex control, but never does. I decided to try out the FireFox WGA plugin because I really needed the download. It’s a laugh, the Firefox plugin works, but the IE activex control doesn’t.

    Microsoft being incompatible with Microsoft? But totally compatible with a third party browser? With WGA?

  11. Just a heads up so everyone is aware of it… there is already a workaround for the WGA validation process. It’s quite easy to use a generated VLK key and still pass.

  12. My machine is in a constant state of upgrading..3 mobo’s,2cpu’s,3 Sound,2 mem,2 IDE HDs,a scsi bus with 4 drives,a cd burner,a dvd,2 network cards, and a tv card all in the last 2 1/2 years. I don’t think i should have to inform MS everytime I upgrade. Ending piracy is nice, but not at the cost of my privacy. I’m sure alot of “intellectual property” went into building my Chevy as well, but i expect to be able to do repairs and upgrades to it without contacting GM to let them know what I have done. And after putting new tires on it, I certainly expect it to STILL RUN!! Maybe greed has caused MS to lose perspective. After all, Windows is just a GUI for the computer, its not a part of the computer itself. MS should be happy that people are willing to purchase and use their products, but demanding that they be kept informed of everyones modifications in order to prevent possible piracy is going a wee bit far.
    “Whats That? Is it the Voice of Reason?”

  13. What happens is that you have to call a Microsoft 1-800 number and justify your activation. I had this happen after replacing my son’s mainboard (which required a Windows reinstall). The assumption by the support person I phoned was that I was installing the product on another computer to be used simultaneously with the original computer. The second reactivation problem occurred when I added another hard drive and swapped out the DVD writer in my wife’s computer; that time, activation indicated that enough hardware had changed that I needed to reactivate; the reactivation occurred without a human on the Microsoft side needing to get involved. I’m very careful to keep track of all the original CD’s and keys.

  14. And what happens if you have a legal copy of XP, but the valadation process thinks it isn’t? This Draconian process will only hurt honest people, not pirates

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.