Windows Genuine Advantage
WGA Notification is the notorious 'spyware', introduced by Microsoft in April 2006. After suffering a PR disaster following the use of Critical Updates to install Notification onto our computers, Microsoft began to back-pedal on Notification, even going so far as to produce a bulletin on how we could remove this 'critical update' from our computers if we were unable to appreciate the benefits it bestowed. Eventually, in February 2007, Microsoft started to release new, slightly more friendly, versions of its Notification tool. At the end of August 2008 Microsoft introduced a nastier version of the Notification tool. This changes the desktop background colour to black and places a larger 'permanent' transparent non-genuine notice immediately above the taskbar. The user can change the theme/background colour, but the tool will reset it to black every hour. After downloading the tool, the user has the option of not installing it, but the best advice is still that you should not download the Notification update from the Microsoft Updates website if you are offered it, but mark the checkbox that you do not want to be reminded of it again. Note that Microsoft will accept your decision to 'hide' the Notification tool only until a new version is released. You will then be offered the new version, so be alert. It should be very easy to spot. All previous versions have been labelled as Windows Genuine Advantage Notification (KB905474). The new EULA gives Microsoft permission to install any extension/addition/update to the tool without further permission from the user. If you have installed the Notification tool, then it is easy to either remove it or disable it. The Notification tool offers no benefits to the user.
WGA Validation has been around for much longer, and Microsoft has been steadily tightening its grip on the downloading and installation of non-critical updates and other software. You must have the Validation tool (ActiveX), preferably the up-to-date version, installed on your computer. If you are prompted to install the latest version of the WGA Validation ActiveX when you visit Microsoft Update or Download Center, always accept it. You cannot use Microsoft Update or download programs such as WMP11 from their Download Center unless you have the Validation tool installed. This is a mandatory condition imposed by Microsoft on XP users, irrespective of the validity status of their Product Key. Once the Validation tool is installed, blind it using muBlinder. Many files are also protected by WGA Validation at installation. This includes version-specific releases of Service Pack 2, as well as some popular applications such as WMP11. If you need Service Pack 2 then read this guide.
What is muBlinder?
In addition, muBlinder can help you install applications that contain WGA protection. This is done using external blinders (plugin patches) stored on our server. You can even create and upload your blinders for others to use!
muBlinder does not need to be installed on your computer. It can even be placed on, and run from, a floppy disk or flash memory stick.
The current version is muBlinder v3.61.
Can muBlinder be used at all Update sites?
Where can I obtain muBlinder?
Do I need additional software to use muBlinder?
you need .NET Framework v2.0 installed. Download it here.
How do I use muBlinder?
When you run muBlinder.exe for the first time you are presented with the EULA. After acceptance of the EULA, the file ICSharpCode.SharpZipLib.dll and a data folder will be placed inside the muBlinder folder. Inside the data folder, three sub-folders will be created.
When you run muBlinder it contacts our server. It opens with the About screen. In the top right corner is a drop-down box so that you may select from the available languages. The Message of the Day allows us to communicate important information to muBlinder users.
If you do not have the WGA ActiveX validation tool installed on your computer, then you should see the message in the image below. You must have this ActiveX, preferably the up-to-date version, installed in order to use muBlinder. Install the ActiveX by visiting Microsoft Update by clicking on the Go To Microsoft Update button, which you will notice is active. Microsoft will insist on installing the WGA Validation tool before allowing you to inspect updates. Alternatively yoy can install the WGA Validation tool by visiting this page and clicking on the Validate Windows button in the left column. Having installed the ActiveX by one of these routes, you can then blind it using muBlinder.
If you have an older version of the validation ActiveX on your computer, you will probably see a message like that shown in the image below, depending on the version you have installed. It may be possible to force a replacement by clicking on the button at the top of the screen that is labelled Enable. Microsoft might not accept this forced replacement, and you will be instructed to download the up-to-date ActiveX when you visit either the Update site or Download Center. Do this and then deal with the new ActiveX as described earlier in this section.
If you do not have WGA Notification installed on your computer, then you should see this under the Notification tab.
How can I configure muBlinder?
By default, muBlinder will check your status for Both Validation and Notification at Windows Startup. muBlinder will run for just a few seconds while it conducts the check, then it will close down. muBlinder does not run in the background. If you make any change(s) to this section, you must click on the Save button to effect the change(s).
By default, muBlinder alerts you with this warning every time you close it.
In the Backup Options section, only click on the Restore button if you want to remove the blinding of the WGA Validation tool and restore it to its original form.
How do I install protected software such as WMP11?
Is it safe to accept programs such as Internet Explorer and WMP11, offered as "updates" by Microsoft?
Using muBlinder, go to Download Center for WMP11. Download and save the file to your hard drive. Do not run the file you downloaded. Use the appropriate blinder to install the program (see next post).