Note: this is NOT a "warez" topic but a discussion of alternate non-IE browsers and M$' disregard for users of them.
As I'm sure most of you know, some updates downloaded from Microsoft (as in directly from their site) require a certain "validation" process to ensure that the user is running "genuine Windows." Most often that process occurs automatically when using Internet Explorer as it is a "native" part of the operating system. But since the infamous "browser wars" of the late 1990s (not to mention the now-legendary developments by MSFN's own Nuhi, nLite and vLite), IE is no longer considered as much an integral component for surfing the Internet as it once was. Today we have Firefox and its numerous open-source derivatives (Pale Moon, Waterfox, Lunascape and even browser/media-player hybrid Songbird), Google Chrome, Apple Safari, Opera and numerous others. There are even non-graphical browsers such as Lynx which have been around since before the World Wide Web got into full swing. Windows 7 even allows you to "turn off" IE as a component in the Add/Remove Programs control panel. And Microsoft began allowing an alternative, albeit slightly more cumbersome, validation process for users of non-IE browsers.
Well, all of that seems to have changed, unfortunately. Just yesterday I went to download an update for a freshly re-installed XP on another laptop, from a Windows 7 x64 computer (the XP laptop has a fried network controller and cannot connect to the Internet, but everything else works fine). On my W7 PC I had "turned off" IE in Programs & Features > Add/Remove Windows Components, for the numerous security concerns I still have about IE (and also on principle -- if I had the time to learn Linux I would dump Windows entirely, now that M$ is entirely focused on W8 and there doesn't look like there will be a W7 SP2). Normally I use either Firefox or Opera, or 64-bit FF forks Waterfox and Pale Moon. Tried to download an update requiring validation, and guess what: no go.
I downloaded the Genuine Update program and attempted to open it, but I got an error:
This version of Windows Genuine Advantage validation tool is no longer supported. Please download the newest version and ensure that your system clock is accurate.
Well, I updated my clock, even restarted the Windows Time service and updated the clock again (in the taskbar date/time applet). I also tried running the program in compatibility mode for both XP SP3 and XP SP2. (Neither worked, so I figured W2K was a hopeless shot.) I wasn't aware there was a "newer" version; turns out there isn't, but that M$ apparently no longer supports the "old" WGA program and basically requires IE to download updates requiring validation. Let me issue a disclaimer that my Windows IS genuine; it came with the computer, and I don't have any other OSes on my hard drive other than in VMs. And as it turns out, I'm not the only one having this problem. I Googled the error message and got not one, not two, not even three, or four, but five results at the top of the page:
- Microsoft Community - This version of Windows Genuine Advantage validation tool is no longer supported. Please download the newest version and ensure that your system clock is accurate.
- Microsoft Community - Windows Genuine Advantage tool no longer supported?
- Microsoft Community - VALIDATION TOOL OUT OF DATE
- Microsoft Community - Unsupported version of windows genuine advantage tool
- Microsoft Community - Unable to install update - Windows Genuine Advantage Validation Tool (KB2647753, KB2732487, KB2729094, KB2732500)
I refuse to re-enable IE, but fortunately I have W7 Professional and XP Mode in Virtual PC, which I was then able to use to download the pesky update (the lone WGA-required one, KB939683, on boooggy's WMP site). I just thought I'd give people a head's up as to M$' return to iron-fist tactics to control user choice with regards to security in their OS -- and to alert people of this issue who may have either removed IE in nLite/vLite or "turned it off" via Add/Remove Windows Components. A user in one of those threads posted that he has a European "N" edition that didn't have IE installed by default -- the response of the forum tech was
Go back to the original page using IE as default browser and try again - you should NOT use the Alternative Validation route
I thought the whole point of that EU settlement with M$ was to remove the "dependency" on IE in the "N" editions. Not only must you use IE to download the update, but it has to be set as default.
But the response was basically the same in another thread (not sure about the "N" edition here, but the user appears to have a British -- EN-GB -- version of Windows):
For the umpteenth time in the past four days...
You MUST use IE for validation.
Allow it to become default - you can always switch it back later
"For the umpteenth time in the past four days" -- nice attitude there from the tech. How about the EU admonish M$ for exclusionary monopolistic practices "for the umpteenth time since 1995"? (I wouldn't count on the U.S. doing so since Citizens United established that Billion-Herr Gates is just as much of a "person" as his much-maligned software company.)
I hope I'm not the only one irked by this. As I said above, if I didn't require M$ products for compatibility, and had the time to learn Linux, I would burn all of my M$ discs (as in literally burn them in an incinerator) and switch to Ubuntu. But even though the dirty "W" word is taboo here, I have to say that for those without the "luxury" of switching to other products, this is the kind of user squelching that causes fed-up consumers to resort to the infamous Swedish meatball site. Wouldn't be surprised to see the validation updates on some unmentionable DMCA-prone Voldemort board if M$ continues practices like this.