Microsoft to beef up anti-piracy checks in Vista SP1

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.

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Vista SP1 RC has already been cracked and so it will be SP1 final release...this is not the way MS should handle this...hummm...maybe lower the price of Vista copy and stop harassing Legit users... x)

The way I read this article is - 'We don't care if you are using a pirated versions of Vista, as long as your not using Linux or OSX!'

I've NEVER had a problem with Vista in this sense, though I do remember once after installing XP Pro for like the 50th time it said that I had re-activated it too many times and I would need to purchase a new licence - ********. I phoned India and they gave me an activation code, and I have been doing this ever since!!

bbfc_uk said,
The way I read this article is - 'We don't care if you are using a pirated versions of Vista, as long as your not using Linux or OSX!'

Thats the way it should be!

They should be more conserned with making sure that people are using Windows and not some other OS. Then worry about craking down on the providers not the users. Eliminate the source, thats the route combating piracy should take not crack down on it so hard that no one wants to deal with the hastle of using the app if something goes wrong.

Basically this is just saying, "Please pirate me now!" I guess everyone stealing Vista is better than nobody buying Vista.

I think the best way to stop someone using a non-genuine Windows is to do a forced shutdown after a set amount of time from bootup.

I am legit, and don't even activate my system anymore. I just use the rearm command. Then after I've used that to it's max, I just reinstall. I do all of this just to avoid having to call india every time I format my computer. And yes, I have OCD and format my machine often.

bangbang023 said,
No.

Yes.

You think all these added checks and balances don't slow the system down at all? You are mistaken.

Beef it up further? Isn't it already on the verge of being too sensitive, with the false positives? I've had first encounter with one of those myself, not to mention all the reports on the web from people in similar situations... This is not exactly how I expected things to turn around at Redmond... I hope they aren't confusing lacking Vista sales *too* much with Vista piracy. I think that's in large due to completely different reasons, with OEM sales being such a big contributor here to the early Vista adoption. Actually, the correlations in adoption rates for XP and Vista vs the amount of piracy during the same time period is interesting:

He said the rate of piracy for Vista to date is half the rate it was for XP during the same stage of its release cycle.

Hmm, I wonder if the adoption rate is half too? Of course, I'm only half joking here, but I think this is an interesting situation for Microsoft to be in, nevertheless. At least in part, it has to be about choosing between piracy and adoption rate. Other things do play a role of course, but I don't think that aspect can be neglected.

Sorry I must be missing something....

I'm reading this article and I see....

If you run an illegal copy of vista, the following will happen:

1) you can't have wallpapers
2) you get nagged a bit

and absolutely nothing else?

again I ask... how is this beefing up security? It seems less annoying that the limited functionality mode which has been removed?

Besides, for most people on Neowin they probably reformat before 30 days is up anyway!

zoonyx said,
Sorry I must be missing something....

I'm reading this article and I see....

If you run an illegal copy of vista, the following will happen:

1) you can't have wallpapers
2) you get nagged a bit

and absolutely nothing else?

again I ask... how is this beefing up security? It seems less annoying that the limited functionality mode which has been removed?

Besides, for most people on Neowin they probably reformat before 30 days is up anyway! :D

Nagging != security. They'll be less annoying, but more users will get caught out with it.

1) you can't have wallpapers
2) you get nagged a bit

and absolutely nothing else?

again I ask... how is this beefing up security?


Read on at page 2. ;)

Change 1:

In addition to these user-experience changes, in SP1 Microsoft also will include code to combat two of the most common hacker workarounds to the WGA system -- OEM Bios and Grace Timer exploits -- and their variants, Kochis said.

Change 2:
Microsoft also is building a feature into SP1 that can find new hacks in counterfeit systems, and send out updates to Windows to stop new exploits before they can be used, Kochis said.

It's the second one that has me a bit concerned... I hope it's not about some sort of heuristic at work there, or it could maybe risk catching "suspicious but legal" things like Daemon Tools, which we use for legal reasons here at work.

I having black wallpaper. This could really benefit me.

Anyway, it will be cracked in a matter of days.

I've got a Dell with Vista OEM version and I've noticed that there is a pirated copy of Dell OEM on the fora. Question is: how can MS tell the difference and let me continue with the legal copy? I think they can't ....

EddieZ said,
I've got a Dell with Vista OEM version and I've noticed that there is a pirated copy of Dell OEM on the fora. Question is: how can MS tell the difference and let me continue with the legal copy? I think they can't ....

Pretty simple, actually. Pirated copy of Dell's Vista uses BIOS emulation to let Vista "know" you're using a Dell machine. Detecting something like this is not that hard.

Andrey said,

Pretty simple, actually. Pirated copy of Dell's Vista uses BIOS emulation to let Vista "know" you're using a Dell machine. Detecting something like this is not that hard.

Unless of course your using an actuall DELL machine in which case you don't need to emulate the Dell bios becuase you have a real one.

beef it up all you want it will only be cracked again , go waste your time MS it doesnt really matter if it can be coded it can be cracked its that simple , i expect to see a vista iso with sp1 cracked within about a week of its release , keep trying guys but you wont ever get it right not when theres people out there cleverer than you lot

So, I guess I'll sit back and see how many legit copies of vista SP1 will fail activation.

At this rate, I'll probably use XP for 5 more years.

I have 3 copys of xp legit... acording to MS.. 2 are not.... YAY... brilliant checking system.... 1 legal copy of vista on a dell.. and acording to ms.. also not legit....HA!

Every time they change it, it becomes news and yet another chance for people to vilify it. Even though they're improving detection criteria, and watering down the disabling of features on pirated versions, people are still going to complain.

That is because it is a total waste of time having this in the first place since it never actually worked. It shouldn't be there at all.

Foub said,
That is because it is a total waste of time having this in the first place since it never actually worked. It shouldn't be there at all.

It may have caused all sorts of problems and been a bane on a lot of users lives, but it DID work and forced a lot of people to go legit.

Kushan said,

It may have caused all sorts of problems and been a bane on a lot of users lives, but it DID work and forced a lot of people to go legit.

Wrong, it forced a lot of people to go to Linux and OS X. OS X is achieving unprecedented increases in marketshare (when MS has has 98%+ for 20 years, that's a big deal).

Consider that there are about 1 billion licenses of Windows in one form or another in the world. Microsoft has lost 2% market share in the past year. That's 20 million people who've had it with MS and switched. Vista has less marketshare than Linux or OS X. It's the beginning of the end for MS.

Kushan said,
It may have caused all sorts of problems and been a bane on a lot of users lives, but it DID work and forced a lot of people to go legit.

Hardly since it really only ever affected legit users to begin with.... Pirates just laugh at this joke.

stgeorge said,
Wrong, it forced a lot of people to go to Linux and OS X. OS X is achieving unprecedented increases in marketshare (when MS has has 98%+ for 20 years, that's a big deal).

Consider that there are about 1 billion licenses of Windows in one form or another in the world. Microsoft has lost 2% market share in the past year. That's 20 million people who've had it with MS and switched. Vista has less marketshare than Linux or OS X. It's the beginning of the end for MS.

I'm one of those who has switched to Linux and I'm quite pleased with its stability and reliability as well.

Hang on - I'm happy with my legal copy of vista... however, if all I'm gonna have to suffer is a nag screen and the lack of desktop backgrounds - I'll sell my copy and pirate it instead.

How is this beefing up security?

Well that would only happen after the grace period of 30 days if you failed to activate your copy, which in real-life scenarios wouldn't happen that often.

zoonyx said,
Hang on - I'm happy with my legal copy of vista... however, if all I'm gonna have to suffer is a nag screen and the lack of desktop backgrounds - I'll sell my copy and pirate it instead.

How is this beefing up security?

RTFA before you bitch about something you don't need to worry about if you are LEGIT

Neobond said,
Well that would only happen after the grace period of 30 days if you failed to activate your copy, which in real-life scenarios wouldn't happen that often.

How about when it constantly deactivates your legal copy just because you updated a driver instead? Then I think it would happen quite a bit.

Ill eat my hat if this ends up annoying anyone other than legit customers. Pirate copies pass WGA already and thats not going to change unless they remove activation against the BIOS or actively detect it. If they do detect it they will be in an arms race they will never win just like the currect XP WGA scheme.

Give it up Microsoft, your only annoying the legit customers.

kouhii00 said,

RTFA before you bitch about something you don't need to worry about if you are LEGIT

Read my reply before you post utter **** of no relevence.

Angry_Badger said,
Pirate copies pass WGA already and thats not going to change unless they remove activation against the BIOS or actively detect it. If they do detect it they will be in an arms race they will never win just like the currect XP WGA scheme.

Microsoft also will include code to combat two of the most common hacker workarounds to the WGA system -- OEM Bios and Grace Timer exploits -- and their variants, Kochis said.

When will people start to read the very articles they are complain about? It just displays ignorance.