WGA service outage

Earlier this week a server on the backend of the WGA service experienced a bug that resulted in a temporary outage. As a result, some systems were incorrectly flagged as being non-genuine, and we want to confirm for those who contacted us about this that it was indeed an error.  The WGA team apologizes for any disruption this may have caused for our customers.
The bug that caused this issue was identified and fixed within twenty four hours of being discovered. 

Here are the specific steps that can be taken now to fix this issue on any affected system that is genuine:

1)      Delete the data.dat file from C:\Documents and Settings\All Users\Application Data\Windows Genuine Advantage\data (The drive letter will depend on where the OS was installed)

2)      Revisit http://www.microsoft.com/genuine/downloads/validate.aspx to confirm whether the machine is genuine.

3)      Run wgatray.exe /b from the command line to ensure that the latest validation is updated for WGA Notifications.  This command may be absent from the user’s machine and should not be considered an error.  Please ensure that this is run as an Administrator.  A reboot may be required to remove all non-genuine notifications.

We also implemented a webpage with special instructions that will receive any traffic from systems that are running on product keys that could have been affected by this issue.

Also, systems that validated during this time and were given the incorrect answer may have cached that answer and could continue to use that locally cached value (of “not-genuine”) for up to 90 days for most systems or until the data.dat file is deleted.  Our routing of systems running on affected keys to a special webpage where steps can be found for fixing this issue will remain in place to help users of affected systems.

Comments (12)

  1. native says:

    Here’s a KB they [WGA team] threw together that has a _little_ more to offer in way of support and guidance that the author did not include for whatever reasons.


    Ultimately the best fix would have been for the same WGA application that phones home every so often to correct itself by eradicating any corrupt data.dat files.  It’s a pity that such a burden has been placed on the customer to correct a mistake caused by WGA.

  2. If the server outage the reason for not offering KB905474 (WGA Notifcation Tool) via Auto/Windows/Microsoft Update at the moment anymore?

  3. mhornyak says:

    This is why even "a fraction of a percent" of failure of WGA (and Vista Reduced Functionality Mode) is an awful idea–because with hundreds of millions of Windows users, that amounts to thousands of people who Microsoft must support with servers that are not 100% reliable.

    What if it were your deadline-critical, mission-critical work that was blocked by reduced functionality mode?

    I think the right way to "dogfood" this is to have WGA/Vista Reduced Functionality kick in at deadline for the people working on the team–for example, just as RC2 or RTM is due.  Only then will they understand what they’re doing to users.

    I have a free copy of Vista Ultimate (I’m a beta tester) and even I’m not happy about the idea of installing it on my primary machine because I don’t want to be locked out when I need my computer most.

    Truly, Windows is no longer a mission critical-suitable operating system, as we are now at the whims of the WGA servers which can decide that it’s time to prevent users from getting their work done.  

    I don’t envy the job that the WGA team has.  Anything less than 100% success is a complete failure.

  4. mhornyak says:

    Better put–your apology is NOT good enough.  Even if well-intentioned, it’s inherently insincere.

    A true apology would come with compensation for locked-out customers.  With the extra revenue earned by Vista’s stricter anti-piracy controls, why not give users monetary compensation?

    Anything short of that and the apology amounts to empty words from a company who takes their customers for granted and doesn’t truly deserve the money their customers give them.  

  5. andonevris says:

    I agree with mhornyak.  I will not be upgrading any of my mission critical machines to Vista, and will be advising my clients not to either.

    As rightly stated even a fraction of a percentage of false positives for whatever reason is too much of a risk with this new RFM.

    The current system works fine IMO. Hardened pirates will always find a way around whatever protection is used, those suffering the most will be innocent bystanders caught in the crossfire of the piracy wars.

    From personal experience I have seen WGA fail on perfectly legitimate XP installs, thankfully the only fallout was a few nag screens which still allowed my client to get his work done until the problem was resolved, I dread to think what would have happened if he was on Vista.

    Currently I am adding pseudo Vista functionality to my own XP machines (UAC desktop search etc) andwill be sticking with XP for the foreseeable future.

    Call me old fashioned, but I like to have control of MY OWN PC. I do not want to be controlled by the whims of some server, to be able to be locked out OF MY OWN PC. This is unacceptable and MS have just lost another sale.

  6. Tim Long says:

    It really isn’t acceptable for a server outage to disadvantage genuine users in any way. WGA must err on the side of the end user. There should be no circumstances under which a genuine user can have their products flagged as non-genuine. If that happens, if you harm the people who are following the rules, you lose the battle of hearts and minds.

  7. bruceatk says:

    The attitude presented by this blog reflects my experience with dealing with a false positive on my HP laptop.  I have rectified my situation.  The things I was told to do by Microsoft was unbelieveable (all the way up to re-installing my OS).  All that matters is that I’m fixed now and have no intention of installing IE 7 or Vista (EVER).

    To me a false positive is never acceptable.  The fact that it can happen is reason not to do it.


  8. mhornyak says:

    I keep checking back to this blog to see if our gracious host will respond.  I don’t see anything thus far.  I take that as a tacit admission of failure by Alex–and agreement that Windows Genuine Advantage can be dangerous to some people.

  9. Metagg says:

    Find out what Social News Sites are discussing this post over at metagg.com

  10. cnovak says:

    Absolutely OUTRAGEOUS!  The gall of Microsoft to continue to use this junk WGA software that is a nightmare only to legitimate users in the face of overwhelming criticism and negative customer feedback.

    This is so clearly demonstrative of why Microsoft is a sinking ship, IT DOESN’T HEAR its customers anymore or is just plain not responsive to customer demand.  

    I am up to my neck in pissed off Executive users that rely on MS software 24×7 to get real business and customer objectives accomplished.  Do you remember what those things are Microsoft.  This is the most blatantly ill conceived approach to piracy prevention and amounts to placating customer with naive half hearted apologies.  

    Microsoft needs to wake up and realize that it is exactly those people who are up to their necks in pissed off executives who are creating IT strategy.  MS does NOT have a place in mission critical applications at this point in time.  Further it seems to consistently talk about the TCO of Linux being higher.  How do you quantitively measure the TCO impact this outage has had.  Has for me and my organization we will increasingly move to Linux in the coming months with the objective to eliminate MS from our environment completely unless Microsoft beings to Listen to it’s customers again.  These are my machines, we run them, and we do not want any server anywhere disabling system access ever.  Microsoft seems to forget that they do NOT own the systems they disable whenever something goes POOF at microsoft. I do not want to be controlled by the whims of some server, to be locked out of our OWN machines.

    This is incomprehensible and inexcusable and the apology falls just short of completely LAME.  

    Good bye and good riddance to Microsoft.

  11. ahodacsek says:

    Come on guys, aren’t you taking this a little hard? We all know that anything that is man-made is not going to be 100% reliable or efficent. Yes, Microsoft does seem to forget who ownes the machines. Yes, I too do not like the fact that WGA is not always reliable. For an example, if you own a GMC Yukon, and your fuel pump broke, would you never purchase a GMC again? I too need my computer running all the time and know what it is like to be locked out of it because I have a tendency to "kill" the computer. I am also not trying to stick up for Microsoft, but give them a break. It is a man made OS, a man made anti-piracy feature, and anything that is man made is bound to fail at some point in time. It is a fact of life, so accept it, and move on with yours.

  12. amorpheous says:

    ahodacsek, I think you fail to realise what kind of people are posting their comments on this blog. We are not everyday home users who can easily shrug something like this off. These are IT professionals who have critical systems running on Microsoft software.

    So the WGA team erred and the server buggered up. Yes, it’s human error, but that’s besides the point. The very concept of WGA coupled with disabling systems that may be critical is flawed. And knowing this, hearing it it from _countless_ IT professionals _AND_ end users and still doing nothing about it? It’s lunacy. And then on top of that the servers go down like this. How else do you expect people to react?

    You talk about systems that aren’t 100% reliable and prone to human error? How is it that all the various flavours of Unix aren’t breaking in such disastrous ways? And they’re beind developed by people working for free, in their spare time as enthusiasts. On the other hand Microsoft employees are getting fat salaries and doing nothing. They’re making money and not even listening to their customers. What kind of customer service do you call that?

    I know I won’t be upgrading to Vista and I’m advising everyone I know not to either. I’ll stick with XP Professional until I can’t use my VLK anymore then I’m switching entire to Linux. Microsoft don’t deserve my money.

Skip to main content