In association with heise online

08 March 2007, 16:34

All Microsoft updates phone home

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Possibly as a reaction to heise Security's report that Windows Genuine Advantage Notification sends back data to Redmond even when users choose to terminate its installation, a Microsoft developer using the pseudonym alexkoc has now posted an entry in the WGA blog. There he reveals that every update that flows through Windows Update at the very least informs Microsoft about whether the installation was successful or not. In the Privacy Statement of Windows Update Microsoft grants itself fairly far-reaching rights. Thus the information collected by the Redmond-based behemoth includes the computer make and model, version information for the operating system, browser, and any other Microsoft software for which updates might be available, Plug&Play ID numbers of hardware devices, region and language setting, Globally Unique Identifier (GUID), Product ID and Product Key, BIOS name, revision number, and revision date. By way of justifying Microsoft's approach, alexkoc writes that the EULA, likewise presented by the WGA installer, also covered the relaying of such information. With some updates such as the WGA Notification, the installer transmits data that Microsoft says it merely requires for quality control purposes and to improve the installer itself. The WGA package thus, among other things, sends back an event code. To calm the fears of users, alexkoc presents a graphic explaining the various fields of such a data packet. When the product IDs and product keys found belong to legal software, Microsoft will delete the data right away; only in cases of suspected software piracy will it store the data, the company has said. In the blog, the company once again explicitly states that it does not use the information gathered to identify or contact users. See also:


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