Vista pirates safe from darkness, for now

Piracy cat and mouse continues

Microsoft has denied it has switched on an anti-piracy measure in Windows Vista that would result in a "black screen of darkness" for unlicensed OEM copies of the operating system but the software giant did not rule out turning it on in the future.

According to a leaked e-mail from a local Microsoft OEM partner, the strict Vista anti-piracy measure, known internally as "Reduced Functionality" would be enabled this week leaving pirated copies without a start menu, task bar, desktop, and only one hour of Internet browsing before the screen turned black.

Responding to the Computerworld report, a Microsoft spokesperson said the information received was inaccurate and Microsoft has not deployed the update that includes reduced functionality mode in non-validated copies of Windows Vista this week.

That said, the spokesperson indicated the anti-piracy measure is still on its way in the form of a Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) update.

"An announcement regarding the timing of this update will be made when appropriate," the spokesperson said.

According to Microsoft, the new "Software Protection Platform" built into Windows Vista detects non-genuine versions and disables "valuable enhanced features".

Nothing new, reduced functionality has been a part of the initial Windows XP product activation process for retail and OEM installations.

"As with Windows XP, after initial installation and the conclusion of the 30-day grace period, product activation will be required for Windows Vista," the spokesperson said. "If a system fails to activate, it will go into a reduced functionality mode."

So software pirates are safe for now until WGA arrives on the Vista scene which will begin the black screen of darkness paradigm.

The spokesperson said every year, Microsoft, its partners, and consumers "lose billions of dollars to software piracy", and the company is committed to helping protect consumers and software resellers from the "fraud and abuse" associated with counterfeit software and other forms of software piracy.

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Rodney Gedda

Computerworld
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