Back in July(?) 2006 when Microsoft issued an update to the Windows Genuine Advantage tool, I figured I may as well install it (I’d be forced to eventually) on my one Windows box. So I installed it, and rebooted, and the login screen proclaimed loudly that Windows was not genuine. (Well, not literally loudly, it didn’t shout over the speakers or anything — which would be an interesting deterrent, now that I think about it.)

This came as something of a surprise, given that:

  • This was a Dell, not some no-name computer.
  • It still had the original OS install, and no hardware had been changed.
  • The previous version of WGA had reported no problems.

I logged in, did some searching on Microsoft’s knowledge base, and found a link that said something like “Validate here.” I clicked on it.

To my surprise, it told me my copy was perfectly valid.

I eventually concluded that Norton Internet Security had blocked the initial validation attempt. Because there was no desktop shell, there was no opportunity for it to pop up a notice and ask me if I wanted it to let the data through.

After that experience, I can’t say I’m surprised that Microsoft found many of their false positives to be the result of security software. Admittedly, they were looking at registry changes, crypto problems and McAfee, rather than a transient error with Norton.

(Reposted from this comment at Slashdot, mainly so I can find it again easily without searching.)

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