Microsoft Yawns at Activation Crack Claims

Microsoft has responded to claims by German-based TecChannel yesterday that Windows Product Activation could be easily bypassed. The group states this feat is accomplished by simply copying a certain file provided the amount of RAM is identical on each machine. Based upon the report, this would allow for an unlimited number of activations - effectively rendering WPA obsolete. However, Microsoft strongly disagrees with TecChannel's assessment of its IP technology, claiming that activation is still yet to be cracked, and has not reached its peak.

Microsoft product manager Allen Nieman told BetaNews, "Contrary to what is stated,
these steps do not lead to a crack of product activation in Windows XP at all and it is certainly not the "death" of product activation in
Windows XP." He goes on to clarify, "What these steps do is provide a method for someone to contrive their PC, with Windows XP RC1 installed, to appear to be another PC with another PC's activation information. It is important to note that by making these changes, it is possible that Windows XP may operate unexpectedly with the user's real hardware configuration."

When asked to provide a specific example, Nieman cited that modifying a network card's MAC address to match that of another user may result in the inability to access a network. Additionally, the steps documented by the TecChannel whitepaper will not work with XP come October. Nieman has repeatedly stated that, "The inner, technical workings of product activation in Windows XP may change up until the time we do release the final code," and added, "The steps documented in this article for bypassing product activation in Windows XP will not work on final gold code."

Microsoft does concede that product activation will eventually be cracked, comparing the company's fight against software piracy to a "cat and mouse game."

The primary objectives of the software giant's anti-piracy efforts are to clamp down on casual copying, with a secondary goal of preventing illegal cloning and sales. Nieman believes Microsoft will be "successful in that arena," even if activation is cracked. He maintains that WPA is not intended to punish Windows users, telling BetaNews, "We have stated since the beginning that we will error on the side of the honest user to the extent of reducing our effectiveness at curbing piracy of Windows XP."

Microsoft was also quick to point out that piracy has other consequences rather than purely legal risks. Nieman noted that customers who acquire pirated software are ineligible for technical support, product upgrades, and warranty protections.

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