Microsoft Fights Back Against Vista Pirates

Microsoft is fighting back against those attempting to distribute a cracked version of Windows Vista. It has issued an update that detects whether a copy is attempting to bypass the activation system by mixing files from the test and final versions, it said Thursday.

Such a version is currently available on DVD, Microsoft says. When the copy is detected, Microsoft will alert the user, and then give them 30 days to activate the software, or it will be placed in reduced functionality mode.

A Microsoft representative said the update will affect a select number of systems that are running this specific tampered version of the next-generation operating system, nicknamed 'Frankenbuild' by members of Microsoft's Windows Genuine Advantage team.

"Windows Vista will use the new Windows Update client to require only the "frankenbuild" systems to go through a genuine validation check. These systems will fail that check because we have blocked the release candidate keys for systems not authorized to use them," a member of the WGA posted to the team's web log Thursday.

"We hope that this action will help get the message out that pirating Windows Vista will have real consequences and will, in turn, encourage people to check before they buy," the team member continued.

In addition to the WGA check, Microsoft has reiterated that it will stand by its Vista piracy policy first announced in October. A periodic review of product keys would be undertaken, and the company will take any reports of system file tampering seriously.

Those keys found to be distributed will be blocked, causing unauthorized computers using the key to become inactivated. From there, users will have 30 days to reactivate their copies using a legitimate product key.

Additionally, as new workarounds appear, Microsoft will take additional steps as necessary to prevent pirates from using tampered copies of the operating system.

In the end, it may be an uphill battle. Microsoft said it expects the number of issues to increase as the general availability of Vista approaches.

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