Validation Issue Fix

We've been receiving reports on our forum and through customer service starting last night that Windows Vista validations have been failing on genuine systems. It looks now as though the issue has been resolved and validations are being processed successfully.

Customers who received an incorrect validation response can fix their system by revalidating on our site ( We encourage anyone who received a validation failure since Friday evening to do this now. After successfully revalidating any affected system should be rebooted to ensure the genuine-only features are restored.

Comments (22)

  1. mhornyak says:

    I imagine customers will be compensated.

    Oh wait, they won’t be.  My bad.

    As I’ve predicted, this would happen.  Also as I’ve predicted, Microsoft failed to step up and either immediately fix Windows for customers who called or provide compensation for their loss.  I hope no one failed to get work done because WGA failed–making their expensive copies of Windows useless.

    On the other hand, pirate copies of Windows with hacked WGA continued to work normally this weekend.

    You really ought to work on making WGA actually an advantage.  Right now, users of pirate copies of Windows had an extra couple days of use.

  2. Reno582 says:

    Come on mhornyyak

    it was just a downed server, its the first time in six or seven years since their activation server went down.

  3. xavier says:

    Also , I have tried numorouse things to try to get windows vista working properly without availale.

    Thanks MicroSoft for all your "assistance".

  4. cnfrisch says:

    Well, Mr. "mhornyak", you have your facts wrong. A Windows operating system flagged as "non-genuine" does not create or impose any limits to the essential functionality of the operating system.  

    You might want to explain what you mean by "failed to get work done" because all WGA does is alert a user that his/her Windows system "may" be "non-genuine" and thats all.

    Its quite obvious you never experienced this as you would not have made the false accusation you put forth in your remarks.

  5. quux says:

    Hi Alex.

    I don’t want to come off as on of those frothing-at-the-mouth Microsoft haters, but it seems to me that there are some fundamental issues here; I’ll try to touch on them briefly.

    1) Is there enough redundancy in both the WGA back end and its operational procedures? Are WGA backend servers geographically distributed? Are patches and app fixes rolled out to production in a staged way with room for backout if problems develop?

    2) Where can users go for definitive, regularly updated status of that WGA backend? If it is becoming an operational dependency for us users downstream of MS, we’ll need some way to learn that status! (I’m thinking of the poor IT sap who may have chosen this weekend to upgrade, say, 1500 desktops from XP to Vista.)

    3) Why is this critical infrastructure seemingly only supported by … a forum? Shouldn’t people be able to file tickets and have some sort of SLA?

    4) If the WGA client cannot contact the WGA backend, shouldn’t *that* be the message displayed to the user? All in all, it seems there needs to be a bit more transparency and end-user troubleshoot-ability in the WGA system.

    I’m not sure which of these has the highest importance; I just numbered them for easier response. But they are questions which are looming large in many customers minds right now, I suspect. After they calm down, that is!

    Thanks for the oppurtunity to comment.

  6. dthatcher7 says:

    Compensated? MS turned it around with a fix in less than 24 hours ON A WEEKEND!

    Crap happens. Exactly how much in "reparations" do you think MS should give each user?

    Especially since this mostly would only affect new installs or manual updates. The average Joe doesn’t try to re-validate Windows every week.

  7. mhornyak says:

    I also want to say, because I know how painful all-nighters are: congrats to the WGA team for getting things working again.  It’s not your fault that the company policy is bad.

  8. Earlier today (24 August) we began receiving reports of Windows Vista customers running genuine systems

  9. The issues seem to have been fixed. Users that have been affected, should try to re-validate and restart

  10. The issues seem to have been fixed. Users that have been affected, should try to re-validate and restart

  11. jefferjones says:

    >You might want to explain what you mean by "failed to get work done" because all WGA does is alert a user that his/her Windows system "may" be "non-genuine" and thats all.

     This was a crisis because the critical get-work-done functionality is immediately removed.

     How is the guy who posted this problem supposed to prepare for his upcoming demo?

    "I am unable to get a Microsoft DST patch that is needed for my O*acle database – the st*pid DST patch is asking for validation which doesn’t work. I have a demo that I need to get done for Monday and I am unable to do anything"

     What if you needed to do a presentation on Saturday and your hi-def video didn’t work (as mine didn’t)?

  12. There was a brief outage Friday evening into Saturday (24-25 August 2007) of the Microsoft Windows Genuine

  13. rdamiani says:

    re "cnfrisch"

    Your comments are correct if and only if you are running XP. If you are running Vista, a WGA failure will:

    – Disable Aero

    – Disable the shell

    – Disable many advacned ‘features’ like ReadyBoost and (apperently) disk cacheing so the system is extremely slow (i.e. safe mode)

    – Make is extremely difficult to run any programs other than Internet Explorer, which goes to the ‘you’re a pirate, now give us money’ page at

    – Shut the system down every 60 min.

    I’m not guessing on this one. I intentionally ran a Vista system past it’s experation so I could experence ‘Reduced Functionality Mode’ for myself.

    Alex – any word on when we’ll see an advantage to being Genuine? ‘Casue right now it looks like the people who actually give MS money are the suckers, while the pirates are getting the advantage. Fookin’ awsome bit ‘o marketing there.

  14. michaelosity says:

    I was one of the few that experienced this. I had to replace the hard drive on my laptop during this time. I was on the phone for well over an hour and while the MS people are friendly and helpful it is apparent to me that MS as a company just doesn’t get it (they were not able to resolve the problem). I paid well in excess of $200 for my copy of Vista Ultimate and getting the "Your copy of Vista appears to be counterfit" and having functionality removed and not being able to install updates from the MS site… well it doesn’t make for a very good experience. I was and still am quite mad at Microsoft. I’m pretty sure I’m going to switch to a Mac because of it. I certainly don’t feel like I’ve been rewarded for being a good citizen and acutually buying my copy of Windows. All those pirates out there probably had no problems at all. Microsoft just doesn’t understand how WGA affects real customers that are legally trying to use their software. I appreciate that this happens rarely and that they need to make money, but that money doesn’t have to come from me anymore.

  15. joewill says:

    I appreciate the comments here and elsewhere about our recent validation server failure, especially those from our customers like michaelosity who experienced the problem first-hand, and the posts that ask us tough questions for us to think about (thanks quux).  We had a problem, which we fixed very rapidly – and we are working hard to make sure that there will be no repeat. Like anyone else, we’re embarrassed by our mistakes – but we’re also proud of the fact that we solved the issue quickly.  

    We are committed and passionate about making it hard to sell counterfeit copies of our products to unsuspecting users – and to alert customers when they have been misled. Our partners who make their paychecks by selling our genuine software are counting on us to make it tough on the bad guys – and I don’t intend to disappoint them.

    michaelosity — Ultimate is a great product that you’ll get a lot from (check out the Ultimate Extras, like BitLocker and Hold ‘Em) and I hope you give us a chance to do better going forward. Joe Williams, WGA Mktg GM.

  16. cnfrisch says:

    Mr. "Rdamiani" –

    You are confusing "Product Activation" with "WGA".  Please read the following Microsoft Knowledge Base Article which explains the difference between "Non-genuine reduced functionality mode" and "Out-of-grace reduced functionality mode".

    The behavior of reduced functionality mode in Windows Vista:

  17. michaelosity says:

    Vista is now authorized and geniune according to Microsoft. In doing so, I’ve went through a number tweaks suggested by MS customer support (about 2 hours; didn’t work), re-installed Vista in-place after MS customer support said that might fix the problem (about 2 hours; didn’t work), the next day did a fresh and clean install (about 2 hours; worked). Of course the last item worked because the WGA backend had been fixed. That explains my journey in a nutshell.

    I’m still using Vista, for now. The allure of an OS that is priced in a sane fashion (one version, one price) and without these types of activation/WGA issues sure is appealling though.

    Thanks for getting the problem fixed in a timely fashion.

  18. MSDN Archive says:

    michaelosity, if you wouldn’t mind I would like to follow up with you to learn more about your experience with our support and to hear any other feedback you might have.

    Feel free to contact me through the ’email’ function of the blog. You should see it near the top of the left navigation area.


  19. ioniancat21 says:

    I’m sorry the WGA Team has to sit here and listen to all these negative comments including myself.

    If Microsoft really liked and cared about the WGA Staff, they would abandon WGA altogether and transfer you over to a department where you wouldn’t be spinning your wheels wasting time.

    You only have one life you know, it would be a shame to see all of your staff who like myself has spent years building up skills in this trade we call IT wasted developing WGA. Uncle Bill should have you guys research if Betamax is still viable? Sounds stupid maybe, but much more productive!

  20. Flyer00 says:

    It seems like a no-brainer that if the WGA servers cannot be reached, the software should not be assumed to be pirated. It should ONLY act as pirated software if it receives a response from the server saying that the software is indeed illegal. It is not the paying user’s fault that the servers are down and he should not be treated as a pirate because of it.

  21. cquirke says:

    WGA and activation are selection pressures aimed at steering various competitive states in MS’s favour, namely:

    – Windows licensed vs. warez

    – Windows vs. MacOS, Linux etc.

    – Clean PCs vs. malware’d PCs

    – Computers vs. Web 2.0 clients

    Ask yourself; are these pressures operating in the right direction?

    If I can’t trust MS online services, I won’t want to update.  That means I’m more likely to get malware’d.

    If I have to trust the availability and functioning of MS’s servers to use my PC apps, then I may as well buy a thin client and no apps, and rely on Web 2.0 servers instead.

    And I don’t have to spell out which way the wind blows on warez and competing OSs that offer similar functionality without the risks.

    So I’d argue that even from MS’s perspective, these user-hostile technologies are becoming a liability.

  22. ndiamond says:

    Monday, August 27, 2007 10:38 AM by cnfrisch

    > Mr. "Rdamiani" – You are confusing "Product

    > Activation" with "WGA".  Please read the

    > following Microsoft Knowledge Base Article

    > which explains the difference between "Non-

    > genuine reduced functionality mode" and "Out-

    > of-grace reduced functionality mode".

    Maybe the Knowledge Base article is the one that’s confused?

    *  Non-genuine reduced functionality mode

    *  Windows Vista enters non-genuine reduced

    *  functionality mode if one of the following

    *  conditions is true:

    *  • The WGA program detects a blocked product

    *    key or a counterfeit product key.

    *  • The WGA program detects incorrect

    *    activation binary files or modified

    *    activation binary files.

    *  • Windows Vista is in out-of-grace reduced

    *    functionality mode.

    Need repeating of this part of it?

    *  Windows Vista enters non-genuine reduced

    *  functionality mode if one of the following


    *  • Windows Vista is in out-of-grace reduced

    *    functionality mode.

    I saw Vista do more than mix those two.  It also displayed assertions both that it was non-genuine and that it was activated, both at the same time.  That was several months before the recent non-outage.

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