Starting this week, we will begin deployment of the latest version of WGA Notifications for Windows XP.  In addition to the usual updates to validation that improve WGA's ability to detect the latest stolen or fake product keys and other attempts to circumvent product activation, this release will also include a couple of other significant updates.

Simplifying the installation and making it easy to stay up-to-date

In this release we're making it easier to install and stay up to date with the latest release of WGA Notifications. We've changed the installation experience and are again using the Windows Update install prompt we have used previously. There are a couple of reasons we're doing this now. One is that in recent research, customers (particularly the ones using genuine software - or at least that think they are) have told us that they would prefer the simplest, shortest way of installing. Our research has clearly shown that customers value the ability of Windows to alert them when they may have software that is not genuine, but they also want the ability to stay up to date with the least effort required on their part. The other reason is that hundreds of millions of installs of WGA Notifications have already taken place, and most customers are already aware of what the program is and just want the fastest and most seamless way to install and stay up-to-date. For this reason, in this release we've also added the ability for future updates to WGA Notifications to have both the validation logic, as well as new forms of notifications, installed without additional steps. This will only be the case for those who install this latest version or future versions of WGA Notifications.

Another thing we're doing with this release is focusing on the product edition that is most often stolen. This will reduce the number of customers that will be offered the package. This release will be offered to the most pirated edition of Windows XP and therefore to users with the highest likelihood of having a non-genuine copy, those using Windows XP Pro.  We're also offering it to those using editions based on Pro code such as Tablet and Windows Media Center, but plan to narrow the offering to Pro in future releases. 

Increasing the effectiveness of notifications and aligning experiences across Windows XP and Windows Vista

With this update to WGA Notifications in Windows XP, we've implemented a couple of related features that draw on the notifications experience we designed for Windows Vista SP1. After installing this version of WGA Notifications on a copy of Windows XP that fails the validation, most users will discover on their next logon that their desktop has changed to a plain black background from whatever was there previously (see below).

Plain Black Background

The desktop background can be reset to anything else in the usual ways, but every 60 minutes it will change back to the plain black background. This will continue to happen until that copy of Windows is genuine.

Also, the user will see the addition of what we call the "persistent desktop notification." This notification is similar to a watermark but works a bit differently. The image (see below) appears over the system tray and is non-interactive in the sense that you can't click on it or do anything to it.

Persistent Desktop Notification

The notification is, however, translucent and also can be clicked through and objects underneath it can be interacted with. In the screenshot here you can see (below) that the Recycle Bin appears underneath our logo. In this case, the Recycle Bin can be selected and moved about or right-clicked. The notification appears above any object on the desktop, but underneath open windows or applications. One of the reasons we've implemented the plain black background is to emphasize this new persistent desktop notification. As with the plain black background, the notification will continue to appear until that copy of Windows is genuine.

Persistent Desktop Notification - Translucent

As with previous releases, if a copy of Windows fails validation, notifications will appear above the system tray regularly - and we will continue to have the pre-logon message, the logon interrupt message and the messages that appear from the system tray.  We've updated the information on our site to reflect these changes. The updated content can be found here.

I'm excited about how this release balances our goals of providing a great experience to those who have genuine Windows and at the same time creating a compelling experience for those who have non-genuine copies to get genuine Windows. As usual I welcome your feedback about this latest release and the program overall. Thanks for reading!