Written by Raoul
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Topics: Microsoft, Court

Tuesday, 4 July 2006

image for Microsoft's Legal Setback

SEATTLE, WA - In a landmark decision today, U.S. District Court barred Microsoft Corporation from using the name "Windows Genuine Advantage". The Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) software is designed to thwart piracy and keep track of the programs and files users install on their computers.

"The program is neither genuine nor an advantage to consumers," stated U.S District Judge Thomas Greenfield Jefferson in a 60 page opinion. Judge Jefferson found that Microsoft's usage of the name Windows Genuine Advantage was fraudulent. He ordered the company to immediately re-brand the product to use a less misleading name.

Microsoft attorneys responded immediately by appealing the decision. "Considering the $125 million we contributed to the Senate and White House, this opinion is outrageous," responded Microsoft Attorney John Morgan. "We expected better from the pro-business Republican majority judiciary". Many experts expected Reagan appointed Judge Jefferson to be sympathetic to the Seattle based software giant.

In Judge Jefferson's opinion, he pointed out that the program offers no advantage to the consumer. In fact, the program collects personal information about the customer's computer, such as software configuration, usage, and web-site preferences and forwards the information to Microsoft. The program warns users if it detects unsanctioned files on the computer, and bars users from downloading software updates.

The program also cannot use the label "Genuine", because the majority of Microsoft products have been copied from other competing products. For example, Microsoft's popular Internet Explorer was copied almost wholly from a product called Netscape Navigator. The company's top selling Excel program is widely recognized as derivative of VisiCalc (1979), and Lotus 1-2-3 (1983).

"In fact, the name ‘Windows Genuine Advantage' is an oxymoron. This is one of the most egregious excesses of marketing I have ever seen," said Judge Jefferson. The court has given Microsoft 30 days to propose a new moniker for the product. Among the most popular are "Microsoft Derivative Disadvantage", "Windows Enforcer", and "Windows Ethnic Cleanser".

In a related story, Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) lawyers are reportedly conducting negotiations with Microsoft to tie into the Windows Genuine Advantage program. The RIAA sees the WGA program as an ideal way to reduce piracy of copyrighted materials such as music recordings. Because 95 percent of all computers run on the Microsoft platform, this would offer the RIAA a powerful tool in identifying potential violators. Microsoft executives have reportedly been positive about the alliance, seeing it as a further means to crush the freedom of computer users.

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