Windows Genuine Advantage - read this before turning it off.http://www.microsoft.com/genuine/downloads/FAQ.aspx
" Validation may be required for your copy of Windows prior to obtaining downloads and some updates from Microsoft
(for example, the Microsoft Download Center Web site and Windows Update) reserved for PCs running genuine Windows.
Validation is also required in order for PCs running some Windows XP® editions to use the Windows Update Web site.
All users can access security updates via Automatic Updates.
Currently, online validation is supported for the following versions of Windows:
Windows XP Home Edition, Windows XP Professional Edition (excluding Windows XP Professional x64 Edition),
Windows XP Starter Edition, Windows XP Media Center Edition, all editions of Windows Vista®,
and all editions of Windows 7®.
The process for WGA is designed to be quick and simple.
It does not collect any information that can be used by Microsoft to identify or contact the user.
The validation process includes the following steps:
Upon their first visit to the Microsoft Download Center, Windows Update, or Microsoft Update,
users will receive a message requiring them to validate their Windows.
Users will be prompted to download an ActiveX control which checks the authenticity of their Windows software and,
if successful in validating Windows, stores a special license file on the PC for future verification.
The validation process electronically checks for several known counterfeiting methods.
Users do not have to manually enter information in most cases.
After successful validation, users may continue their download.
WGA Notifications is an anti-piracy tool which performs the WGA validation check
and notifies users if they are not running genuine Windows."
More to the point, see this article re Office:http://support.microsoft.com/kb/949810
It's an optional update.
If you don't install it, you may find that you cannot get later updates for your Office program.
Edited by petewills , 06 March 2010 - 10:10 AM.