Windows Genuine Advantage and the Blue Screen of Death

2006-08-11 02:52

If you aren’t a techie, it may not be immediately obvious how incredibly incompetent the people who maintain Windows are.

But rest assured; this is not merely the incompetence of a large company. This is the incompetence of people who make you wonder whether they’re actually trying to get things wrong.

Other people have written about Windows Genuine Advantage Fuckups. My own data points are these:

1. Windows Update now goes through “svchost.exe”, the Generic Process That Does Everything. What this means is that you can’t set most firewalls to allow “Windows Update” but not allow “Any Program Whatsoever That Wants To Use This API”. Because any program can just go ahead and ask svchost.exe to do its magic; either you let them all do it, or none of them.
2. The moment I ran Windows Genuine Advantage, to “validate” my ultra-critical security patches, my machine crashed with the Blue Screen of Death.

It’s not as though my machine normally crashes. I mean, ever. I play video games, even fairly abusively high-spec ones, and everything’s fine. I run it for days on end of heavy load under Linux.

But the WGA code, with its surreal combination of incoherence and needing absolute control over everything, can indeed kill it.

Way to go. Once again, I am left wondering why on earth anyone pays for Microsoft software. It appears that the hundreds of dollars I’ve spent on XP licenses buy me, in total, nothing at all; I’m still gonna be treated like a thief, up to and including the part where the updates act really strange or reboot my system. I still don’t get any kind of customer service.

In short, MS is saddling me with all the penalties they talk about wanting for people who copy their software without paying for it.

Malice? Nah, just incompetence.

(For the record, some three reboots later, the twenty or so most recent critical security patches have been loaded. Now back to UNIX administration, where I sip a cool drink while pondering whether I ought to apply a theoretical security patch where a combination of circumstances that does not apply to any of my current customers could potentially allow someone to view data after their permission to do so has been withdrawn. It can’t happen unless we acquire a set of customers who want to share a database, so it’s not urgent. We haven’t had an urgent issue in quite some time.)

Peter Seebach

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