Piracy & Microsoft Vista.

When, in early 2007 after innumerable postponments,  Microsoft’s long-awated Windows Vista becomes available on the market, it will have many features which protect the operating system from tampering. Microsoft has added this new system a number of unique features that are aimed at deterring pirates and making piracy extremely difficult.

Some of these theft-deterrents include the standard features that came as part and parcel of Windows XP – Windows Genuine Advantage and Windows Product Activation, for instance – but some are brand new.

If, for example, you install Vista and fail to contact Microsoft to get it to verify that the Vista you are running is genuine and have it activated before 30 days have elapsed, you will find that your system is completely locked down.

When the PC is locked, there will be a small number of “modes” you may use in order to restore it back to normal. There will be the “crippled mode” which allows you to web-browse so that you can contact Microsoft to get the activation key. That key of course will only be given to those who have installed verifiably genuine copies of Vista. Added to that, there will be an over-the-phone and on-line purchasing modes which will give you alternative ways of obtaining the activation key you require.

Vista, I’m also told, comes with an inbuilt monitoring system that highlights any tampering you might try doing with the operating system. If, even post-activation, the software is found not to be rendered invalid for whatever reason, certain key features will all be disabled and you will be promptly notified that an issue has arisen with the software’s licensing. I’m not altogether certain how this is going to work on stand-lone computers, but I’d imagine they will have some monitors that come with Vista itself.

Of course all of this, according to Microsoft, is designed to make life difficult for the pirate. The thing is, it’s not just the pirates it makes life difficult for – it makes life difficult for everybody.

If you want to know just how difficult things are likely to get, have a peek at John Naughton’s online diary entry or his Observer column  of the 26th of November, and ask yourself the question he’s been asking for years: why bother with Microsoft?


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