Microsoft planning new Windows 7 piracy check

Microsoft said on Thursday that it plans to release a Windows Activation Technologies Update for Windows 7 that will detect 70 known activation exploits.

The update will be distributed on Microsoft's Genuine Windows site on February 16 and will be available from the Microsoft Downloads Center on February 17. Joe Williams, Manager of Microsoft's Genuine Windows team, confirmed the update will also be offered through Windows Update as an ‘Important’ update later this month.

Williams stressed that the update is voluntary and will not jeopardize users privacy. "Although the update contacts Microsoft’s servers to check for new threats...these checks do not include any personally identifiable information" he added.

The update will check for 70 known activation exploits. If any activation exploits are found users will be notified their copy is not genuine and the desktop wallpaper will be switched to a plain black desktop. Periodic reminders and a persistent desktop watermark will also remind users that their copy is not genuine.

Report a problem with article
Previous Story

Microsoft investigating claims of wide spread BSODs due to recent patch [Update]

Next Story

Office 2011 for Mac gets ribbon, sharing and Outlook

201 Comments

Commenting is disabled on this article.

I'm not promoting piracy or anything but I just installed this update on 3 laptops; 2 with bios mods and 1 on Bootcamp using a loader. All still say genuine Microsoft gets a F on this one. Hats off to the programmer of the loader, you should be working on the windows activation team.

I hope the army of non-updated Win7 PCs doesn't get turned to the dark side one day.

Question: Is there a certain level of responsibility by Microsoft to maintain their OS to be free of vulnerabilities, regardless of the license? We have seen what compromised Microsoft products can be turned into with the recent Chinese attack on Google.

Glad to be a user of genuine Linux software!

I have no excuse whatsoever, just that i paid MS tax since the 80's and figure they owe me. Big time. And being somewhat unscrupulous. Comes with age.

I get so sick of people who seem to think its just fine when any company charges you per computer for the software, that you are the one using it on each computer. You know darn well you are wrong about that, morally.

Thats like buying a lawn mower, and the company you buy it from says you can't mow your neighbors lawn with it, and will have to buy another lawn mower if you wish to do that. Its totally BS, and everyone here knows it.

What companies like Microsoft are doing, is stealing out of the pockets of everyone. Just because someone passes a law telling everyone to jump off a bridge, doesn't make the law right.

I alway buy genuine. I think that micrsoft wouldnt need to waste money catching pirates if there operating systems were cheeper for example £180+ for Win7 Ultimate, why not £75 max? If its more afforable then they wont need to issue sh**e like this LOL.

why then don't you just go back to Vista Ultimate if you have a legit copy of it instead of stealing the food out of MS staffs mouths TBH you list the worst possible excuses for pirating

Someone will just find a crack workaround for this update for anybody who unknowingly installed it. Microsoft should really just quietly enforce these updates rather than announce their intentions.

nanascho said,
Microsoft should really just quietly enforce these updates rather than announce their intentions.

So what do you propose? MS should have a "secret" backdoor in their OS they can use to "enforce" patches? If so, they better call their legal department.

ozzy76 said,

So what do you propose? MS should have a "secret" backdoor in their OS they can use to "enforce" patches? If so, they better call their legal department.

Microsoft has a backdoor in Windows, which is used to install files without the knowledge of users. The same backdoor is used to crack any encrypted files on windows with the COFEE application.

Edited by ilev, Feb 15 2010, 6:12pm :

Just want to make sure on this, will this affect our Beta copies? Cause that would be really depressing to have my Win 7 go down because it wasn't "paid" for.

To the azz who said, " I don't pay for anything I can get for free"

so do you steal cars, and squat in a house, steal utilities, and drive off without paying for gas?

By your rationale, these are "free" because it's possible to steal ?

Maybe if your parents didn't feel the same way, you would have a better education.
Too bad though


Oh and to comment on the 16 year old with MS exchange, server08, domains, etc:

why do you think you need all of that business-class stuff?

Whats the point in this if it can be simply unchecked? Surely it should be forced. Otherwise we who actually buy it lose out :(

Benjamin Rubenstein said,
I wonder if this would effect people who used registry tweaks to activate an upgrade-only copy that was installed as a non-upgrade install. Hmm....

on vista all you had to do was do the clean install without entering the key then reboot and do the upgrade entering the upgrade key i had to do it when i swapped my hard drive

Hopefully there are not too many false positives. I have never had any but I am sure there have been a few (but much fewer than are reported, lots of them are pirates spreading false stories).
And for the people who feel they are entitled to free copies, you do not have to upgrade. Why must you? I still have two computers running XP because I do not feel the need to buy the upgrades from them.

Volatile said,
You must not defeat 7Loader Hazar!

Woah woah woah.......one thing is saying "I pirate Windows 7" like some have above another thing is saying a method to pirate it.

The post above should be removed :)

more garbage that needs to be avoided and this is it. if ms would just dump this genuine garbage we all would be better off and all the garbage this garbage brings would be avoided.

What grates my cheese is that i often re-install my rig, change hardware etc, i rarely run my os for more than 2 months... and the product code fails, then its the 5 minute long phone call to reactivate, and now i have to talk to an MS support person to explain WHY i have re-activated so many times....frustrating...! You should be able to activate the OS via your Live account or summin.... THAT would be more convenient too....

Sulphy said,
What grates my cheese is that i often re-install my rig, change hardware etc, i rarely run my os for more than 2 months... and the product code fails, then its the 5 minute long phone call to reactivate, and now i have to talk to an MS support person to explain WHY i have re-activated so many times....frustrating...! You should be able to activate the OS via your Live account or summin.... THAT would be more convenient too....

ive had to do the same thing with my OEM system builder licence of XP pro i was no longer able to activate over the net so had to call a toll free number to speek to some one. inputing all the numbers the automated system asked for allways failed. so i just presed the *# keys until it transfered me. a little fustrateing but no biggy. and the only question they ask is how many systems has this copy beein installed on didnt have to explaine why i had to reinstall.

"Manager of Microsoft's Genuine Windows team, confirmed the update will also be OFFERED through Windows Update as an ‘Important’ update later this month."
So this will be a five second inconvenience to pirates at most, simply un-select the update and continue as usual, until sp1 perhaps.
I sometimes wonder if Microsoft really cares about piracy at all, because it seems there could be allot more they could be doing about it on a more regular basis to make the lives of pirates more difficult.
Or perhaps they are only targeting those who bought illegitimate software without knowing it, this seems quite likely to me.

I think that Microsoft has the power to lock the pirates down if they really like to. Just add a Windows account activation or something with strong protection, similar to some games/websites, and pirated versions will go downhill.

But I doubt Microsoft is ready to do something like that. After all, all pirates are potential future customers, so keeping them happy for now seems like a good idea.

Wow, there's 70 cracks? That's insane. This doesn't affect me, so I don't really care, but it amazes me how many people think piracy is O.K... I wish black desktops on all of them! :P

M_Lyons10 said,
Wow, there's 70 cracks? That's insane. This doesn't affect me, so I don't really care, but it amazes me how many people think piracy is O.K... I wish black desktops on all of them! :P

It is ok.
Long live piracy.

M_Lyons10 said,
Wow, there's 70 cracks? That's insane. This doesn't affect me, so I don't really care, but it amazes me how many people think piracy is O.K... I wish black desktops on all of them! :P

amusingly i have almost always had a plain black background. never saw the need for a picture on my computer desktop that's why i have a real window to look out.

piracy would be almost 0 if they made windows 7 home premium $50... the only kudos i'd give to apple for pricing snow leopard like they did.

Digitalx said,
piracy would be almost 0 if they made windows 7 home premium $50... the only kudos i'd give to apple for pricing snow leopard like they did.

Microsoft don't force you to buy their hardware and prevent you from running Windows on any non-Microsoft PC ! Apple don't really care about the profit from the OS because you pay its price with the Mac you get.
Also, Snow Leopard wasn't really a major version of Mac, it was basically like SP1 or 2 for Leopard.

kInG aLeXo said,

Also, Snow Leopard wasn't really a major version of Mac, it was basically like SP1 or 2 for Leopard.

In all actuality Snow Leopard is service pack 6... get it, Mac OS "10.6".
The major version was the upgrade from 9 to 10, the rest is just subversions.

Whatever, as long as the system is improved to cause less headaches for legitimate users. You'd hope it would drive down the price if users all owned legitimate copies, but as with advertising in games, it won't really make the product cheaper for the end user, juar more annoying.

Then 15 minutes after the release their new anti pirate patch... A new workaround or hack will be release making it null and void. When will there fools realize that most people that pirate would never buy their software in the 1st place? The fools are not just Micro$oft but the entire gaming industry. The key code method is useless. It just ****es off legitimate users, the pirates just patch around it and play.

if i get me a TECHNET account does this mean i can download and install more than 1 copy! i have like 5PCs in my house and no where the funds to buy a copy for each computer!

yes Tech net allows 10 keys for a vast if not all of Microsofts product line, you can get more then 10 keys but iv never had to do that much

lflashl said,
if i get me a TECHNET account does this mean i can download and install more than 1 copy! i have like 5PCs in my house and no where the funds to buy a copy for each computer!

lflashl said,
if i get me a TECHNET account does this mean i can download and install more than 1 copy! i have like 5PCs in my house and no where the funds to buy a copy for each computer!
Yes, but for EVALUATION and testing purposes only. It is not permissible to use it to install production/consumer/daily-use/whatever purposes.

A lot of people here think they can get it and do it and be legal. They are just violating the license terms in a different way so they can feel better about it. ;)

p5bdeluxe said,

No update, what so ever, should be mandatory.

As someone using a legal and legit copy that I purchased myself of Windows 7, I agree 100%.

Can't wait to download this critical update for my perfectly genuine Windows 7 boxed retail copy.

LoveGod said,
Hope this won't affect the WAT remover

"When tampering, disabling, or missing licensing files are discovered, the WAT Update runs a check and repair weekly to ensure that the licensing files are properly repaired."

easy to fix, use a bios mod or wait for the update and simply hide it

Edited by timster, Feb 11 2010, 11:53pm :

LoveGod said,
Hope this won't affect the WAT remover

Most likely. Either switch to the oem exploits (using BIOS SLICs) or (gasp!) buy Windows.

just a quick one. Students or people with ac.uk email addresses are eligible for a free copy of Windows Server 2008 R2 x64 edition

Check out windowsserver2008r2.workstation.com to adjust it to the Win7, disable the server crap and have a norm copy of 7! Runs brilliantly with my student copy of Office 2007

Criminal3000 said,
just a quick one. Students or people with ac.uk email addresses are eligible for a free copy of Windows Server 2008 R2 x64 edition

Check out windowsserver2008r2.workstation.com to adjust it to the Win7, disable the server crap and have a norm copy of 7! Runs brilliantly with my student copy of Office 2007

not too sure about that >_> ...

was only £30 for me as I'm a student... It's hardly a lot of money is it? Glad I have a Legit copy... although as people have already said, hours later there will be new cracks n hacks...

Not a great fan of these checks both in windows and in games. Not because i pirate them, but because a lot of legitimate users have a problem and the systems usually get circumvented within a day anyway.

Microsoft anti-piracy measures and DRM, neither do anything to stop piracy or even slow it down, both cause headaches for legitimate users.

hotdog963al said,
Glad I'm actually using a legit copy for once... **** yeah MSDNAA!

Same here. Being a student in Microsoft's favor is the best.

I have ofen wondered why Microsoft has never done a "call home" setup that some software companies have included in their software. Most of the anti virus software and adobe software has included in their software a type of "call home" where everytime you update...it checks the validity of the software. That's why most of the torrents and illegal download sites don't even bother about posting anti virus software cause when you download it illegally...then do an update...it goes back to an illegal software.

Adobe software are available at most Bittorrent sites. Anti-virus software are available too but in smaller scale but it's not because they phone home, it's because there are perfectly free alternatives out there.

texasghost said,
I have ofen wondered why Microsoft has never done a "call home" setup that some software companies have included in their software. Most of the anti virus software and adobe software has included in their software a type of "call home" where everytime you update...it checks the validity of the software. That's why most of the torrents and illegal download sites don't even bother about posting anti virus software cause when you download it illegally...then do an update...it goes back to an illegal software.

You really don't know what you're talking about, so just stfu.

vaximily said,

You really don't know what you're talking about, so just stfu.

Didn't yo mamma tell you if you don't have something nice to say...don't say anything at all? ha ha.

Nevermind...I guess you are a much cooler geek than I am.

texasghost said,

Didn't yo mamma tell you if you don't have something nice to say...don't say anything at all? ha ha.

Nevermind...I guess you are a much cooler geek than I am.

No he's right...you don't know what you're talking about.

vaximily said,

You really don't know what you're talking about, so just stfu.

even if he doesnt know how will he ever learn if he doesn't speak up and get corrected let him talk correct his errors and show proof that you do know what your talking about then he looks like a fool if he argues instead of you looking like one for mistreating someone with an opinion.

bnajbert said,
And the beat goes on....... Tick Tock Tick Tock

Nothing new here kids, revel in Microsoft's futility.

And the beat goes on....... Tick Tock Tick Tock

Nothing new here kids, revel in the pirate's futility

bob_c_b said,

And the beat goes on....... Tick Tock Tick Tock

Nothing new here kids, revel in the pirate's futility

You might as well just say "You will be assimilated."

Not a problem for me since all my Microsoft products are genuine..

leave those poor pirates alone.. just joking......

James Riske said,
This new WGA scheme will only affect maybe 1 to 2% of all pirated versions of windows 7.
:rolleyes:

99.999% certain this won't affect people using OEM activation on systems with an actual patched BIOS. There is essentially no way for them to tell the difference between a genuine system and one patched using this method. What I can't believe is that there are actually 70 different activation techniques people are using!

roadwarrior said,
99.999% certain this won't affect people using OEM activation on systems with an actual patched BIOS. There is essentially no way for them to tell the difference between a genuine system and one patched using this method. What I can't believe is that there are actually 70 different activation techniques people are using!

Exactly, there is no way to tell with the bios mod, and the virtual bios that is added at boot time is just about as foolproof.
People shouldn't pirate windows 7, pirate vista all you want just leave 7 alone.

roadwarrior said,
99.999% certain this won't affect people using OEM activation on systems with an actual patched BIOS. There is essentially no way for them to tell the difference between a genuine system and one patched using this method. What I can't believe is that there are actually 70 different activation techniques people are using!

The Titanic was unsinkable too...

bdsams said,

The Titanic was unsinkable too...

And run the risk of inadvertently locking out thousands of Dell, Gateway, HP owners if they make a mistake? No, I think they'll leave the OEM BIOS activations alone, if they're smart about this. Then again, this is Microsoft we're talking about here, so who knows...

roadwarrior said,
You really don't know much about how BIOS SLIC mods work then, do you?

I know some things about it and some of the people who modded their BIOS to actually make Win 7 believe they have a SLIC 2.1 on board may be screwed.

In some cases just the new marker and version strings are updated (meaning that the full SLIC table is still 2.0 but Win 7 believes it's 2.1 and so activates).

We'll see what happens when the update is out.

bdsams said,

The Titanic was unsinkable too...

You're missing the point.
They could easily sink the Titanic if they wanted to, but they won't.

SuperKid said,
Those activations surely can't be affected, they are the SAME method as to when you buy a laptop from Dell etc.

Except most of those people have SLIC mods that don't match the actual motherboard. It is possible to reneder these machines as pirated copies without affecting those that do have legitimate OEM activation.

James Riske said,

Exactly, there is no way to tell with the bios mod, and the virtual bios that is added at boot time is just about as foolproof.
People shouldn't pirate windows 7, pirate vista all you want just leave 7 alone.

they could offer me a completely legit copy of vista and i still wouldn't take that crap

roadwarrior said,
99.999% certain this won't affect people using OEM activation on systems with an actual patched BIOS. There is essentially no way for them to tell the difference between a genuine system and one patched using this method. What I can't believe is that there are actually 70 different activation techniques people are using!

Exactly.
If you risked and used the BIOS mod instead of a software loader, I dont think this effects you
If you didnt risk, went the easy route, and just used a software loader, then yes. You are ****ed.

JaylorMcCaffrey said,

they could offer me a completely legit copy of vista and i still wouldn't take that crap

Really now, I've used Vista for a long time, and have had no problems. So many people I know claim that Vista has "issues". I claim they don't know how to use it. The way I've figured it, everyone I know that has complained was so used to XP that when Microsoft came out with a different OS, they threw fits because it wasn't XP. MS has a right to change it, it's a NEW operating system.

Not to bring you down on your own opinions or anything, but please, could you give me a few legitimate problems that you've had?

As for the above statement about Win ME, I completely agree. It seems to me that OS was dropped halfway to completion. Our old desktop is virtually useless now.

If it doesn't affect you in any way then why would you care if they update their operating system?
(For your reference: "spyware" is not the correct term. Windows 7 is an "operating system" not "spyware")

C_Guy said,
If it doesn't affect you in any way then why would you care if they update their operating system?
(For your reference: "spyware" is not the correct term. Windows 7 is an "operating system" not "spyware")

Windows 7 is indeed an operating system however their futile WGA garbage is certainly spyware.

James Riske said,
Windows 7 is indeed an operating system however their futile WGA garbage is certainly spyware.

And Windows 7 (and Vista) don't use WGA. That was Windows XP only and they completely revamped it to "Windows Activation Technologies" in Vista. I believe there was an article about the lawsuit over WGA recently on Neowin.

With that said, I don't particularly mind that they want to protect their software from pirating, but I do think the licensing could be a bit more lax. Refer to my original comment above for further thoughts...

James Riske said,

Windows 7 is indeed an operating system however their futile WGA garbage is certainly spyware.


James Riske said,

Windows 7 is indeed an operating system however their futile WGA garbage is certainly spyware.


Just to add on to the idea that people who legitimately bought Windows 7 are not affected in any way. A few months back when I was running Vista, a "genuine patch" for Office 2007 Enterprise came up on Windows Update. I installed it since the copy is legitimate and didn't think I'd have any problems. Boy was I wrong. Right after I installed and restarted, I get the message that my office copy is not genuine, great. Eventually, I was able to find instructions on how to manually remove it. Of course, after I did that, it came up again on Windows Update but I hid it. After a few days, the patch was completely gone from the list.

When I installed the same copy of Office on my fresh install of Windows 7, that patch never showed up in the list. My point is that clearly made a mistake with identifying my copy as illegitimate and I don't want to go through this process again with future copies of Office or Windows.

fanel89 said,

Just to add on to the idea that people who legitimately bought Windows 7 are not affected in any way. A few months back when I was running Vista, a "genuine patch" for Office 2007 Enterprise came up on Windows Update. I installed it since the copy is legitimate and didn't think I'd have any problems. Boy was I wrong. Right after I installed and restarted, I get the message that my office copy is not genuine, great. Eventually, I was able to find instructions on how to manually remove it. Of course, after I did that, it came up again on Windows Update but I hid it. After a few days, the patch was completely gone from the list.

When I installed the same copy of Office on my fresh install of Windows 7, that patch never showed up in the list. My point is that clearly made a mistake with identifying my copy as illegitimate and I don't want to go through this process again with future copies of Office or Windows.

That is completely off-topic, sounds like a "Patch Issue", did you contact Microsoft Support? And no, Copyright Protection is not Spyware because it's their operating system, that's like the VIN Number on a Vehicle and a Database to confirm its' authenticity. The word "spyware" is being used too loosely, just like republicans use "socialism".

James Riske said,

Windows 7 is indeed an operating system however their futile WGA garbage is certainly spyware.


They have a right. If you've got a problem with it go use Ubuntu or something

Fulcrum said,

That is completely off-topic, sounds like a "Patch Issue", did you contact Microsoft Support?


Never did because I uninstalled the "update" manually soon after installing it and it stopped appearing in Windows Update after like 2 days, so I never bothered.

thealexweb said,
One of my friends installed Windows 7 and I'm sure it's fake, ha he won't be to happy.

You know how this works. MS releases a patch, the pirates release a patch. Everyone else thinks maybe it's time to switch to OS X or Linux.

Edited by toadeater, Feb 11 2010, 8:38pm :

toadeater said,

You know how this works. MS releases a patch, the pirates release a patch. Everyone else thinks maybe it's time to switch to OS X or Linux.

How does that even make sense?

Time to turn off automatic updates.. *cough* haha joking!

As a member of neowin I only use legitimate copies of Microsoft Windows.

humanz. said,
Time to turn off automatic updates.. *cough* haha joking!

As a member of neowin I only use legitimate copies of Microsoft Windows.

That's what they all say ;).

Danny D said,

That's what they all say ;).

And surely some of them tell the truth if not MS would not make as much money ...

humanz. said,
Time to turn off automatic updates.. *cough* haha joking!

As a member of neowin I only use legitimate copies of Microsoft Windows.

Actually *I* purchased a legitimate copy of Windows 7 Ultimate. Got it as a System Builder license. Before anyone says anything *I'm* a registered System Builder with Microsoft.

shinji257 said,

Actually *I* purchased a legitimate copy of Windows 7 Ultimate. Got it as a System Builder license. Before anyone says anything *I'm* a registered System Builder with Microsoft.


Well that's excellent news for you!

I personally got my promotional copy of Windows 7 Ultimate during a Launch conference.

shinji257 said,

Actually *I* purchased a legitimate copy of Windows 7 Ultimate. Got it as a System Builder license. Before anyone says anything *I'm* a registered System Builder with Microsoft.

And that doesn't exactly require jumping through a ton of hoops (I've been one since the days of Windows NT 3.5). All the thinking that becoming a registered System Builder is only for the *big boys* is FUD (or out-and-out shenanigans). If you build a *single* computer (and it can be for yourself) you can register for various System Builder programs (in addition to Microsoft, Intel's Channel Program has a very-low-volume option; yes, I'm in that one as well, and have been for years).

There are all sorts of LEGAL ways to get Professional (or even Ultimate) for cheaper-than-retail (often considerably cheaper), and that doesn't even includes TechNet.

Ambroos said,
Smart move to release it later on when everyone already thinks all their hacks work.

Agreed, the people who have it already won't want to downgrade.