Why is this appearing again? In the last few weeks, I’ve seen many Windows XP users confronted with a window that pops up out of nowhere to install “Windows Genuine Advantage Notifications.”


Windows Genuine Advantage is Microsoft’s antipiracy tool, designed to identify pirated copies of Windows XP and make them irritating to use. It has no relevance to you and has nothing to do with security. WGA has been around for years and your computer has already passed this test – there’s no excuse for making you go through this again.

The software was actually downloaded as a “critical” update through the Automatic Updates system. You’re installing a new version of the WGA program with changes that are meaningless to you. There’s nothing new that justifies putting this in your face. Even worse, the installation fails a fair amount of the time.

So to be clear: the popup window about Windows Genuine Advantage is a legitimate Microsoft update and your computer will continue to annoy you until you install it. It’s not harmful. Go ahead and click Next. If you have trouble installing it the first time, download and install it manually. Here’s the link to the WGA software.

The truly unforgivable thing is the checkmark inserted by default after installation in a box that says, “Show me more information about the joys of running licensed software.” When you finish the WGA installation, your web browser takes you to a Microsoft anti-piracy web site.


An unexpected popup window, a vaguely described “update” out of nowhere, a rather bizarre trip to an irrelevant web site after installation – frankly, the whole experience resembles something I’d expect from a malware program, not from Microsoft.

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