Thursday, October 10, 2013

To Whose Advantage Does Windows Genuine Advantage Accrue?

by Dietrich Schmitz

To whose advantage does Windows Genuine Advantage accrue?

Certainly, not yours. Windows users have become accustomed to Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) for some time and may or may not have seen the below message.

On the face of it, one would assume this is normal and part of a campaign to ensure that pirated software is not being used, yes?

Well, yes, that's true. But what else is going on?

Encrypted Channels, Back Doors

The fact is, if you've ever taken the trouble to watch what is happening 'behind the scenes' using TCP/IP sniffing tools like Wireshark, you'd plainly see that Microsoft, in their infinite wisdom are shuttling 'encrypted' data 'to and fro', 'fro and to' your PC, all unbeknownst to you over http encrypted tunnels -- all day long.

If that troubles you as much as it does me, then maybe it's time you considered doing business elsewhere?

Those http encrypted 'channels', if you will, can be for legitimate purposes, but as we have seen with the reckless abandonment of the recent disclosure of the NSA Prism program, they conceivably could be used as 'pre-built' backdoor channels into which the NSA or Microsoft, acting on their behalf, can gather information about your 'activities'. All this can be done with impunity and you've got no way to prove otherwise, because, as mentioned these are encrypted tunnels.

A Leap of Faith

If one takes the 'leap of faith' to trust and use Windows as millions do, then 'all your data belong to us' is a real possibility one must accept as well.

Without 'transparency', one accepts the terms of Microsoft licensing and because it is not Free and Open Source (FOSS), one has no way of checking how the Windows programs are written.

This should be a valid and legitimate concern of any Windows user.

FOSS Begets Transparency

Unlike Windows, Linux is FOSS and in accordance with the GPLv2 licensing is free for the respective user to run and operate, including full unfettered access to the original 'source code'.

That last part there, 'the source code', is what makes Linux truly transparent.

You see, there are 'many eyes', thousands up thousands of caring programmers around the World who collectively work on Developer Teams on various Linux projects coding the software. The virtue of this is that there is little or no possibility of any 'malicious' code being intentionally merged to a given project as the process for vetting source code by project managers, coders, all keeps that from happening.

Proprietary is Subject to Exploitation

On the other hand, one cannot account for what is or isn't being coded with respect to proprietary software such as Microsoft Windows. Only Microsoft internal staff know the intimate details of how their software operates.

That leaves much to be desired in terms of achieving transparency, would you agree? I'd say there is zero transparency with Windows.

Linux is Transparent, the Right Choice

Now that you've been armed with this knowledge, what will you do? Do you still entrust Microsoft to do what is right for you?

Switching to Linux right about now might be on many readers' minds.

Linux is virus-free and for good reasons it is truly the safest operating system on the Planet.

I stake my reputation on it.
Be safe. --Dietrich
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