If you have installed any Microsoft updates recently (and you flaming well should have!) then you will no doubt have noticed something called Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) being offered up. This software, which collects information about a system's configuration - such as make and model, regional settings, product keys, hard drive serial numbers and so forth - is now at the centre of a fresh legal attack against Microsoft for yet again doing something naughty.
The company is currently being sued on the grounds that it misled consumers about the tool's purpose by bundling it with a batch of security updates. It is alleged that Microsoft installed WGA 2006 Verification without specific notice to or endorsement from users. An update to the software not only presented users of pirated copies of Windows with sporadic warnings, but also contacted a Microsoft server on a daily basis. This has led many to dub the software as spyware.
Caught with their pants down a little, Microsoft has since changed the tool to check in every 14 days, and has also released instructions on how to remove Windows Genuine Advantage. Therefore, Microsoft now considers the software optional, but it should be noted that the company requires users to pass WGA authentication in order to receive non-security patches, essentially making "opting out" of installing the software a little difficult to say the least.