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Microsoft Retires Office Software Validation Program

Office Genuine Advantage is going out to pasture, but it's unclear what will replace the mechanism for proving the legitimacy of the productivity suite running on a computer.
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Microsoft has quietly retired the Office Genuine Advantage program, and has yet to say what will replace the mechanism for validating whether the Office productivity suite running on a customer's computer was purchased from the software maker.

A short notice posted Friday without fanfare on Microsoft's support site says, "The Office Genuine Advantage program has been retired." The note then directs to people to another page to read about the "benefits of genuine Office."

In a statement e-mailed to InformationWeek Tuesday, Microsoft says it has dropped OGA because the program "has served its purpose." The company offered no details on the validation mechanism that would replace OGA. "Given our strong commitment to anti-piracy, we are making several new investments that will allow us to engage with customers and help victims of fraud," the statement says.

Launched in 2006, OGA would initially notify Microsoft whether a copy of Office running on a computer was legitimate before the user could download add-ons from the Office Web site. Microsoft started the program by making it mandatory in a limited number of countries. The services were not extended to the United States until last year.

Microsoft eventually extended the program to require validation before a person could obtain updates from Office Update, the separate service maintained at the Office Web site. Users of Microsoft Update, which combined updates for Windows with those from other company products, including Office, already had to validate to use that service.

Office Genuine Advantage had its glitches over the years. In 2008, Microsoft mistakenly activated OGA to all servers in its Windows Server Update Service system. The result was many identifications of legit copies as fakes, which irritated customers. The snafu lasted for 24 hours before Microsoft pulled the OGA code off its servers.

Microsoft is advising current Office users who believe their copy may be counterfeit to visit its How To Tell site for instructions.

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