Update to WGA Notifications for Windows XP Professional

Starting this week, we will begin deployment of the latest version of WGA Notifications for Windows XP.  In addition to the usual updates to validation that improve WGA's ability to detect the latest stolen or fake product keys and other attempts to circumvent product activation, this release will also include a couple of other significant updates.

Simplifying the installation and making it easy to stay up-to-date

In this release we're making it easier to install and stay up to date with the latest release of WGA Notifications. We've changed the installation experience and are again using the Windows Update install prompt we have used previously. There are a couple of reasons we're doing this now. One is that in recent research, customers (particularly the ones using genuine software - or at least that think they are) have told us that they would prefer the simplest, shortest way of installing. Our research has clearly shown that customers value the ability of Windows to alert them when they may have software that is not genuine, but they also want the ability to stay up to date with the least effort required on their part. The other reason is that hundreds of millions of installs of WGA Notifications have already taken place, and most customers are already aware of what the program is and just want the fastest and most seamless way to install and stay up-to-date. For this reason, in this release we've also added the ability for future updates to WGA Notifications to have both the validation logic, as well as new forms of notifications, installed without additional steps. This will only be the case for those who install this latest version or future versions of WGA Notifications.

Another thing we're doing with this release is focusing on the product edition that is most often stolen. This will reduce the number of customers that will be offered the package. This release will be offered to the most pirated edition of Windows XP and therefore to users with the highest likelihood of having a non-genuine copy, those using Windows XP Pro.  We're also offering it to those using editions based on Pro code such as Tablet and Windows Media Center, but plan to narrow the offering to Pro in future releases. 

Increasing the effectiveness of notifications and aligning experiences across Windows XP and Windows Vista

With this update to WGA Notifications in Windows XP, we've implemented a couple of related features that draw on the notifications experience we designed for Windows Vista SP1. After installing this version of WGA Notifications on a copy of Windows XP that fails the validation, most users will discover on their next logon that their desktop has changed to a plain black background from whatever was there previously (see below).

Plain Black Background

The desktop background can be reset to anything else in the usual ways, but every 60 minutes it will change back to the plain black background. This will continue to happen until that copy of Windows is genuine.

Also, the user will see the addition of what we call the "persistent desktop notification." This notification is similar to a watermark but works a bit differently. The image (see below) appears over the system tray and is non-interactive in the sense that you can't click on it or do anything to it.

Persistent Desktop Notification

The notification is, however, translucent and also can be clicked through and objects underneath it can be interacted with. In the screenshot here you can see (below) that the Recycle Bin appears underneath our logo. In this case, the Recycle Bin can be selected and moved about or right-clicked. The notification appears above any object on the desktop, but underneath open windows or applications. One of the reasons we've implemented the plain black background is to emphasize this new persistent desktop notification. As with the plain black background, the notification will continue to appear until that copy of Windows is genuine.

Persistent Desktop Notification - Translucent

As with previous releases, if a copy of Windows fails validation, notifications will appear above the system tray regularly - and we will continue to have the pre-logon message, the logon interrupt message and the messages that appear from the system tray.  We've updated the information on our site to reflect these changes. The updated content can be found here.

I'm excited about how this release balances our goals of providing a great experience to those who have genuine Windows and at the same time creating a compelling experience for those who have non-genuine copies to get genuine Windows. As usual I welcome your feedback about this latest release and the program overall. Thanks for reading!

Comments (19)

  1. From Microsoft: Microsoft will be releasing an update to WGA Notifications in Windows XP. The worldwide

  2. Microsoft has updated software that verifies whether a copy of Windows is genuine in its Windows XP Professional

  3. Microsoft is to tweak WGA (Windows Genuine Advantage) Notifications on Windows XP to make it behave more like WGA on Vista.

    Regular readers of this blog will know that I have written about WGA before, but for those new here, here’s a refresher. WGA i..

  4. TechBlog says:

    When Windows Vista was first introduced, it came with a powerful defense against pirating. In fact, it was so powerful that paying customers complained when it malfunctioned, and Microsoft wound up making some big changes. Unless Vista was properly activated,..

  5. war59312 says:

    Still pretty much a joke I’m afraid. A 2 minute search (or less) on google and WGA is gone for good and Microsoft thinks your running a genuine copy of windows.

    WGA does not effect the pirates at all. They simply remove the entire thing or never install WGA in the first place.

    You really only effect (more like drive insane) a small % of pirates (more like idiots) and all the genuine users.

    So why bother, really?

  6. spiritusdraco says:

    I’ve been using Linux for a good many years now. Not long after Windows ME came out I chose to switch to it as my main operating system. I admit I have tried XP Professional and Vista Home Premium and this is one of many reasons I don’t use it, and don’t recommend it. My girlfriend finds Linux to be easier, my mother, my sister, my father, my friends, my five year old niece all find Linux to be easier. I don’t have to prove I have a valid copy of my operating system, I don’t get treated like I am a pirate if some validation software makes a mistake. I don’t have to answer to a company to use a fully functioning operating system. I don’t get nagged, hassled, annoyed, pestered, poked, prodded, or just plain messed with by any software making business. I don’t deal with my background being changed, or watermark on my desktop, or a 30 day period I can use software before being deactivated, I also don’t have to register my copy, or activate it. I don’t have problems with updates to my system that might make a mistake and decide that my copy isn’t genuine software (not that this update will do that but I don’t like running the risk). For that matter I don’t have to worry about my software not being genuine. I am 100% legal and I can do just about anything I want. I will remain 100% legal and genuine by not using Microsoft products. One day you may win me back, but so far I cannot even see that with a very big telescope even remotely peaking up over the horizon. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate Windows, I just see it as less usable and harder unless it is all you have used all your life, and this has the potential to add to that mess. Thank you Microsoft for not nagging me, but I guess you can’t. 🙂

  7. shabbirbhimani says:

    Microsoft to detect pirated and non-genuine installations of Windows but as all Microsoft product it also has a problem which is while it’s been good at detecting non-genuine installs of Windows, it can sometimes incorrectly flag a genuine install as non-genuine and sorting this out can be tedious and time consuming.

  8. dave- says:

    I find the wording of this announcement disingenuous in the extreme. I *know* my copy of Windows is genuine, and therefore WGA notification has no value for me. In fact, it has negative value, since it’s Yet Another Piece of Software that needs updating.

    Formulations such as this one miss the point.

    “I’m excited about how this release balances our goals of providing a great experience to those who have genuine Windows and at the same time creating a compelling experience for those who have non-genuine copies to get genuine Windows.”

    I have genuine Windows. This utility does nothing to ‘improve’ my experience of genuine Windows. The absolute best that one could hope for is that this release is totally invisible if installed.

    The tactic here, and I don’t know whether it’s deliberate or merely due to that phenomenon known as ‘smoking your own exhaust’, is to confuse the advantages of running genuine Windows (and since I’m an MVP, you may assume I concur in the existence of such advantages) with the advantages of running some program to disable my system if I happen to not be running genuine Windows.

    And I suppose I should also mention the horrific mangling of the English language: “changed the installation experience”. “Draw on the notifications experience”. “Provide a great experience”. “Creating a compelling experience”. Do they really talk that way up in Redmond?

    Look, I get it. I understand that Microsoft has a big problem with software piracy. I like intellectual property rights; as a developer of software that’s sold for actual money, how could I not? I see that you have to do something to stop your product from being ripped off.

    But please stop pretending that it’s somehow to the advantage of us customers to have you constantly checking up on us.  We laugh at such attempts.

    XP validation was unwelcome but ultimately acceptable because it didn’t come with any pretence: you’re going to have to prove you paid for this.  OK, we can live with that. Re-validation at Windows Update time is ok, too. But my research shows that the mealy-mouthed Windows Genuine Advantage program does nothing except expose Microsoft’s increasing alienation from Windows Genuine Customers.  Can’t you just be honest and straightforward?

    I hope you’ll take this as a criticism from a customer that actually cares about Windows.

  9. Kurzbeschreibung: (Noch) optionales Update, welches die "Legalität" der installierten Windows-Version überprüft. Wird die Windows-Version bzw. dessen Produktschlüssel als illegal erkannt, erscheint nach der Anmeldung ein Popup/Balloon-Fenster im Infotr

  10. waternhole says:

    Thanks a lot for causing me more problems. I have a legitimate copy of Windows XP Professional. It was purchased from Sams Club 5 years ago. It was validated when it was installed. Now the WGA update KB905474 says it is an invallid pirated copy. What am I to do except do a system restore and block the installation of the update? Now I will never be able to update my software again.

  11. waternhole says:

    This problem with invalidating legal copies of Windows XP Professional has some legal ramifications. I would strongly suggest fixing this before some smart ass lawyer files a class action law suit. Oh, that is what your legal staff gets paid for. Gotta keep them gainfully employed. Who cares about disenfranchising good customers. Linex, here I come.

  12. waternhole says:

    Figured you wouldn’t post my comments. Anything critical to help some one else is not your goal. You in your golden towers built buy us poor slobs dishing out 2-3 hundred dollars every time you promise us another better Windows mean nothing to you.

    Hello Linux here I come.

  13. MSDN Archive says:

    Watern’ sorry I didn’t get the comments approved faster. I do not intend to censor any opinion in any comments left as long as the comments are respectful and appropriate. I need to moderate the comments left because of some inappropriate commenting that happened in the past.

    As to your description of what happened to you there are a number of reasons why your copy of Windows might not have passed our validation process. You are welcome to use our online self help tools or see other options for support on this page: http://www.microsoft.com/genuine/selfhelp/Support.aspx.

    Lastly, having a copy of Windows that does not pass the validation process does not mean that it can’t be updated. Windows XP systems will not be able to use the WindowsUpdate.com website to scann or install updates however you can obtain all imporant security updates by turning on Automatic Updates and those updates can also be obtained individually on the Microsoft Download Center.

    Hope this helps,


  14. Kurzbeschreibung: (Noch) optionales Update, welches die "Legalität" der installierten Windows-Version überprüft. Wird die Windows-Version bzw. dessen Produktschlüssel als illegal erkannt, erscheint nach der Anmeldung ein Popup/Balloon-Fenster im Infotr

  15. Starting this week, we will begin deployment of the latest version of WGA Notifications for Windows XP.

  16. BarryS says:

    I have just had this appear on my XP machine.  Initially I pressed cancel and although I can still logon to my PC, it is now very slow to the point of walking away and making a cup of tea.

    I am unable:

    a) surf the net

    b) open any business documents via explorer or MS Office

    By the way, I have a genuine XP copy through an expired MSDN subscription for which I paid nearly £2000!!!

    Now whilst I’m more than happy to validate my copy, since it is valid, I am extremely dissapointed…nay annoyed…nay fuming in fact that this has caused such a performance issue with my pc in that it has become unusable.  I trust that MS tested this release against old copies of XP.

    Any suggestions to fix this ASAP would be very much appreciated.

  17. Zer says:

    BarryS’s comment is exactly why I feel so hesitant about things like Activation. Any screwup on Microsoft’s part leaves legitimate programs broken.

    I was actually considering Linux + Wine for the next server I set up (I have VB6 components I must run). "Never attribute to malice what you can attribute to stupidity," perhaps, but it’s unacceptable for a Microsoft mistake to break things.

    I’m glad the current activation just gives annoying popups. For any business where time is worth money that is sufficient to induce purchasing a genuine copy if their version is pirated, so good there. On the other hand, if you screwed up it can still operate. That’s good.

  18. Zer says:

    Also, I agree with dave-, Microsoft has got to stop using the word ‘experience’. It sounds absolutely ridiculous and I see it all over the place as of late.

    No, a setup program is not an ‘experience’. Clicking the Start button is not an ‘experience’. If you’ve made anything mundane that I have to do an ‘experience’, you’ve fouled it up.

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