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Microsoft Expands Office Anti-Piracy Program

Microsoft expanded its anti-piracy program this week, shipping a new software update that checks whether Office users are running a licensed or pirated version of the productivity suite.


Windows users who have Automatic Updates turned on probably have by now noticed at least one new update available from Redmond. The patch represents the next phase of the Office Genuine Advantage (OGA) anti-piracy pilot program Microsoft launched last year. Microsoft says the update is being gradually rolled out to different countries, so the update will not be available to everyone at the same time.

The program checks against Office XP, Office 2003, and Office 2007 installations.

Even users who have Automatic Updates set to download and install patches for them will need to approve a license agreement before the OGA patch will fully install. That's a good thing, too, because according to Microsoft, this patch cannot be removed once it is installed. Also, there is no option to temporarily stop the nag messages, should a system fail the anti-piracy test.

If the validation program thinks an installation of one of these titles is not legit, it will display a message saying:

This copy of Microsoft Office is not genuine.

Please excuse this interruption. This copy of Microsoft Office did not pass validation. Click Learn More for details and for help identifying the best way to get genuine Microsoft Office.

In addition, the OGA checker will add a toolbar with a similar message to Office XP and Office 2003 versions that are detected as unlicensed, and a ribbon with an alert to that effect on Office 2007 systems.

My installation of Windows Vista also let me know about another non-security related update: Microsoft says this update changes the Windows time zone data to accommodate daylight saving time (DST) changes in several countries.

By Brian Krebs  |  August 26, 2009; 10:22 AM ET
Categories:  From the Bunker , Latest Warnings , New Patches , Piracy  | Tags: office genuine advantage oga anti-piracy  
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The black hats out there are no doubt putting together a "patch" that will eliminate OGA. Of course, in exchange for this favor, you will receive a package of Trojans, backdoors, and other malicious software. As OGA is killed, the real payload will install behind your back.

At some point, I can see OGA being upgraded by Microsoft to "Office Genuine Removal and Enforcement" or O.G.R.E. If OGRE detects an unauthorized Office installation, the pirated copy is removed and a special registry key added to prevent reinstallation.

Posted by: taskforceken | August 26, 2009 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Why on earth would anyone install this or WGA? This is exactly why I approve all updates manually. It doesn't take long, and I unchecked this one and checked "Don't remind me again" hours ago, before I had a chance to be forewarned.

Posted by: MaxH | August 26, 2009 4:30 PM | Report abuse

I also do a custom installation of ALL updates, least WGA or now this new OGA get downloaded by accident.

Again, my machine came with a genuine version of Windows XP Home and one of my employers installed 'their' corporate edition of XP Pro.

Then along came WGA and back then I was automatically downloading AND installing updates. Microsoft advised me after I called about my 'less than genuine' copy of XP Pro that apparently the employer had either over-installed the product, or some had copied it and the copies had been installed on a clearly excessive number of machines. I had allegedly 2 choices, namely pay up for a 'genuine certification' or remove XP Pro and do a complete reinstall of EVERYTHING. The third option of system restore [that wasn't mentioned] fortunately removed WGA.

My updates this morning were supposedly only 2 and neither indicated anything to do with genuine anything. I would simply go ahead and pay Microsoft the $160 [or whatever it was] but at some point I will probably have to purchase a genuine copy of Windows 7, along with a new machine to run it on.

After reading all the comments about Apple vs. Microsoft, including those of IT Pros that work with Windows, Linus, etc. all day long, but who enjoy the ease of having an Apple to go home to, I guess that could be a possibility, as is Ubuntu 9.04, but for some reason the copy that I downloaded of the Ubuntu Web site would not install correctly, so for now its XP Pro.

Posted by: | August 26, 2009 6:38 PM | Report abuse


Obviously I meant Linux, not Linus above.

Posted by: | August 26, 2009 6:39 PM | Report abuse

Using Microsoft's stuff is a matter of free choice. Alternatives are available. Microsoft's legitimate customers, who paid for the advantage that Microsoft's quality software gave them, have seen that advantage eroded by pirates enjoying the same quality for free. Piracy of Microsoft Office has also robbed the free-of-charge of the mindshare that fuels its plodding improvement and slowly-growing acceptance. Thus, while the public should applaud the restoration of a fair market, it is not clear that Microsoft will put a bite behind the bark.

Posted by: amturnip | August 26, 2009 6:47 PM | Report abuse

They should have an option to disable this. Automatic updates on an older laptop loaded windows live essentials helper, or something similar, and it wiped out the registration for the legitimate registered copy of office. Tech support with Microsoft to fix the issue failed.

Give users an option to turn it off after registering until your OGA software actually works.

Posted by: pj48 | August 26, 2009 8:46 PM | Report abuse

I don't blame Microsoft for defending themselves against piracy. People who are honest will have nothing to worry about!

Posted by: eisiminger1 | August 26, 2009 9:44 PM | Report abuse

I paid $150 for my version of Office and had genuine advantage issues. Wasted a ton of time and barely got it sorted out before school started. Granted my case was very improbable, but why would I risk it again if I get nothing out of installing this update?

Posted by: Booyah5000 | August 26, 2009 11:22 PM | Report abuse

I haven't used MS Office (OpenOffice is not nearly so quirky) for years, and I eradicate all traces of the "free-trial" demos on new computers. I STILL get the OGA update notice on both my laptop and desktop. They are nothing if not irritatingly persistent!

Posted by: canyon2912 | August 27, 2009 9:22 AM | Report abuse

All complainers Puleeeeze move to the free software! Someday MS will just be another software company - hurry us along.

Posted by: Sadler | August 27, 2009 9:48 AM | Report abuse

I do use computer/s, but I am still a "know nothing" about computers. Years ago when I first bought a computer, it came with everything (CPU, Monitor, printer, all program disks installed in the computer, and a complete book on all about the computer with total how to use that you could look up and fix just about any problem-at that time). Those days they actually helped the customers with gald tidings and smiles.

Now, the computer industry keeps people like me in the dark. They no longer sell a complete set (OK, let's forget the printer for now). I would never be able to figure out the problems that I may run into in that "Help" file. Many companies now sell only the CPU (yes, the mouse and key pad), but no monitor Unless you pay an Extreme price for it. And, of course, there is no such complete book on the computer system that they sell for the user to be able to look up and possibly fix. That's another Expreme you may end up paying.

And, you wonder why the people are out there trying to use the cheapest method for computer usuage, piracy even. You say we have a choice. YES, either Pay with every drop of our blood, sweat, and tears (Money, Most of All) or be in the Dark in the age where everyone is being FORCED to use computers to do most of the stuff of life.

All you Brainiacs and those who thinks or knows that they are Brainacs, Please Be Kind to us Human Beings Inhabiting this Earth of Ours and stop thinking only about Profit on top of Profit. Profit may make yous, but many can no longer afford just about anything, hence the piracy.

Posted by: SOCIETY1 | August 27, 2009 10:24 AM | Report abuse

This is directed to all the mindless lemmings (yes you, eisiminger1):

If the computer is yours (i.e. you own it) and it is in your house, this amounts to an illegal search. Think about it, police investigators must have a warrant (obtained from a judge and detailing a reasonable suspicion you may have committed a crime) to do the same exact thing. Does Rolex send someone into your house and go through your jewelry in the middle of the night to make sure you don't have a knockoff watch? If evidence is obtained any other way itis inadmissable and opens that agency to lawsuits. C'mon, think it through...

Posted by: LieToMe | August 27, 2009 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Do you delete comment/s that you don't like or the possible Truth?

I can't find the one I posted.
Would you let me know how to look for it?

Posted by: SOCIETY1 | August 27, 2009 11:10 AM | Report abuse

Sorry! It must be this computer or something. The stuff I posted did not show a few minutes ago. Again, sorry if I offened through dinasaurism.

Posted by: SOCIETY1 | August 27, 2009 11:15 AM | Report abuse

Sometimes it takes a few minutes for comments to appear. The Post's comments server gets overloaded, or something like that. BK rarely (if ever) deletes comments.

Posted by: Heron | August 27, 2009 1:24 PM | Report abuse

"People who are honest will have nothing to worry about!"

Unless the Microsoft OGA software crashes your legitimate copy of office and the Microsoft tech support (read from a script) over the phone fails to fix it.

Posted by: pj48 | August 27, 2009 2:05 PM | Report abuse

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