Microsoft kills Office anti-piracy program

Office Genuine Advantage served its purpose, says Microsoft as it drops validation checking

Microsoft last week killed an anti-piracy service that checked whether customers were running legal copies of Office, saying that the program had "served its purpose."

ZDNet blogger Ed Bott first reported on Microsoft's move after a tipster pointed him toward a support document on the company's site.

That Dec. 17 document simply noted that Office Genuine Advantage (OGA) "has been retired," but offered no explanation.

In an e-mail reply to questions today, a Microsoft spokeswoman added, "The program has served its purpose and thus we have decided to retire the program."

OGA, which debuted alongside Office XP in 2007, was Microsoft's way to separate counterfeit from legitimate copies of its popular suite. In 2006, Microsoft restricted Office template downloads to users running a legal edition of the application bundle, then upped the ante early in 2007 by requiring all users to validate their copy of Office with OGA to use the now-defunct Office Update site and service.

In 2008, Microsoft added a notification component to OGA that nagged users of counterfeit copies to upgrade.

Microsoft declined to expand today on its reasons for dumping OGA, with the spokeswoman saying only, "Given our strong commitment to anti-piracy, we are making several new investments that will allow us to engage with customers and help victims of fraud."

She did not spell out what future anti-piracy changes Microsoft has in mind.

The company has disabled links that once pointed to additional information about OGA, and to a validation check. Those links, which were available on a page cached Sunday by several search engines, now redirect users to Microsoft's main Windows 7 page.

Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA), which was renamed Windows Activation Technologies (WAT) last year with the introduction of Windows 7, remained active Monday when Computerworld checked several copies of the operating system. WAT serves the same purpose as the now-discontinued OGA, but focuses on the legitimacy of Windows XP, Vista or Windows 7.

Microsoft's anti-piracy policies have had a contentious history as users had regularly complained about the validation checks. In June 2006, for example, Microsoft angered users by pushing a version of WGA to XP via Windows Update, tagging it as a "high-priority" update that was automatically downloaded and installed to most machines. A year later, a day-long server outage riled thousands of users who were mistakenly fingered for running counterfeit copies of Windows.

The 2006 incident sparked a lawsuit that accused the company of misleading customers when it used Windows Update to serve up WGA. That case was dismissed last February after the plaintiffs and Microsoft agreed to drop the lawsuit.

Office users are still required to activate their copies of the suite by entering a legitimate 25-character key after they install the software. Product activation, which Microsoft launched with Office 2000, is another anti-piracy service the company uses for Office on both Windows and Mac OS X, as well as for the Windows operating system.

Copies of Microsoft's software that are not activated drop into what the company calls "reduced functionality mode" that restricts its use and puts nagging notices on the screen.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags securityMicrosoftoperating systemssoftwareWindowsDRM and Legal Issues

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Gregg Keizer

Computerworld (US)
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?