Application security

Microsoft hit with second Windows Genuine Advantage lawsuit

Microsoft was hit this week with another lawsuit charging that the company's Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) program violates spyware regulations. It was the second such suit in as many weeks.

The latest complaint, which also seeks class-action status, was filed on behalf of a pair of Washington state companies and three residents of the state in U.S. District Court in Seattle, according to numerous media reports.

WGA can ping Microsoft if it finds pirated software being used on a PC. Redmond has made new versions of WGA available and has published instructions on how to remove the software altogether.

On Monday, anti-virus vendor Sophos warned users of a newly discovered instant messenger worm posing as WGA.

Last week, a suit by Brian Johnson, a Los Angeles resident, claimed that Microsoft did not disclose enough details of the tool when it was set for download through Automatic Update.

In response to the suit filed by Johnson, Jim Desler, director of corporate communications for Microsoft, said the suit was without merit.

"We believe these allegations are without merit and distort the objectives of our anti-piracy program. This lawsuit should not obscure the real issue here – and that is the harm caused by software piracy. The WGA program has been carefully developed to focus on this industry-wide problem in a manner that is lawful and provides customers with the confidence and assurance that they are running legitimate software," he said. "We are constantly improving our communications, as the program has evolved with the help of constructive feedback from our customers and partners."

Desler said Wednesday that he believed the most recent suit was similar to the first.

"Our understanding is that the claims in the second suit are similar and, like the first suit, are also without merit," he said.

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