A reader wrote to ask for more details about how I configure my firewall to block Microsoft.com’s call–home attempts:
In your Email Newsletter — Volume 3, Number 12 — September 3, 2007, article "Windows Genuine Advantage SNAFU" you say, "When they want to check in with Microsoft, they run into my copy of Sunbelt Personal Firewall," and "Sunbelt Personal Firewall has shown me that Microsoft’s products often want to connect to Microsoft.com, whether it makes sense or not." You do not give enough details on the matter so one could take action…or not.
1. Is there a problem if they are prevented from calling home?
2. If not, how can I set up my Sunbelt PFW to do that, as you infer you have done.
P.S. I used your links to purchase said product a while back along with Counter Spy and iHateSpam. Thanks in advance for your help.
The good news was that Ed was asking about Sunbelt Personal Firewall, since it will actually apply its controls to Microsoft’s programs. The process with SPF is easy, too.
I wrote back to tell Ed to heck your settings on the Network Security / Applications display in Sunbelt Personal Firewall. If you are showing "Description" (instead of File Name or Full Path), you should see Windows Genuine Advantage and Windows Genuine Advantage Notification.
Just set them to "Ask."
If you don’t see Description (you see File Name or Full Path), just right-click on one of the entries. Then select Displayed Application Name and change it if you like.
If you don’t see them listed, click on Description to sort alphabetically. Then, scroll to the bottom of the list for "Any other application." Make sure Internet Out is set to "Ask."
Generally, I haven’t found any problem in blocking WGA or WGAN — Windows XP just treats the attempt as if I’m offline and don’t have an Internet connection.
However, If I go to Microsoft.com to download something, I’ll have to validate or have recently validated.
Of course, this assumes that you have activated your copy of Windows XP or Vista within the required time limit. If you don’t make that connection, XP your operating system will suffer a significant lockdown, and you’ll have to call Microsoft to activate your operating system.