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Microsoft Shutting Down Vista Frankenpirates

Microsoft’s Windows Genuine Advantage blog says that they have already evolved Windows Validation to disable one of the first attempts to pirate Windows Vista. In this case, someone had figured out that replacing some files from the final shipping version of Vista with those from Release Candidate 1, the system activated. However, the blog says that those systems will ultimately fail when checked by the Windows Update client, since they have older, non-valid product keys, and then be shut down, piece by piece, until they are barely usable.

The systems will then be flagged as non-genuine systems and the experience will be what we announced back in October (direct link to doc)- including losing certain functionality (e.g. Aero, ReadyBoost) and the system will have 30 days to activate with a good product key. If they don’t produce a new product key within 30 days, they will then only be able to access their system in what we call reduced functionality mode - a mode which limits their use to one hour with their default web browser. I want to be clear here that even though they can only use their browser for an hour, we will never limit their access to their data. A user can always -boot their PC into what is called Safe Mode. Safe Mode is a mode of using Windows that has limited driver, display and networking support - but allows a user access to all their files.

The fact is, if you are serious about pirating Windows, you do what businesses do, and you don’t “upgrade” until Service Pack 1. Then, you see what crack has lasted for several months and you can trust to work, and use that. Don’t expect to actually get to upgrade to the service pack, but it is a good period to indicate “crack stability”. But seriously, just pay the $159; it’s less than the cost of three video games these days. If Vista is important enough to steal, you can pay for it; if you can’t pay for it, just stick with XP, which is a fine OS.

UPDATE: Joe Wilcox asks if Vista’s antipiracy efforts will push people to Linux, but concludes that as long as Linux doesn’t have the applications corporate IT departments have, it isn’t attractive enough.

December 15th, 2006 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Vista, Windows, Security, General | no comments

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