Wow — the entire Windows Genuine Advantage system is currently down, meaning that every single copy of Windows XP and Vista that tries to authenticate as legitimate is failing the authentication. For users of Vista, this means that the operating system then assumes that it’s a pirated installation and turns off functionality (like the Aero interface, DirectX, and a few other things) — all because Microsoft’s own server infrastructure died. The MS Forums appear to be down right now, but there are reports that the company has promised a fix by Tuesday (wow — three days!), and that users who managed to post to the WGA forum are rightfully outraged by what’s happening.

I’m a person who generally thinks that there’s too much bashing of Microsoft out there, but I have to say that when the company’s anti-piracy features start disabling functionality on legitimately-purchased copies of Windows Vista, all because of an outage on Microsoft’s own end, then every cent of lost business and increased customer support costs is richly deserved.