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A Genuine Disadvantage

ET phone home!
 - D Barrymore
ET phone home every day!
 - B Gates, Microsoft


SEATTLE (Rixstep) -- Microsoft admit they need to better inform Windows users their computers 'phone home' on a daily basis.

Part of yet another cockamamie scheme called 'Genuine Advantage', the supposed 'safety measure' [sic] has previously been an undisclosed 'secret', the ostensible purpose of which is to 'protect' users in the event of a 'system malfunction'.

'It's kind of a safety switch', reports the eloquent David Lazar who runs Microsoft's latest spy game.

Microsoft added the measure because the company's 'pirate check' is still considered a 'pilot program' [<-- read 'bugged like all Microsoft products'].

In the event the 'pirate check' malfunctions and Microsoft employees are not out playing paint ball in the corridors and actually discover the malfunction, they might want to shut down their 'pilot program' quickly.

Lazar acknowledges Microsoft should have given users more information about the issue. [What he really means is Microsoft are pissed as hell someone found out and now they're going to play naive and honest. Ed.]

'We're looking at ways to communicate that in a more forward manner', said Lazar, who did not explain what he meant by 'forward manner'.

Lazar also tried to mollify users by promising that real soon now the program will only check in every fortnight instead of every day.

The stealth tool is installed when Windows users receive Microsoft security updates. It represents the most widespread trojan in the history of the Internet.

Users are supposedly given an option to not install; according to Lazar, 60% decide to accept the stealthware. [Why anyone chooses to install is a mystery - people who know they're using pirated software are not about to bite. Ed.]

The stealthware not only checks the version of Windows: it also sends data home about the computer hardware manufacturer and the language and locale in use.

Details about the version check are supposedly available in a EULA accessible to users, but the EULA does not mention the stealthware 'phone home' facility. [Gee whiz wonder why. Ed.]

The trojan also renews its check for pirated software every three months. This because - shock and horror - Microsoft's own data on what copies are pirated are rather often in error [sic].

The trojan was first discovered by Lauren Weinstein, cofounder of People for Internet Responsibility. Weinstein said he was amazed even Microsoft could be this dumb. He said it was like someone saying 'look we've put something on your computer and it might go screwy so we're going to kind of check in every day'.

Microsoft are currently in negotiations to buy Weinstein's silence services and David Lazar is currently away without pay. He is rumoured to be involved in the new startup Fallguys & Scapegoats LLC.

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