Microsoft in Class Action Lawsuit over WGA Tool

A class action lawsuit has been filed in the U.S. District Court in Seattle against Microsoft Corp., over Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA), an antipiracy tool that gathers data on a user’s computer in an effort to detect bootlegged copies of its Windows operating system.

The lawsuit alleges that the program violates consumer protection laws in California and Washington state and laws against spyware — invasive programs that surreptitiously collect data.

Sony eventually compensated users who bought the affected CDs, which had software that installed itself without user consent and transmitted data, after a class-action suit.

“In truth and in fact, Microsoft, in its efforts to maximize revenue through antipiracy measures, misled consumers and the public as to the true nature, functionality and operation of its WGA,” the suit said.

In response to user complaints, Microsoft released a new version of WGA this week allowing people to opt out of notifications. The update also changes the frequency with which the program contacts Microsoft to check the validity of Windows.

Users have also complained that the software is buggy, labeling copies of Windows as counterfeits when the license may have been legitimately transferred to a different piece of hardware.

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