Microsoft to Lock Pirates Out of Vista

Microsoft said Wednesday that it plans to clamp down hard on piraters of its next-generation operating systems, crippling both Windows Vista and Windows Server "Longhorn" if users fail to activate their copies within 30 days.

While the restriction of operating system features has been around since the advent of Windows XP in 2001, the new program takes that process a step further. It would also make widely distributed volume-license product keys -- traditionally supplied to corporations -- harder to use.

Called the Software Protection Program, the initiative is made up of several parts. The first move is to make certain features unavailable unless the user has confirmed their copy of Windows as genuine. Only licensed copies would have access to Aero -- Vista's new user interface -- and ReadyBoost, which uses a flash drive to temporarily add more memory to a computer system.

Additionally, the functionality of Windows Defender would be crippled, and optional downloads from Windows Update would be unavailable to the unlicensed user. Microsoft would also place a watermark on the desktop at all times that reads "This copy of Windows is not genuine."

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