Free program from Microsoft stops WGA

Brian livingston By Brian Livingston

False readings from the Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) applet were described in a May 21 Top Story by contributing editor Susan Bradley, who described a way to install Windows XP without ever downloading or running WGA.

If you’ve already installed WGA on XP, however, a program known as Autoruns — which is downloadable from — lets you easily deactivate the applet.

In addition to Susan’s articles on the subject, Dennis O’Reilly’s Known Issues column on May 21 featured comments by readers who’d been seriously affected by erroneous “nongenuine” readings from WGA.

Susan linked to WGA removal instructions provided by Microsoft (see Knowledge Base article 921914), but she reported that the steps work only on early, “pilot” versions of WGA, not later versions.

WS reader Eric Levy suggests a simple way for legitimate Windows users who are suffering from false positives to disable WGA: Autoruns. This is a free program developed by SysInternals, a company started by developers Mark Russinovich and Bryce Cogswell and acquired in 2006 by Microsoft:

  • “In Susan Bradley’s article, ‘Get all security patches without WGA nightmares,’ she mentions having to deal with the WGA tool at boot if Automatic Updates automatically installed it. She states that you either have to let it run or click Cancel every time you boot.

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All Windows Secrets articles posted on 2009-05-28: