Is your software update genuine?

I know I’m not getting any younger, but even I can remember that I bought my PC new. Unless Mr Dell has been up to something, the copy of Microsoft Windows XP on it couldn’t be any more genuine. So why on earth does Microsoft think I would want to install additional, unnecessary software on it to check?

Just about every day now I’m being pestered with a notification to tell me that there are updates ready for my computer. That’s a mechanism I’m happy to accept for genuine operating system patches. But on checking the nature of the update, I find it’s not an update at all – it’s an additional piece of software to perform a job I don’t need done. Here’s the description:

Size: 1.2 MB

The Windows Genuine Advantage Notification tool notifies you if your copy of Windows is not genuine. If your system is found to be a non-genuine, the tool will help you obtain a licensed copy of Windows.

More information for this update can be found at

I’m not sure why I find this quite so annoying. Some possible reasons:

  • The fact that it’s not a legitimate operating system update
  • That it’s a software change which will take up space, consume resources and – inevitably – may cause problems, but offers no benefit
  • The idea of suggesting to legitimate customers that they might be guilty of software theft
  • The fact that trusting Microsoft customers will be accepting this on the basis that it is a valid update
  • The feeling that there’s probably more to it than the message above is telling me. Somehow I just can’t see people with “non-genuine” copies of Windows XP needing software to tell them that. Or being so clueless that they couldn’t figure out for themselves how to obtain a licensed copy. (What kind of message is that to give your customer?)

I think it’s the last one that’s the clincher. I simply don’t believe that it is what it claims to be. That means I’m going to have to do some digging to find out more, when I really don’t need that hassle.

Like everyone else, I’m being bombarded with adverts for Mac computers these days. The pitch that Windows=boring Mac=creative doesn’t work for me. I’ve preferred the more open approach of Windows to the the more proprietary approach of Apple. But somehow, despite that, I can feel myself being drawn to explore other possibilities. Maybe it’s time to change to Linux? I’ve never really felt the need before, but it might even be quicker, and more fun, than getting to the bottom of this nonsense. And my level of interest in Vista is dropping further with every “updates are ready for this computer” message that arrives.

Published by

David Gilmour

Learning Technologist East Lothian Council