Update on Validation Issues

We're continuing to investigate what happened but here's a quick update to yesterday's post. The issue with processing validations began Friday afternoon at about 3:30 PM Pacific time and through a combination of posts to our forum and customer support the issue was discovered by evening. By about 11:15 AM Pacific on Saturday morning the issue affecting the validation service had been analyzed and resolved such that validations were again being processed properly. Our data shows that fewer than 12,000 systems were affected worldwide and that many of those have already revalidated and are fixed. This is encouraging news but we want to emphasize that one bad customer experience is one too many and that we're committed to learning from this experience and working to prevent this type of event from occurring again.

We're also looking into the reports of comments made about the expected length of the issue and how support inquiries were handled overall during this time.  I heard a report that one of our support folks indicated that the issues would not be fixed until Tuesday, that was incorrect. We'll be looking closely at how/why that statement was made.

Let me call out here that we take issues like this very seriously and when anything like this happens it receives our full attention. I heard directly from a couple of users yesterday who experienced this issue. They confirmed to me that they were able to re-validate their systems successfully and had no other issues. As I mentioned yesterday the fix for anyone affected by this is to revalidate their system at our site. This can be done by visiting our site (www.microsoft.com/genuine) and clicking the ‘Validate Windows' button in the upper right area of the homepage. For customers who need additional support Microsoft already offers free support for WGA issues starting with diagnostics and other tools and information. In North America support for WGA issues is available at 1-866-530-6599. Internationally it varies somewhat so to find out more about our support options go to http://www.microsoft.com/genuinesupport (there's a link to technical support at the bottom of the page).

This validation failure did not result in the 30-day grace period starting and no one went into reduced functionality mode as a result.  The experience of a system that failed validation in this instance was that some features intended for use only on genuine systems were temporarily unavailable.  Those features were Windows Aero, ReadyBoost, Windows Defender (which still scanned and identified all threats, but cleaned only the severe ones), and Windows Update (only optional updates were unavailable; security and other critical updates remained available).  Also, the desktop message about failed validation appeared.  And as I indicated, these features return to normal and the desktop message disappears when an affected system is revalidated at our site.

As always, we welcome feedback about the program so please feel free to contact me here through the blog or post a comment.

Comments (15)

  1. ScaleOvenStove says:

    I wasn’t affected by this, but I think from the outside looking in, that if the validation servers are down, the clients shouldn’t default to “non validate”, instead they should default to “validate” as this wasn’t the clients fault, but the server’s

  2. rdamiani says:

    Making Windows Defender a ‘premium’ feature that operates in a reduced functionality mode seems like an exceptionally bad idea. There are valid reasons why a legaly installed copy of Windows Vista will fail the WGA checks and run in reduced functionality mode. Deleting certain files and poorly-written third-party software have already been identified as reasons why otherwise legal systems fail WGA checks.

    Denying users under those curcumstances the protection offered by Windows Defender seems like it would just make a bad and hopefully rare problem that much worse. Does Windows One Care operate the same way?

  3. I dare ya. Explain to a non techy the concepts of WGA, Validation, KMS, MAK keys. I'll wait while

  4. at0mik says:

    I will try and make this brief although I am certain this situation will linger for quite some time and many people will talk to you about their feeling on the mattter.  I have recommended your products with “WGA” and “Activation” on previous versions implemented in your products because “ping” backs didn’t happen and tampering “probes” didn’t produce false positives.   Once validated it took a significant change in hardware to trigger a “local” response. This  “probing” can only be looked at from the consumer point of view as an “off switch”.  I am sure through the levels of discussions held at Microsoft this new WGA tampering method was explained rationally and even debated.  

    However, those that debated this would be perceived as too much control over the user’s experiences were correct.  Having to explain this new “version” of WGA that suddenly cut off some of both yours and my customers was not easy task.  The customer’s feeling of being “watched” and “questioned” every time they updated was not a pleasant one (as they stated).  It goes without saying that I disclosed as best I could the situation at hand to a person without a technical background.  

    One question they reminded me of was when will these servers NOT respond to WGA requests…which would likely produce the same problem today?  When can they expect their Vista versions to lose “extended” features?

    Today a customer who has no technical background and no knowledge of any Operating Systems…was indeed tasking me to find them a solution to this potential problem if it ever came up again in the future. I was simply asked to make a disaster plan.  If Microsoft continues to use this or perhaps a more aggressive system of WGA, it goes without saying that I can no longer on a technical merit recommend your products or include you in the disaster plan.  That is the market this WGA technology is creating.

  5. Condor says:

    I have a problem with your definitions. I have Vista Ultimate, bought a graphics card with sufficient muscle and added memory to 2 GB. I did not experience the validation problemproblem, but if I lost the Aero interface I would certainly class that as reduced functionality. This is not just a "feature", when you are used to this. Same goes for Defender.

  6. r3m0t says:

    "no one went into reduced functionality mode as a result.  The experience of a system that failed validation in this instance was that some features intended for use only on genuine systems were temporarily unavailable."

    Sounds like reduced functionality to me.

    I suppose you’re going to roll out a critical update to make all those disabled computer revalidate?

  7. Tolomir says:

    What would be the problem, if a WGA check fails, to inform the user about but, but keep all features.

    After two or three the WGA check could be automatically triggered and if the check still fails, the premium features could be disabled until WGA is (manually) confirmed.

    On the most computers a windows installation is running longer than 2 years before the system is reinstalled (due to new hardware, defective environment etc.), thus granting a three days lease would be not too much to offer.

    Within that three days I guess most server systems should be back up operational, so you never had that problem again and you would not annoy your customers…


  8. mikado says:

    Microsoft has joined with such other luminaries as the MPAA and RIAA in assuming that their customers are crooks. As this episode has demonstrated, Microsoft customers are now fully dependent on the goodwill and full functioning of Microsoft to use the products they bought and paid for. If something happens (technical failure somewhere in the network infrastructure, change in business direction, MS going out of business), the customers are hosed.

    If you voluntarily tie your leg to the Microsoft train, you should expect to be dragged in whatever direction Microsoft wants to go, and you cannot complain at the occasional derailment.

  9. jooliaan says:

    I can’t properly use Microsoft Update yet. I receive back a 0x80040802 error every time, just after clicking on the "Update Windows" button.

    I never had such kind of problem before…

    Does anybody could point me out on the right direction in allowing me to solve this annoying issue?

    TIA! 🙂

  10. fin_head says:

    > As always, we welcome feedback about the program

    > so please feel free to contact me here through

    > the blog or post a comment.

    Let me echo mikado’s and at0mik’s sentiments.

    Even if Microsoft got lucky this time with the WGA outage by only affecting a very small percentage of customers, it illustrates a clear problem with WGA.

    You’re explanation of services that disabled or limited their service is by definition “reduced functionality.”  Spin it however you want if it makes you feel better, but WGA’s hiccup left users who try to do the right thing in a situation where their computers were crippled by WGA.

    Any situation out of the norm, WGA alerts the user that they are a thief, and/or denies them from performing an action they deem necessary — despite the fact they are indeed using genuine software.

    To put it simply, what WGA does best is bedevil legitimate users.

  11. Tech|noob says:

    Filed under: Desktops , Laptops With Microsoft's WGA servers patched up after last week's outage

  12. debottam says:

    [edited comment]


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