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What exactly is Microsoft’s Windows Genuine Advantage? I had a problem with it the other day and I would like to know more about it. Please help!

Yes, this happens quite often. I’m sure you’re not the only one who has been struck by the Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) pop up balloon and I know you won’t be the last. Basically, the WGA is an anti-piracy program that Microsoft created in 2005. The program is set in place to require Windows users to validate that they have a genuine “real” copy of any Windows operating system.

The WGA comes to your attention through a little pop up bubble in the system tray on your desktop. Even with all of those pop ups annoying you to no end, this one could top them all. So, let’s say you’re trying to access a program within a Windows service. Maybe you’re trying to do an update and you’re getting that update from the Microsoft Download Center. Well, expect a WGA pop up, because it will happen. This is true with any Windows program you try to use.

So, why is Microsoft doing this? Well, they’re trying to cut down the number of pirated copies of their operating systems that are still being used today. Unfortunately, some people are using “fake” copies and as with everything else, it ruins the fun for everyone. So, even if you know you have a genuine version of your operating system, you’ll probably still be required to prove it. And although it’s a pain that you have to go through that, you have to think about Microsoft’s view on the whole thing.

Yes, they already have a lot of money embedded in everything that they do, but they’re losing out with all the people who are using pirated versions. It’s not fair to everyone to let those certain people get away with it, so as a result, they have to question all of their users. If you get caught by the WGA pop up bubble, Microsoft just wants you to verify that your computer’s hardware matches up with the 25 character product key that came with your Windows installation CD.

The bubble will say something like “You may be a victim of software counterfeiting. This copy of Windows is not genuine. Click this balloon to resolve now.” To fix the problem, just click the balloon and you will be asked to manually enter your 25 character code. This code can be found on your Windows installation disk that came with your computer when you bought it. This will work for whichever version you use. You can also usually find the code on the side or on the back of your actual PC. So, be sure to check there as well.

Just enter in the key and click OK. If your copy is genuine, Microsoft will leave you alone and you can go about your business. Now, if you decide not to resolve the issue right away, you will continue to receive error messages when you go to download something from a Windows service. This message will say something like “This copy of Windows is not genuine and you have not yet resolved this issue. This computer is no longer eligible to receive select security upgrades from Microsoft. To protect your copy of Windows, you must click Get Genuine now.” So, as you can see, you need to take care of this issue as soon as it comes about or you’ll risk missing out on important security updates for your computer.

Older versions of Windows may not have as many problems with this, but Windows XP users can expect to see it. You can also check the validity of your operating system by running the Windows Validation Assistant. You can do that right now from this Web site if you’d like. It’s not a bad idea to do this as well.

Keep yourself safe from any piracy acts and set yourself straight right away!

~ Erin