Windows Automatic Updates now checking Genuine Advantage…

According to started today (June 1st) Microsoft will be utilizing their Genuine Advantage check through the Automatic Update feature. Up until now, you have only been prompted for the Genuine Advantage check when visiting the Windows update site directly. (I can only assume the Genuine Advantage check is the method the article speaks of to verify if you have a licensed copy of windows.) Essentially, they say they will not be taking details like name/address, but they will nag you that you have a pirated copy of Windows and updates will not be available.

Software Piracy is certainly a problem that costs companies billions of dollars (if you assume that every pirated copy would have been purchased instead of pirated…) Personally I think cracking down on software piracy can help linux distributions and other free, open-source solutions. For instance, more often than not when people see how much Microsoft office costs, then compare features with OpenOffice, MOST people come to the decision that they can make do with OpenOffice. (Certainly not all, but most.)

I don’t agree with holding security updates hostage to being an officialy licensed copy though. I really have a problem with this because it is NOT JUST the user of the pirated system that is put at increased risk/inconvenience at having an unpatched system. Especially if it’s network connected (persistent connection), it needs ot have security updates for EVERYONE’s sake. I believe that security updates should be freely and easily available PERIOD. If you want to cripple a pirated version by disabling audio/video codecs, or defaulting the Internet Explorer page to a nagging warning go right ahead, we need to eliminate software piracy. I’m sure that given there’s the genuine advantage test in Windows update, they could manage to do other things to cripple some core functionality with nagging warnings that the system is pirated, while still allowing security updates.

Alas, I don’t make such decisions though. I haven’t had the opportunity to see an XP system that is pirated and refuses to grab security updates either. However, I’m sure this will make it likely that there will be plenty of hosts available to act as open mail relays for spammers, web hosts for who knows what and machines acting as convenient hacking springboards for script kiddies for years to come.

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