Microsoft's WGA Pays Off

Dennis Faas's picture

A year after Microsoft's Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) was first introduced, it seems to finally be paying off.

That's the case abroad, in the world's most populated nation. Chinese Microsoft customers there have steered authorities to a multi-billion dollar counterfeit ring and the arrest of 25 people. (Source:

The Windows Genuine Advantage came under fire last year when it was revealed Microsoft's anti-piracy platform "phoned home" after being installed on a user's computer. Although the company had somewhat legitimate intentions in monitoring the growing number of illegitimate copies of its software, the spyware paranoia burned Microsoft publicly.

However, the recent Chinese bust might have justified the 2006 outcry. In a joint operation with the FBI, Chinese authorities seized more than $500 million worth of pirated DVDs and CDs, terminating a distribution network that had spread to 27 countries on some five continents. According to Redmond, the ring was "allegedly responsible for manufacturing and distributing more than $2 billion worth of counterfeit Microsoft software".

How'd Microsoft make the bust?

As mentioned, WGA was key. When Chinese customers were told by the program that their software was illegitimate, many decided to "rat out" their distributor. That tactic, not unlike "trading up" in a police interrogation, eventually led to the massive bust.

Understandably, Microsoft is more than pleased. In a statement, senior vice president Brad Smith proclaimed, "This case should serve as a wake-up call to counterfeiters...Customers around the world are turning you in, governments and law enforcement have had enough, and private companies will act decisively to protect intellectual property." (Source:

It seems "big brother" not only watches, but acts.

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