Microsoft retires Office Genuine Advantage program

By on December 20, 2010, 10:00 AM
Microsoft has silently killed off one of its primary weapons against Office piracy: its Office Genuine Advantage (OGA) program. ZDNetís Ed Bott first reported the shut down after receiving word from a tipster, and now Microsoft has confirmed it in a note at the top of several Knowledge Base articles. The tool basically required anyone wanting to download an Office add-in or template to go through a validation process first to prove that theyíre running a legit copy of the software.

The move affects all versions of the productivity suite, including Office 2010, which was only released a few months ago. What it doesnít affect is Office activation, which still requires a 25-character product key and direct contact with Microsoftís activation servers, so itís not like the software giant has totally given up the fight against piracy. Still, one less hurdle to jump over for legitimate users is always a nice thing.




User Comments: 30

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madboyv1, TechSpot Paladin, said:

It never really bothered me, but I guess some people will be happy about this.

Benny26 Benny26, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Microsoft killing something that fights piracy in their own products?...Must be a bug going round or something?

Archean Archean, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I think rather then wasting time and resources on things like WGA, they should consider cutting all 'non-development' overheads with regard to their software development; which should enable them to progressively lower prices of their products, lower prices should help alleviate the issue in the first place to a reasonable degree. Another tactic would be 'region' specific pricing, e.g. W7x64U should sell for lot less in poorer regions like India (I think 75-80$ seems fair price for this OS version, and lower for other versions).

But the fact is, every corporation is obsessed with the idea of 'highest possible profits' (a disease of capitalism in the first place) hence in a way they are themselves to be blamed for such high rate of piracy.

Leeky Leeky said:

But the fact is, every corporation is obsessed with the idea of 'highest possible profits' (a disease of capitalism in the first place) hence in a way they are themselves to be blamed for such high rate of piracy.

I totally agree, though its beyond my understanding to suggest suitable pricing, but I'm gonna try...

But, if I want a retail copy of Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit right now, I need to spend £164.00 which is frankly obscene.

I personally think MS should stop messing around with some many flavours and keep it simple... 1 version for home users, and 1 version for business users, or just have one version (e.g. Ultimate) to do absolutely everything at one price.

Take Apple for example...

[link]

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And Apple are supposed to be the most expensive of the two computer industries!

[link]

Considering MS has the majority share in the computer OS market, its disgusting they're also the most expensive. If they sold the OS for around £25-40 a kick, it would almost guarantee a stop to piracy, and the extra revenue earned from all the previously illegal users of their software would likely more than make up the difference in income lost!

Guest said:

You can bet that MicroDollars hasn't given up on piracy. Just wait; a new antipirate method will debut so0n.....

Archean Archean, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Considering MS has the majority share in the computer OS market, its disgusting they're also the most expensive. If they sold the OS for around £25-40 a kick, it would almost guarantee a stop to piracy, and the extra revenue earned from all the previously illegal users of their software would likely more than make up the difference in income lost!

Its funny you would say that, I know an instance where a user switched to using a 'pirated' version of OS just to ditch Vista, why did they do that? 1) Their belief that MS gave them a pretty 'sluggish' and un-optimized OS in the first (to which I agree), 2) they didn't wanted to pay 100s of dollars to get another OS. I think had MS said like 'okay we are going to give away Win7 to Vista owners at say 30$ a license' I am sure that would have solved the problem in the first place.

Benny26 Benny26, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Leeky said:

But, if I want a retail copy of Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit right now, I need to spend £164.00 which is frankly obscene.

Yeah too right. It was more than double that when it hit the shops around my area. Look at MS Office 2010 aswell, It was like £300 for a three user license last time i went in.

Worst decision i ever made was buying an OEM Windows Vista home premium for £80 in my local shop...I'll never get that money back now.

Leeky Leeky said:

It likely would have Archean.

I'm often fixing computers for friends, and usually always with illegal versions of Office 2010 and Windows 7 as well.

I don't agree with the use of illegal, or otherwise pirated software/OS' but I can also sympathise with them that the cost of purchasing Windows 7 as a retail version for essentially web browsing is cost prohibitive.

As advanced users, we prefer to have the latest when possible, and are prepared to pay for the privilege, but the average user checking emails does not need this. I wouldn't think much about spending over £600 on my SSD, but to my friends (with different interests) they'd be anxious about even spending that much on the entire computer.

@Benny26

I'd never purchase Office outside of a Student offer. I last purchased Office Ultimate 2007 for £49.95 including backup media direct from Microsoft. That'll do me till the next release after 2010, I'd never spend the money they'd demand for the retail or even OEM versions - But then I'd never run illegal versions either, it just isn't worth it.

Archean Archean, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Not many here would vouch for use of illegal software, but it is good to see some very good points being raised here.

I think your idea of just two versions of windows i.e. one for business and one for home sound pretty reasonable; and relatively more 'affordable' prices to go along with will sweeten the deal for most users.

Now to office, I think MS should rather let users decide which office tool they want; they can sell each tool for say 20 +/- dollars. So e.g. a user only need word/pp/excel/onenote and nothing else, the price (80 +/- $) becomes much more attractive.

matrix86 matrix86 said:

Leeky said:

And Apple are supposed to be the most expensive of the two computer industries!

Yes, Apple is the most expensive of the computer industry. Microsoft is the most expensive of the OS industry. Break it down like this:

~The Microsoft OS is more expensive than the Mac OS

~The physical computer, Mac computers are more expensive than computers running Windows

Leeky Leeky said:

@Archean

I think its important to understand and discuss the reasons for why it has become so widespread, as an enthusiast community we can sometimes lose track of the real reasons in cases like the ones we're discussing now.

I think your idea of Office is very plausible. Strictly speaking out of all the software titles in the Ultimate pack, I only use two; Word and Excel. Every single other application hasn't been used since forever now. However, given the price I legally paid for it, I didn't mind the expense.

@Matrix86

I think I could have worded that better. My point was more than Apple can offer an upgrade from 10.5 to 10.6 (SL) for just £25.00. Some of that will also be profit, so its fair to say when compared with Microsoft that a vast percentage of the £164.00 price for W7 Ultimate retail is profit, and therefore obscene.

Cota Cota said:

People will always find a way to break the activations, give it up and start making some changes so your software doesnt feel like a ripoff, i love paying for Acces, Outlook, InfoPath, One Note and SharePoint even if i dont even install it because i never use it....

Archean Archean, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I must admit I missed a point earlier on, i.e. MS do provide us with Service Packs free of charge, now may be that also need to be factored in the pricing strategy, but even then the retail price of their OS is on the higher side.

Leeky Leeky said:

@Archean,

I personally think this is a given, not something that should be charged for. Realistically speaking, when the SP is stripped down, is there any fundamental difference between Linux and Apple's OS X in terms of updates?

Apple don't charge for updates, and they offer fairly substantial updates as part of the ongoing evolution of their OS.

I'd rather spend £20 a year on a new OS, replaced annually (or bi-annually) than follow several SP's just to get something current and up to date.

For example, Vista is a joke for updates currently; I spent nearly 8 hours doing update after update on the MSI X340 after deciding to move over to dual boot on it. Should it really be THAT involved?

I know for a fact that the majority of the computers I've looked at in the last 12 months have all been missing the latest service pack, because the owners aren't prepared to sit for hours while it downloads and then updates just so they can carry on spending 10 mins a day reading their emails.

Apple, Linux, OpenSolaris, BSD and others all make it very simple to perform updates. Microsoft in my opinion as per usual, complicate matters and make a routine thing a chore for the every day user. If Microsoft are going to release a SP, it should be something you can upgrade immediately from a fresh install. I had to do nearly 200 updates BEFORE it would let me do the latest Service pack update - That's just plain frustrating!

Benny26 Benny26, TechSpot Paladin, said:

@Leeky,

I didn't personally want office 2010, it was for a family company that we inquired for. We actually first asked for the price on the 12 license (but 2 heart attacks later) tryed to dumb it down abit ...I just use open office myself, i think it's brill.

@Archean

I like the idea of having MS Office in segments, in fact, i could really see it going that way in the future to be honest.

Cota Cota said:

matrix86 said:

Yes, Apple is the most expensive of the computer industry. Microsoft is the most expensive of the OS industry. Break it down like this:

~The Microsoft OS is more expensive than the Mac OS

~The physical computer, Mac computers are more expensive than computers running Windows

That can be easily explained

~For the good side Microsoft OS can be installed in an infinite number of Motherboards including a huge compatibility whit hardwares, and by the bad part, it haves a lot of tools you may or may not need. While Mac OS is only intended for a small number of hardwares. Thats why Microsoft OS is more expensive. (Also Win OS's suffer piracy heavily, while Mac OS is protected because his incompatibility whit hardware. Yes Steve, thats why Microsoft have's "Activation" .

~One of the good thing about Mac is the idea of never putting the minimum system stats for their OS, they always ensure their Mac's have what it takes to work well (PC's took that idea after Windows Vista), however they went really up now, Mac's have some things that to be honest most of the people will never use (more ram wont make you smarter or will give you talent). You can get a end-generation PC whit less of the price of a cheap Mac.

Guest said:

To Archean: [(I think 75-80$ seems fair price for this OS version, and lower for other versions).

But the fact is, every corporation is obsessed with the idea of 'highest possible profits' (a disease of capitalism in the first place) hence in a way they are themselves to be blamed for such high rate of piracy.]

You must be communist... or maybe facist? Capitalism guarantees, with anti-trust and anti-monopoly laws enforced, that the buyer and the seller gets a fair price. If buyer doesn't agree with the price he/she walks away from the bargaining table. If producer/manufacturer can't produce the product at a price that guarantees costs are covered and a fair profit is made, then the producer/manufacturer closes up shop and brings nothing to the bargaining table.

Don't even try to tell me that MS is the only choice... that would be pathetic.

**Last paragraph removed**

Leeky Leeky said:

Don't even try to tell me that MS is the only choice... that would be pathetic.

The vast majority of the average users I speak to, don't even realise their are alternatives to Windows.

An above average user, or an enthusiast might well, but the average John Doe has absolutely no idea other operating systems exist, in large part due to the thought that the operating system is the computer, not a separate entity.

Guest said:

If you don't like the prices that capitalistic markets set for you, then install Ubuntu and Open Office for the users. They'll figure it out in a few days.

I know whole offices that do this. There is no excuse other than your own mismanagement of your finances and class envy that would cause anyone to come down on capitalism. Capitalism forces no one to do anything! It's a beautiful thing! Socialism, Communism, and Facism are failed systems due to stupid people trying to screw with the market. If business management is too stupid to adequately price their products, they are out on the street with every other anti-capitalist.

Leeky Leeky said:

If you don't like the prices that capitalistic markets set for you, then install Ubuntu and Open Office for the users. They'll figure it out in a few days.

And that there is one of the biggest reasons Linux as a rule struggles with the masses.

You can't just install it for someone, and then expect a novice to comprehensively re-learn absolutely every little piece of information they have learned to date.

Its very flexible, powerful and highly-configurable, but only when you have the skill set to take advantage of it all. Microsoft Windows is very good for "point and shoot" tasks, involving the GUI to perform pretty much all tasks. Linux has come along leaps and bounds in the last few years with this, but in my opinion the following let it down:

  1. Driver support for hardware and peripherals, especially printers, USB to WLAN/LAN devices, webcams, as well as USB device user settings.
  2. You then have the issue with GPU drivers, and other hardware drivers - Which is pretty good, but far from perfect.
  3. The GUI can't handle all tasks, and using terminal to do tasks is beyond the scope of the average user.
  4. Software installation is too complex in most instances. Apt-get (for example) works well, but most novices want an auto installer running from a disk to do the installation, while they point and click and it works (sorting out dependencies on the fly).

There are more, but those are the main ones that spring to mind. For the record, I've been using Ubuntu for several years now, and it has its uses, and I wouldn't be without it, but at the same time its just not ready for novices, or most average users, because it takes too much time away from your tasks in hand. Given time, it will be, but that is still a few years away, and even so, its doubtful any OS is capable of even remotely challenging Microsoft's stake.

Guest said:

I totally agree that GNU has serious draw backs in Linux distros. I like Ubuntu a lot, and know it has drawbacks due to funding issues.

MS has issues, too, but fortunately they charge an adequate price that allows for constant movement with technology, or should I say at the leading edge. Apple might come out once in a while and stand at the head of the pack as far as leading once in a while, but their proprietary, sometimes incompatible, unexpandable products can just sit on a shelf... Unless you are into graphic design, or marketing. Their biggest problem for MS is getting sued by every little vendor that puts some code together and expects MS to be compatible. If their crap don't work, they sue. MS has huge overhead! So, considering their target on their back all the time, I have to say that their prices, that have to pay R&D, a huge legal department along with Attorney retainer fees are fair.

Most users use Office programs and print... that's it. Put Ubuntu and Open Office on their PC and setup a printer for them and then a little training and you have competition for MS. Even if the user wants to browse the Internet, that's no biggy either. Works very much the same.

lchu12 lchu12 said:

I'm reading these posts with mixed opinions. On one hand, I can see that these software "do" take a chunk of money. But on the other hand, Microsoft is a company and not a charity. They have to pay their employees, which in turn those people have their own families to feed. If Microsoft does not have enough money to pay for its employees, those people ain't gonna stick around cause they feel attachement, they are gonna leave because they aren't getting paid.

As to the capitalist comment: No one is pointing a gun to your head to use their software. You can use Open Office like Benny26 (which IMHO is alright also with no problem) But to other companies that are using these software for work, it will just be the "cost" of doing business. Also lowering the cost of these software will not only affect their profit margins, but also does NOT gurantee to lower piracy. Hell even 99 cents a song is not eliminating piracy. Humans are selfish and will most likely complain that the software is too expensive even with a reduction of 50% of the price.

I hope everyone will look at a story or situation from two sides or from another perspective from time to time. Also I don't mean to offend anyone in particular, but I just feel this needs to be said.

slh28 slh28, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Office isn't the same as a Windows OS - not everyone needs it. I'm pretty sure most people can get by their usual computing tasks using Open Office or Google Docs, etc. In fact to save space on my SSD I've chosen not to install MS Office on my computer.

For those people who really need Word and Excel at home, I'm sure the price tag isn't unreasonable. That's why the "Office Genuine Advantage" was such a waste of time - people who bought it would have paid any price for it and people who pirated it would never have bought a copy anyway. Which isn't the same case for an OS.

Guest said:

Even on the tech board, right-wing political garbage shows up.

How much software have you seen that works with OS's other than MS or Mac? Microsoft DOES enjoy a near-monopoly, due to unique factors in the computer industry. That's why the Justice Department took action against them when they attempted to tighten their grip on the market.

Capitalism is the best economic system thus far, but it still has many flaws, especially in the US, where too many fervent believers think private enterprise is perfect and government causes all our troubles. Critisizing capitalism's flaws does not make one a socialist or communist. On the other hand, attacking someone as such does demonstrate a lack of knowledge of economic systems. Capitalism without proper regulation becomes disfunctional, as demonstrated over the last few years.

Leeky Leeky said:

I totally agree that GNU has serious draw backs in Linux distros. I like Ubuntu a lot, and know it has drawbacks due to funding issues.

Most users use Office programs and print... that's it. Put Ubuntu and Open Office on their PC and setup a printer for them and then a little training and you have competition for MS. Even if the user wants to browse the Internet, that's no biggy either. Works very much the same.

Funding isn't really so much of an issue as far as I am aware as they have huge backing.

The theory, and your logic are sound, but unfortunately its never as simple as that. There are many printers compatible with Linux, but many aren't. Its not so much an issue though, because you could always purchase Linux certified printers, guaranteed to work.

The issue comes from the day to day suitability for the tasks in hand.

Open Office is very good, but it still suffers with issues relating to formatting of text between MS Office and Openoffice and other formats. Even with identical fonts between both packages I can never get the formatting to remain consistent between both applications.

I think this seriously frustrating because I prefer to do my day to day work, and studying inside of Linux, and leave W7 for purely gaming. I now find myself studying and writing assignments in W7, just so I can present them correctly to my tutors. They're aware I use Linux, but I still feel embarrassed presenting work with formatting all over the place when done in OpenOffice Writer.

Other issues are with updating. It doesn't matter how you look at it, some time or another your going to have to use the terminal, and at that point your have a seriously upset and overworked sys admin running around trying to resolve everything. There are ways around it like remotely doing maintenance, but either way it creates an awful lot of work, and the savings made in using free software/OS' are replaced by paying a lot of money for experienced Linux engineers.

Don't get me wrong, I want to see it happen, but from years of using it, I've come to realise that sometimes its easier not to recommend it to some people. Give it 10 years and the story will likely be different though; least I'm hoping so.

Benny26 Benny26, TechSpot Paladin, said:

slh28 said:

Office isn't the same as a Windows OS - not everyone needs it.

Some would say, not everyone needs a windows OS...Just look at those guys on "un-bung-too" and Linux.

I do need a Windows OS though, cos i'm a mediocre person.

Guest said:

It's good to see at least some PC users finally waking up to realize how MS has been seriously taking us for a ride. When one finally puts it all together, Apple Mac is a better value from practically every angle at the moment.

We should not let the up-front price of a PC fool us; there are a lot of shenanigans going on to get that seemingly bargain sticker price on there with "crapware" (including Windows Home edition and Office Starter/30-day) being only the tip of the iceberg. The expression "Time is money" is highly applicable here.

As a PC/Mac consultant having hundreds of client relationships, the writing has been on the wall for a number of years now. In the vast majority of cases the Mac users are getting considerably more years, problem-free up-time, resale value and overall satisfaction out of their purchase than my PC clients. With my colleagues the results are the same.

This does not necessarily mean every one should buy Apple but I believe it is a very strong indictment of where the long-term value is for most users in this sector.

Archean Archean, TechSpot Paladin, said:

You must be communist... or maybe facist? Capitalism guarantees, with anti-trust and anti-monopoly laws enforced, that the buyer and the seller gets a fair price. If buyer doesn't agree with the price he/she walks away from the bargaining table. If producer/manufacturer can't produce the product at a price that guarantees costs are covered and a fair profit is made, then the producer/manufacturer closes up shop and brings nothing to the bargaining table.

If you had bothered to grasp the underlying argument in my remarks, you would have understood that for any system to succeed you need stern checks and balances in the system. Which capitalism lacks in the longer run, hence the higher prices as one entity gets more and more foothold in a certain market (or a niche); which ultimately results in 'wealth's concentration in few hands and far less competition (which is exactly the case being observed in many of the western economies)'; and I don't have to debate about the ways and means through which these institutions try to minimize their taxes etc.

I don't see it as something pro or against capitalism, it is simple logical discussion about shortcomings of a system; which when nations do not address they get mired in social and economic issues. Now do I need to lay out the details how US economy crashed because of so called 'economic freedom' unleashed by Reagon in 1980s which is ultimately the cause creation of 'bubble economy based on paper' and of current economic mess, with not much industrial base to initiate a recovery, the treasury is reduced to just keep printing and pumping the dollars to keep it afloat, making US even more reliant on the likes of China and Japan; which is resulting in reduction of US power as an empire.

I think a fair system would not allow the concentration of wealth in 'fewer' hands but rather it would spread it across the society in a more appropriate way; one way of doing so is to keep the business people out of 'Govt.'s decision making processes completely', one may ask why is that, the answer is they will always come up with laws which 'reduce their obligation to pay taxes'; however, I would emphasize that Govt. should provide ample fair & conducive environment for businesses to compete and flourish in a more 'equal way'.

Guest said:

Well said Archean. Typically when one throws around terms like "communist", "fascist" or "right-wing / left-wing" etc. it is a quick indication of a pre-grade four level intellect but you were patient and compassionate enough to try and help him realize that reality is far more colorful and complex than a black & white comic book or a Fox TV "news" segment.

If ones motivation is primarily to increase wealth for oneself or a handful of others then they have no business being in government. If for some time the governments of the world had been solely and collectively interested in the well being of the planet then we would likely be living in a very different world right now. Unfortunately, a great many are attracted to governance simply for their own small minded selfish interests and are utterly ignorant of the disastrous interdependence that results from their foolishness.

SNGX1275 SNGX1275, TS Forces Special, said:

Aside from the political debate..

I think Microsoft needs a 2 pronged approach to this - eliminating piracy checks is kind of a weak prong, and almost unnecessary if they did lower prices. Student versions aren't that unreasonable since they can be installed on 3 systems, but their retail ones are still way too expensive.

I think they need to address the retail pricing in the near future because the university I'm at has moved all the students off Exchange servers and given us a choice of migrating to gmail or Outlook Live. Well most of us are familiar with gmail so we moved there - in the transition they were really pimping out Google Apps and their ability to allow collaboration on documents. I think Office does this too, but again there is the price thing. If universities start churning out classes of people that are using Google Apps more in their coursework then maybe when they are in decision making positions at their businesses they'll see moving to an online office suite is a good way to cut costs.

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