This free utility determines whether your installed version of Windows is an authentic copy from Microsoft or a pirated version. Because its primary purpose is to provide information to Microsoft, some users may not see any real benefit to running this standalone executable.
On installation, Windows Genuine Advantage displays a small box while it runs a check on your system to authenticate your OS. While running this check, it connects to the Internet (but opens no browser window) to share information with Microsoft's corporate systems, verifying that your PC's license data matches stored information. After validation is complete, you're prompted to visit the Microsoft site for counsel on the benefits of running authentic Microsoft software--essentially a marketing ploy.
If the utility determines you have a pirated version of Windows, you'll be prompted to take steps to purchase an authentic version. (We didn't encounter this scenario in our tests, so we can't report exactly what occurs.) Following the initial check, Windows Genuine Advantage will automatically launch and connect to the Internet whenever you boot your PC.
Some users, already confident about the status of their operating system or simply not desiring to share info with Microsoft, may not want to install Windows Genuine Advantage at all. Other users may want Microsoft's stamp of approval and will be pleased with this utility's results.