21 December 2010

Microsoft shelves Office Genuine Advantage tool (by Josh Lowensohn CNET) 

In what can be considered a small victory for those who dislike additional security checks after purchasing software, Microsoft has quietly discontinued the use of its Genuine Advantage checker tool for Microsoft Office.

The antipiracy measure, called Office Genuine Advantage (OGA), required that users verify the legitimacy of their Office software before being able to download add-ons and templates from Microsoft, as well as download software updates Microsoft deemed "non-critical."

The OGA program had been put into place in late 2006 as a follow-up to Microsoft's Windows Genuine Advantage tool, which does similar checks to make sure copies of Windows are not pirated in order to receive updates and security patches.

ZDNet's Ed Bott, who discovered the end of the OGA program via a reader tip over the weekend, notes that Microsoft has done little to alert users to the end of the program besides mentioning it at the top of a knowledge base article. Additionally, a page called "Benefits of genuine Office" remains up on Microsoft's Office site, detailing what the company considers advantages of using genuine software.

One program that's not being shelved as part of OGA's end of life is Microsoft's policy of replacing counterfeited software with genuine copies in cases where customers believed they were buying the real thing. That program, which also began in 2006, aimed both at helping people who had accidentally bought good fakes, as well as giving Microsoft leads on where it was coming from.

The removal of OGA does not mean a lapse in the front-line security Microsoft employs to keep software pirates at bay. Users still need to enter in a 25-character activation key when first installing the software in order to unlock its license. Just like in its Windows operating system, users who skip this step are still able to use the software, but with reduced functionality.

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