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22 February 2008, 16:19

Vista update sniffs out illegally activated copies

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Microsoft wants to make life difficult for Windows Vista users who don't want to pay, and guide unwitting users of illegal copies back to the straight and narrow. In Service Pack 1 there are hidden antidotes for two frequently used software tricks that activate Vista without a legally acquired licence key. The OEM BIOS hack tricks Vista into thinking that it is installed on a PC made by one of the big manufacturers that has a mass licence. The "Grace Timer Exploit" is used to expand the Vista trial period indefinitely.

According to a Microsoft announcement, even users that do not install Service Pack 1 right away will enjoy the benefits of anti-piracy software. Starting in the end of February a search program will be activated in Vista via Windows Update that will warn users if it detects something illegal on their system, although SP1 will not deploy any countermeasures.

So far Microsoft's anti-crack campaign gives the impression of being rather half-hearted. A patch that has been making the rounds since mid-2007 can convince Vista, even with SP1, to operate without online activation. Rather than taking active steps to prevent piracy, Redmond seems to be resorting mostly to nagging.


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