Over the last weekend, something went wrong with Windows Genuine Advantage, with a major server error causing Windows systems to fail validation and be stuck in reduced functionality mode. When Windows tried to phone home and determine that the computer was running a genuine version of Windows XP or Windows Vista, the check failed because the server was messed up, not the computer, and the computer was switched to reduced functionality, which limits the system to the point where it can’t be used for any serious work.
So, what happened? Pre-production code was sent to the live WGA servers, causing it to be unable to encrypt/decrypt incoming product keys from machines in the activation and validation process. The problem only existed for half an hour, but 12,000 systems were affected. Those machines had to re-activate to get back to full functionality.
It’s a shame when something like this happens, especially since it only furthers the argument that DRM hurts legitimate customers more than fakes. In fact, pirated copies of Windows would have had no interruption of service, while 12,000 real customers lost access to most of their computer due to this error.