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Over 70 Windows 7 Rtm Cracks To Be Tackled By Microsoft This Month

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Hairbautt's Source, figured I'd pass it along..

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Microsoft has apparently done its homework when it comes down to the plethora of cracks designed to illegally activate the latest iteration of its Windows client. The Redmond company identified in excess of 70 illegal activation bypass methods and has been cooking a small surprise for pirates. Come next week, Microsoft will start tackling what it referred to as the known and potentially dangerous activation exploits for Windows 7. This will be done through the Windows Activation Technologies Update for Windows 7, a refresh which is designed to kick up a notch the collection of activation and validation components built into the operating system.

“Activation exploits are sometimes called “hacks”, and attempt to bypass or compromise Windows’ activation technologies. This new update is further evidence of Microsoft’s commitment to keeping customers and partners secure. The update will determine whether Windows 7 installed on a PC is genuine and will better protect customers’ PCs by making sure that the integrity of key licensing components remains intact,” revealed Joe Williams, general manager, Genuine Windows.

It is critical to note that the Windows Activation Technologies Update for Windows 7 will not kill off pirated copies of the platform. However, as long as an edition of Windows Vista’s successor is activated illegally with one of the over 70 cracks that Microsoft has come across, the update will cause the user experience for that particular OS to depreciate to the level of non-genuine Windows. At the same time, users running genuine copies of Windows 7 have nothing to worry about, as the Windows Activation Technologies Update for Windows 7 will have no impact on their systems.

“The Update is designed to run on all editions of Windows 7, although we will distribute first to the Home Premium, Professional, Ultimate and Enterprise editions. It will be available online at www.microsoft.com/genuine beginning February 16 and on the Microsoft Download Center beginning February 17. Later this month, the update will also be offered through Windows Update as an ‘Important’ update,” Williams stated.

Because the refresh will be offered as a standalone download and an Important update, its integration with Windows would have to be voluntary. Users can choose not to install it, and even hide it from the list of updates offered for their Windows 7 machines, never to be bothered by it again. Microsoft will not offer the new update through Windows Server Update Services (WSUS). However, enterprise customers running WSUS will still be able to grab the refresh by importing it into WSUS through the Microsoft Update catalog.

“I’d like to stress that the Update is voluntary, which means that you can choose not to install it when you see it appear on Windows Update. I also want to stress that installing this update will not jeopardize your privacy; although the update contacts Microsoft’s servers to check for new threats as I outline below, the information we receive from PCs during these checks does not include any personally identifiable information or any other information that Microsoft can use to identify or contact you. This update follows the same stringent and secure set of privacy principles and policies as other downloads. The update can also be uninstalled at any time,” Williams added.

The Windows Activation Technologies Update for Windows 7 will make it possible for pirated copies of the OS to alert customers that they are running a version of the platform which has been activated illegally by an activation circumvention method. Microsoft is looking to protect customers that buy Windows 7 thinking that they’re acquiring a genuine copy of Windows and are instead getting counterfeit copies of Windows. Affected customers will be presented with the necessary steps to transform their Windows copies from pirated to genuine.

“If Windows 7 is non-genuine, the notifications built into Windows 7 will inform the customer that Windows is not genuine by displaying informational dialog boxes with options for the customer to either get more information, or acquire genuine Windows. The desktop wallpaper will be switched to a plain desktop (all of the customer’s desktop icons, gadgets, or pinned applications stay in place). Periodic reminders and a persistent desktop watermark act as further alerts to the customer,” Williams explained.

The promise from Microsoft is that even detected pirated copies of Windows 7 will not suffer any sort of reduced functionality. Back with the launch of Windows Vista RTM, Windows Genuine Advantage was capable of severely crippling the user experience by throwing the OS into Reduced Functionality mode and making it virtually unusable.

“The Update will run periodic validations (initially every 90 days). During validation, Windows will download the latest ‘signatures’ that are used to identify new activation exploits – much like an anti-virus service,” Williams noted. “When tampering, disabling, or missing licensing files are discovered, the WAT Update runs a check and repair weekly to ensure that the licensing files are properly repaired.”

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