I’m not sure how valid this is, so consider this “a better safe than sorry” heads up. Word is starting to bounce around the Internet, spread from the Microsoft.com forums that Microsoft’s Windows Genuine Advantage servers may have failed. The WGA servers are where your computer phones home in order to validate that you have a legitimate copy of Windows. What is being reported is that those who may have shut down or rebooted their computers may be find themselves being forced to run Vista in reduced functionality mode. This is affecting both Vista and XP supposedly.
The scary part, if true, is that a message posted here, supposedly for Microsoft Tech Support, says they servers may not be up for a few days.
Again, I’m posting this as a cautionary heads up and will update the post as I see more. In the meantime it might be prudent to not shut down or reboot until more info on this becomes clear.
UPDATE: Ars Technica is reporting much more on this.
UPDATE 2: Apparently there is now a temporary fix available if you’ve been caught up in this.
“Customers who received an incorrect validation response can fix their system by revalidating on our site (http://www.microsoft.com/genuine). We encourage anyone who received a validation failure since Friday evening to do this now. After successfully revalidating any affected system should be rebooted to ensure the genuine-only features are restored.”