How to patch without running WGA validation
The following steps will allow you to install all Windows security patches on a new build of XP, without installing or running WGA on the machine:
- Step 1: Install and activate XP. For XP SP2 only (not XP SP3), you must also download and install the patch described in KB article 898461, which updates the installer program and ensures that your system will receive future updates.
- Step 2: In either version of XP, click Start, Control Panel, Security Center, Automatic Updates. Choose Download updates for me, but let me choose when to install them.
- Step 3: Whenever you see a yellow-shield icon in the notification area (previously known as the system tray), click the icon and then choose Custom install.
- Step 4: Scroll to the bottom of the patch window and uncheck Windows Genuine Advantage Notification (KB905474), as shown in Figure 1. (For more info, see Microsoft KB article 905474 to read the company’s description of WGA Notification.)Figure 1. Uncheck KB905474 to prevent WGA from being installed on the system.
Step 5: After you click Install, check Don’t notify me about these updates again in the resulting dialog to prevent WGA from being included in future Windows updates (see Figure 2). Click OK.
Figure 2. Check this option to avoid being offered WGA Notifications as part of future updates.
From this point forward, every time you update your system, review the patches being offered to you and deselect those you don’t want before proceeding with the installation.
Microsoft occasionally updates the WGA Notifications tool, so you can count on its being offered to you again, despite your choice in Step 5 above. The explanation Microsoft officials gave me for this decision is that the company feels it’s wise to reinstall WGA periodically to ensure that customers haven’t been the victim of unscrupulous consultants who use illegal media when reinstalling your operating system.
There’s a flaw in this thinking: the reason many of these consultants use the wrong media is that Microsoft doesn’t make it easy to get replacements for your Windows installation discs. It’s also difficult to get up-to-date installation media unless you’re one of Microsoft’s enterprise-level customers.
Microsoft’s recommendation that you set your machine to update automatically as the best way to protect it is also flawed. These days, our PCs aren’t just simple e-mail and Web terminals. They’re crucial to all our work, and if they’re disabled we can’t make a living. For example, if a Windows update causes our Internet connection to break because of a conflict with a third-party security program — as has happened many times in the recent past — we might be unproductive for hours or days.
Also, if you enable Automatic Updates, you may be as dismayed as I was to learn that Microsoft treats legitimate customers like thieves. The WGA Notifications patch described in KB article 905474 automatically installs if Automatic Updates is empowered to act without permission. In that case, you either have to run the WGA tool the next time you reboot or press Cancel every time you start your system.
If you install WGA Notifications on XP, this dialog box will reappear each time you reboot until you click Next and run the process.