Microsoft Office Genuine Advantage gets the axe

In move that surprised many longtime Microsoft observers, Redmond dropped Office Genuine Advantage late last week

Many users have run afoul of OGA (Office Genuine Advantage), a scheme requiring users to validate their copies of Office prior to downloading and using specific Office add-ons, such as custom templates. OGA has been controversial in part because of bugs that kept appearing in the validation process.

Friday afternoon, about the time the Redmond offices closed for the weekend, a friend dropped me a line pointing to an obscure corner of the Microsoft Support website. The Genuine Advantage Solution Center (doublespeak alert) declared in one, short sentence, "The Office Genuine Advantage program has been retired and the features of the OGA Notifications tool will no longer be active."

There were no other details -- just one sentence.

I've been covering Microsoft Office since long before Microsoft even had an Office, and this caught me completely off guard. I hadn't heard a peep about it beforehand.

Microsoft released a patch for OGA in February (KB 949810). The patch was bedeviled by minor problems. Microsoft patched the patch, repeatedly. If you look at the Knowledge Base article 949810 right now, you will see it was last reviewed on Dec. 17 and now states, "The Office Genuine Advantage ('OGA') program has been retired." The same notification appears at the beginning of KB 917999, KB 918000 through KB 918004, and KB 952632.

The Office online validation tool, which used to be located with the Windows Genuine Advantage tool, hasn't worked with Office 2010 for months. Now it appears to be missing completely.

The official Microsoft Office Genuine Advantage Validation Issues forum had its first post about OGA going away on Monday morning, three days after the notices first appeared. Somebody turned out the lights and didn't bother telling the folks running the forum.

This article, "Microsoft's Office Genuine Advantage gets the axe," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Get the first word on what the important tech news really means with the InfoWorld Tech Watch blog.

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