Microsoft Phones Home subject logo: UNIX
Posted by: badanov

This story was posted originally, as we saw it, on Slashdot.

For those unfamiliar with the isues, we will try to summarize.

Microsoft wants to keep on every PC running its operating system a program that will essentially "phone home" to Microsoft with certain data:

Windows product key
PC manufacturer
Operating System version
BIOS information (make, version, date)
BIOS MD5 Checksum
User locale (language setting for displaying Windows)
System locale (language version of the operating system)
Office product key (if validating Office)
Hard drive serial number

Microsoft says this program, named Windows Genuine Advantage, is meant to temper pirating of their software. Natually a number of web elements are up in arms about this latest intrusion or imposition, if you will, on customers because of a perceived "loss" of revenue.

The article featured is from a much more informed tech set than Slashdot, informed in that the clutter Slashdot is famous for is absent.

Anyway, those who are truly concerned about this latest problem and wish to stop MS from gaining this information really have very little choice. MS uses ports 80 outbound to connect and make the data interchange, and the only way to stop this program is to get a hardware DSL router and set it to block connections to the MS update sites, or to set an software firewall such as ZoneAlarm.

According to the article there is a range of ip addresses which must be blocked:

CIDR: 64.4/18 and 207.46/16

A Zone Alarm package which is set to block outbound packets will catch WGA attempting to phone in if set to watch for these connections.

We can understand MS's need to stop piracy, which they say in the US is as high as 20 percent, but we have to question the wisdom of angering 80 percent of your customers for a 20 percent additional sales margin. It makes no sense.

And in all fairness when we catch a customer with an extra copy of MS software, we warn them about the consequences and often seek to move them to use better, in our opinion, free or low cost alternatives to the overpriced packages MS sells.

If you have something to add, Fire Away!

Number of Comments so far: 0

Click here for a list of stories in the Unix and Computer category