Over the weekend, millions of Microsoft customers who attempted to download software updates from the company's website were erroneously accused of running pirated Windows versions, thanks to a glitch in the Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) system. As a result, users’ computers were stripped of features, including the Aero graphical interface and DirectX support.
The software giant blamed the error on an unspecified server problem, which has since been fixed:
"I'd encourage anyone who received a validation failure since Friday evening to visit this site now; after successfully revalidating, any affected system should be rebooted to ensure that genuine-only features are restored," Windows Vista product manager Nick White said.
The WGA failure highlights a major flaw in Microsoft's anti-piracy strategy. Sure, the company has the right to protect its intellectual property, but it should do so in a way that won’t degrade a user’s computing experience based on erroneous accusations. Microsoft hasn’t provided any explanations yet as to why the outage happened, or what they are doing to prevent it from happening again.