Microsoft will change the user experience of its automatic anti-piracy checks in Windows Vista and also make it harder for hackers to bypass the system in the first service pack for the OS due out early next year. Once Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1) is installed on a PC, that computer will no longer go into limited functionality mode if a user or administrator fails to activate Vista on that system in 30 days, or if the system fails Microsoft's Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) validation, which checks to see if a version of Vista is pirated or counterfeit. In Vista, WGA is called the Software Protection Program feature.
In limited functionality mode, a computer will shut down after 60 minutes and then allow only browser use. Now, instead of going into that mode, a version of Vista that has not been activated in 30 days will start up with a black screen and a dialogue box that gives users the choice of activating Vista now or later, said Alex Kochis, a group product manager at Microsoft.
If users choose to activate now, the screen prompts will lead them through the proper activation system. If users choose to activate later, all the usual functions of Windows will start up, but with a black screen in the background instead of whatever customized background screen a user had set for the system. Then, after 60 minutes of use, a balloon dialogue box will appear on the screen reminding the user to activate Vista. It also will reset the background to black even if a user had replaced the black screen with a customized view.