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Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) is an anti-counterfeit and piracy system developed by Microsoft in order to protect its partners and customers. It uses a combination of engineered software systems, education and enforcement of laws and policies to ensure that the Windows operating systems being distributed to customers are genuine.
Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) is meant to create an improved Windows experience by ensuring that genuine copies of Windows software have access to all the latest updates, security and support that enhance the overall productivity of the user and expand the capabilities of the computer, while ensuring that non-genuine copies do not have access.
When a user visits the Windows Update site or the Microsoft Download Center, the Windows Genuine Advantage Tool, which is an ActiveX control downloaded to the user's computer, activates and performs a validation check on the user's copy of Windows to see if it is genuine. If it is found to be genuine, then the user can continue with the download or update. The ActiveX tool checks the operating system for known methods of counterfeiting and if the copy is found to be genuine, deposits a special license file on the computer so that the validation steps do not have to be repeated the next time the user visits Microsoft sites.