Images: WGA lurks in Windows Update
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Microsoft offers users four basic modes to select from when accessing the Windows Update configurator from Windows’ Control Panel.rnIn automatic mode, the download and installation take place on their own, and the opportunity to consent to or refuse specific updates comesrnup only in connection with the End User License Agreement (EULA) from Microsoft. ZDNet’s David Berlind takes a closer look at EULAs in his blog, including the question of whether the agreement accurately communicates the intent and behavior of thernsoftware, as well as the ramifications of not accepting it.
A user who chooses to exercise control over the process sees arnlist of updates that have been downloaded to the PC. Each update has arnname, and highlighting that name calls up a short summary of the purposernof the update and a link to further information.rnIn this round of updates, Berlind was not able to spot whether any alsornincluded the Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) software. It didn’t seem tornbe included at first, but a later round of checks revealed that it wasrnindeed there.rn
rnThe WGA program is a precursor to the antipiracy features Microsoft isrnbuilding into Windows Vista, expected in January 2007. In Vista, certainrnoperating system features will only work as long as it is a properlyrnlicensed copy.
Going through the download-and-install process a second time,rnBerlind found that the update included the WGA component after all. Inrnthis screen, the Windows Genuine Advantage Validation Tool appeared tornhave been downloaded, initialized and installed without ever asking forrnuser consent.
Following the steps laid out by Microsoft eventually yieldedrnword that yet another update was waiting–a “high-priority update”rncalled “Windows Genuine Advantage Notification.” The summary text: “ThernWindows Genuine Advantage Notification tool notifies you if your copy ofrnWindows is not genuine. If your system is found to be non-genuine, therntool will help you obtain a licensed copy of Windows.”rn
rnA few more steps lie ahead for those who want a full accounting,rnprompting Berlind to wonder: How many users will follow this circuitousrnroute to figure out what this is about?
Microsoft notes that the WGA tool is “prerelease software” in the End User License Agreement (EULA), which is displayed when WGA Notifications is about to be installed. People can decline the download at that point. Berlind says that most people click on the license “accept” button without paying any attention to it.
This is all the user sees once the updates are done. Berlindrnsuggests that this would be a good place for Microsoft to offer morerndetails and functionality–for instance, listing the updates in somernclickable fashion so users can get more information about what they’vernjust done to their computers and perhaps a way to undo specific updates.