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Windows 98 > Troubleshooting Windows 98


How to Disable Microsoft's Registration Wizard

By: Arie Slob

There have been many reports about the way that Microsoft tracks your identity when you register Windows 98, and also that a unique "registration" number is added to any and all documents created with Microsoft Word and Excel (version 97 in combination with Windows 98).

Microsoft has made available the following patch and removal tool to allow customers to remove the unique identifier number from existing documents, and prevent the insertion of a unique identifier in any new documents:

  • Microsoft Office 97 Unique Identifier Patch

    This patch, once applied will prevent the insertion of a unique identifier number in all new Office documents.

    More information | Download [89 KB]   Req. OSR2

  • Microsoft Office 97 Unique Identifier Removal Tool

    This is a utility that can be used to remove the unique identifier from previously created Office 97 documents. You can run the utility against one or several documents at a time

    More information | Download [141 KB]

For more details, read our Newsletter of 13 March 1999.

In addition to the first reports, Richard Smith (who discovered the original problem) discovered that the Windows 98 Registration Wizard (RegWiz), which is an ActiveX control, can be used by any Web site to read your HWID (Hardware ID) and MSID (your Microsoft ID, which id used by Microsoft to track your movements on their Web site). Smith has posted a demonstration of the flaw to his company's Web site.

The folks over at Windows Magazine, discovered that a Web site can use Windows 98 (in combination with Internet Explorer 4 & 5) to run the Windows Registration Wizard, and can alter this HWID (Hardware ID) and MSID (Microsoft ID). The hardware ID is created when you first install Windows 98, the Microsoft ID (MSID) is an ID used by Microsoft to track your movement on their Web site (you will find this information in the Cookie called <your login>@microsoft.txt. Look for the string GUID= ). They also found that this information can then be send to Microsoft!


Disable the Registration Wizard

By: Arie Slob

Microsoft has posted an update to the Windows 98 Registry Wizard on the Windows Update Web site.

Microsoft promised to provide such a tool and to modify future releases of its Windows 98 Registration Wizard so it would not send a hardware serial number to a Microsoft server as we reported in our Newsletter of 13 March 1999.

How to download and install:

  1. On the Product Updates page, select the check box next to Registration Wizard Update
  2. Click the Download button at the top of the page
  3. Follow the instructions on your screen

Windows Update downloads and installs Registration Wizard Update, an uninstall is not available for this component.

To disable the Registration Wizard:

  1. Select Start > Run
  2. Type the following command in the Open: box:

    regsvr32.exe -u c:\windows\system\regwizc.dll

This will disable the Registration Wizard control so that it cannot be used. If you later need to re-enable the control, use the command

          regsvr32.exe -c c:\windows\system\regwizc.dll

You can also remove the MSID and HWID values from your system, by using these steps:

  1. Start the Registry Editor
  2. Go to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE \ Software \ Microsoft \ Windows \ CurrentVersion \
  3. Delete the string value HWID
  4. Go to HKEY_CURRENT_USER \ Software \ Microsoft \ Windows \CurrentVersion \
  5. Delete the string value MSID

Save the information (by making a backup of the registry keys, or by writing down the information) so that you can undo your changes in case you encounter any problems.

Once you have disabled the Registration Wizard, you can use this page at Windows Magazine, to test your browser.