Windows Geniune Advantage: Now Even More Advantageous!

By  |  Tuesday, August 26, 2008 at 4:14 pm

I’m in Berlin at the moment, where I arrived today to be a speaker at IFA, Europe’s equivalent of the Consumer Electronics Show. More on that later this week, I’m sure; for now, here’s some stateside news.

WGA for XP Pro Gets an Update
Microsoft’s Alex Kochis has blogged about changes to the Windows XP version of the company’s Windows Genuine Advantage anti-piracy software. The post is in Microsoft-ese, so it’s not completely clear what’s going on. Kochis seems to say that installing new versions of WGA will be easier; that the new verion will only apply to XP Pro and variants (the most-stolen versions of XP); and that if Windows thinks you’re running a pirated copy of the OS, it’ll change your wallpaper to a black screen every hour, and add an “Ask For Windows Genuine Software” logo to your desktop. I’m still deeply suspicious of WGA because of its tendency to think that paid-for copies of Windows are stolen–the Vista version did that to me a few weeks ago–and Microsoft’s patronizing policy of attempting to sell WGA as a favor it’s doing for paying customers. I think I’ve said this before, but if it simply changed the name to something like “Microsoft Anti-Theft Technology” it would be a large step in the right direction.

Mapquest? Mapquest?
Mapquest was once so dominant an online mapping service that its name became a verb, as in “I’ll Mapquest it.” Then Google Maps and other slick new mapping services came along, at the same time that Mapquest…well, at the same time that Mapquest hardly changed at all. This week, the service is rolling out a beta with new features, including a map on the home page (!), easier access to addresses you’ve already entered (!!), and a new logo that’s basically the old logo with a Web 2.0 reflection effect (!!!). At best, the changes bring Mapquest into this century. How about a version that does to Google Maps what Google Maps did to Mapquest?
Read more at: Webware

Google Gets Suggestive
The world’s biggest search engine is finally making Google Suggest, a longtime feature of its Google Labs incubator, into an official tool on the Google search home page. (The Google blog says it’ll appear to users gradually over the next week; I’m not seeing it yet, but I’m in Germany at the moment, so I feel lucky when I can understand my search results at all.) Google Suggest simply displays some suggestions of what you might be searching for as you enter keywords into the Google search box; Yahoo,, and other sites have offered something similar for awhile now, so it’s more an instance of Google playing catchup than breaking new ground. You gotta wonder whether Google’s pervasiveness makes it move more slowly than smaller competitors in instances like this: It must be a big deal to make any change to the way the Google home page works, even if it’s a useful one.
Read more at: CRN

Psystar Strikes Back
Back in April, a tiny company called Psystar announced plans to begin selling PCs that could run Apple’s OS X–the first Mac clones since Steve Jobs’ return to Apple. In July, to nobody’s surprise, Apple sued Psystar. Now Psystar is suing Apple, saying that the company’a policy of bundling its hardware and operating system violates the Sherman and Clayton anti-trust acts. I find it hard to believe that Psystar will conquer Apple in any way that will result in Mac cloning becoming legit, although it’s an interesting scenario to contemplate.
Read more at: Venturebeat

Browsing InPrivate
Microsoft has confirmed recent rumors by announcing that Internet Explorer 8 will add a feature called InPrivate, which lets you quickly switch into a mode in none of the evidence of where you’ve searched or what you’ve done is preserved. Bloggers who reported on this jokingly called it a “porn mode” meant to help IE users conceal sleazy surfing from spouses. (Try saying that six times fast!) Weirdly, Microsoft’s IE Blog more or less addresses this directly, saying that “many users are concerned about so-called ‘over-the-shoulder privacy’, or the ability to control what their spouses, friends, kids, and co-workers might see.” Maybe Microsoft hopes to slow down Firefox’s market share inroads by appealing to married types who have something to hide? Tricky! I’m still looking forward to trying out the IE 8 beta 2 when it arrives–soon, according to Microsoft.
Read more at: All About Microsoft

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  1. Dave Barnes Says:

    Here is MapQuest’s problem: nobody goes there anymore.

    I kept using MapQuest as Google Maps became more popular, but eventually, I just went with the flow. Google maps are everywhere. You can’t run, you can’t hide.

    MapQuest is toast.