Microsoft designed its Windows Genuine Advantage Program to give people an incentive to move to and stay on legitimate, licensed copies of Windows. Because of WGA, pirated copies of Windows are no longer allowed to be updated, and many Microsoft tools and programs that would normally be freely available are now only available to licensed customers.
Unfortunately, many people who do have legitimate copies of Windows are unable to validate their computers through WGA. This is frustrating, since the validation process is a bit of a black box, especially for people who aren't technically inclined. But even those who are technically inclined may have a hard time diagnosing why WGA isn't working.
Microsoft has created a tool to help disentangle WGA validation issues. The Microsoft Genuine Advantage Tool (version 1.5) is a standalone executable (no installation required) that polls the system it's run on to determine if there are any obvious problems with WGA.
The program has four tabs: Windows, OEM, Office and Browser. Each one lists diagnostic information that can be used to determine a problem with WGA.
The main Windows tab will list whether or not WGA has validated Windows as genuine in the first place, as well as product ID and WGA version information (to determine, for instance, if there's an earlier version of the WGA components installed).
Under Browser, you can examine a number of common browser settings that can cause WGA to fail if they aren't set correctly. Note: One important setting -- whether or not data sources can be access across domains -- is notlisted here. This is because it is not a browser-wide setting but a zone-specific setting, and so needs to be checked depending on what zone you have Microsoft.com set in for your copy of IE.
The tool can be further used in conjunction with Microsoft's own interactive WGA diagnostic Web site.
About the author: Serdar Yegulalp is editor of the Windows Power Users Newsletter. Check it out for the latest advice and musings on the world of Windows network administrators. He is also the author of the book Windows Server Undocumented Solutions.
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