I am about to apply updates to a windows xp installation I have not booted in a couple of years. When going to update.microsoft.com, it forced me first to accept an activex installation and now it wants me to install wga:

Windows Update

To use this latest version of Windows Update, you will need to upgrade some of its components. This version provides you with the following enhancements to our service:

<... useless list of "advantages" ...>


Windows Genuine Advantage Validation Tool (KB892130) 1.1 MB , less than 1 minute The Windows Genuine Advantage Validation Tool enables you to verify that your copy of Microsoft Windows is genuine. The tool validates your Windows installation by checking Windows Product Identification and Product Activation status.

Update for Windows XP (KB898461) 477 KB , less than 1 minute This update installs a permanent copy of Package Installer for Windows to enable software updates to have a significantly smaller download size. The Package Installer facilitates the install of software updates for Microsoft Windows operating systems and other Microsoft products. After you install this update, you may have to restart your system.

Total: 1.5 MB , less than 1 minute

I have heard nothing but bad things about wga, and I absolutely do not want it installed on my system (this answer seems to give some options).

Searching for "windows xp" at microsoft's web pages brought up this page which says

Windows XP Service Pack 3 Network Installation Package for IT Professionals and Developers

Brief Description This installation package is intended for IT professionals and developers downloading and > installing on multiple computers on a network. If you're updating just one computer, please visit Windows Update at http://update.microsoft.com . ... File Name: WindowsXP-KB936929-SP3-x86-ENU.exe

I am currently downloading this file. Will installing this bring my installation up to date with security updates? What about later updates whenever a new problem is discovered, how can i update without using wga?


5 Answers 5


AutoPatcher is another way you could probably install updates without needing to use the Windows Update site directly.

  • I just booted windows again (after not having used it since around asking this question I think), and using AutoPatcher worked flawlessly.
    – hlovdal
    Jun 15, 2011 at 0:38

you can download recent bugfixes at softwarepatch.com, without fearing WGA

and here's a tutorial for a DIY Service Pack


Without WGA installed you will have trouble installing any optional updates from Microsoft though there are presumably "ways and means" if you have the time to search for them and the determination to avoid Windows-Genuine-Spyware.

If you can live without optional updates though, you'll be fine. Microsoft would not be daft enough to deny anyone security updates (at least until XP is officially fully deprecated) as the extra abundance of hacked Windows machines causing hassle would be extra embarrassment. You won't be able to use the WindowsUpdate web site - just the local client, and you'll need to be careful with that as WGA creeps in unexpectedly with other updates (make sure you always do a custom download and install of updates).

Caveat: I long since gave up trying to avoid WGA, though I've not stopped resenting the "guilty until proven innocent" attitude it implies. Note also, that you will not be able to avoid it at all if you upgrade to Vista or Windows 7.

  • 1
    I've never really found WGA that intrusive. Yes, you're viewed with suspicion, but considering the levels of piracy for Windows (and for Office even more so), you have to at least partially understand why it's being done. Where I live, Windows is considered free; I'm sure most regular users here have no idea what licencing, EULAs and WGA mean.
    – alex
    Sep 18, 2009 at 6:20
  • I haven't had problems with it, but I didn't like the EULA that came with the update, so I didn't accept it. Nov 19, 2009 at 18:20

I have to disagree with @torgenb's comment. The OP was precisely concerned with "big brother stuff". The reason given was

I have heard nothing but bad things about wga

Since the only thing WGA does is phone home and share machine gossip, then "bad things" are phoning home, and sharing machine gossip. Ipso facto, big brother. On this point, the OP might want to read this thread on the Microsoft forums, since it discusses the two levels (types) of WGA, and how often they "phone home".

While the Multiverse IT post is less to the point than earlier answers, it is relevant. And, he does bring up what might be a valid objection to downloading and manual installations:

a recipe to be hacked or otherwise suffer from malware infestations

Assuming one downloaded only from MS, I can't see how doing it manually would be any more likely than the more usual MS automatic updates to carry any hacks or infestations. However, if one was doing all this manually, one might also take a shortcut and download somebody else's version of the update files. Doing it all yourself would be a lot of work.

Anyway, the OP got good answers on "how-to" do the manual updates and avoid WGA. Given the number of XP updates, though, I have to agree with the opinions that it isn't worth the trouble. Every set of updates would have to be examined in detail. And new updates are still coming.

Hiero2 - running WinXP and Linux mixed environment.

  • Interesting link, although the link itself contains a ']' character too much.
    – hlovdal
    Nov 28, 2009 at 15:27

If you want to avoid most kinds of big brother stuff, then you need to use linux. Apple is vengeful big brother with draconian measures to prevent software from working (look at the iPhone) and Microsoft is just plain big brother. Trying to avoid it is, in my opinion, a HUGE WASTE OF TIME. Fine, don't like it, but wasting the time downloading everything off line and patching manually is a recipe to be hacked or otherwise suffer from malware infestations.

To date, helping others in various forums and from my own personal consulting experience, I have not seen one incident that WGA caused a major problem with. That doesn't mean it can't or hasn't happened, but to me, it's an irrational fear - if you have properly obtained your copy of Windows, then you have nothing to be concerned about. The odds of a problem are probably up there with the odds of dying in a plane crash - yes it could happen, but statistically, your safer than when you drive to the airport.

  • 2
    -1 for not answering the question. I agree that Linux is a useful alternative for those who dislike "big brother stuff", but that's not what this topic is about at all. Sep 18, 2009 at 6:34
  • I answered the question - I explained that trying to avoid WGA is virtually pointless. My point to linux is that it is the one without the "xGA" type of thing. Sep 18, 2009 at 8:51
  • I already am using Linux, and in fact I have been since 1994. That is the main reason the xp partition had not been booted for a couple of years.
    – hlovdal
    Nov 28, 2009 at 15:16

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