WGA: Whose Advantage now?

Windows Genuine Advantage had serious problems this weekend beginning on Friday and lasting nearly a full day and turned thousands of computers into large metal paper weights this weekend, as the Windows Genuine Advantage software kept pinging the ‘home’ server for assurance that it was genuine, but the server malfunctioned! According to recent reports, it was out of service for nearly 19 hours! While this was embarrassing for XP users, it was outrageous for Vista Users who in many cases were denied full functionality of their PCs.

It has always seemed something of a misnomer to name the program Windows Genuine Advantage, because it really does not provide much advantage. In fact, it seems to have been a huge DIS-advantage, esp. if you have legitimately paid for your Vista License, and then find that you can no longer use it.

This raises a number of questions about the exact purposes of WGA.

1. Will Microsoft continue to allow Vista users to use their license for more than 10 years, as I can do now with Windows 3.1 or 95 or 98. What happens when Microsoft decides to call it a day, and force us all to upgrade to XP-Vista-SuperPremium-Deluxe-Basic Plan at about $2500.

2. Is WGA a multi-headed beast aimed to cut piracy, but also generate not just present profits from those would-be pirates, but also from genuine users who don’t WANT to upgrade?

3. If you take your PC to a repair shop, and they rip off your License number without telling you, you get your PC home and turn it on! Boom! Reduced functionality! Can you call the police? Is this considered a crime akin to robbery and theft?

I see a Penguin or a large cat in many people’s futures right now! I think Microsoft will continue to turn out much software, but this is the heyday for their Personal Computing side of the business. I predict that these kinds of problems will be the death knell for the consumers’ love affair with Windows… Variety, creativity and challenge will all return to the desktop.

Right now, though, the challenges to consumer habits are there: security issues, windows problems, price increases, alternate OSes in phones and handhelds, and competition; but there is not yet a serious alternative to Windows. Sorry, Apple! Once the alternative(s) arrive, all it will take is a bush fire to start the conversion.