Dealing with Windows Genuine Advantage: Validation

I’ve been getting a steady stream of questions about Microsoft’s “Genuine Advantage” policy and the download validation that's currently required for many updates and downloads from the Microsoft Web site. I’m not going to get involved in the argument about Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA), and if you want to learn more about Microsoft's concerns about software piracy, see its Web site: http://www.microsoft.com/genuine/about.mspx?displaylang=en . Rather, I'd like to address how to make validation go smoothly.

Both the Windows OS and the Microsoft Office application suite currently require, or will soon, verification of the legality of your copy of the OS or suite before updates and patches can be applied. If you would like to “pre-validate” your copy of Windows or Office, you can run the Windows and Office Validation Assistants, which can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/resources/howtotell/en/default.mspx

Each Assistant will install its own ActiveX control, which it uses to verify the validity of your installed software. Microsoft would like you to take some additional steps to further assure the validity of your copy of the software, but passing the validation test is the most important step for the end user.

If you're having problems getting the validation to run due to security settings or the configuration of Microsoft Internet Explorer (IE) (the validation must be run from IE, not your favorite alternative browser), you can go to http://www.microsoft.com/genuine/diag. There, you can run the diagnostic tool, which will walk you through the steps necessary to correct any configuration problems it might find.

"Your Mailbox is Full": Another spam episode

On a different topic, I’ve often written about my ongoing battle with spam, but I hadn’t run into any major problems until recently. Last Monday morning, I received a couple of messages on one of my backup email accounts telling me that my primary email account was bouncing messages with a “mailbox is full” message. A check of that account showed an empty Inbox, but the last mail I had received on the account was from the previous Friday evening.

The culprit turned out to be my primary spam filter. I had taken a brief vacation the previous Thursday and Friday, and while I was gone I received enough spam to completely fill the 50MB mailbox quota on my ISP’s server. After the mailbox filled up, I couldn’t even delete the spam, which was why my automated routines hadn’t cleared the backlog. I had to ask my ISP to increase the quota so that I could delete the accumulated messages. Given the thousands of spam messages my client-side spam filters deal with monthly, I was somewhat surprised at how much garbage my ISP was trapping. It reminded me, however, of how important my antispam measures are.