MS to Crack Down on Pirated Win7 with Toolkit Release

Dennis Faas's picture

Microsoft is releasing a set of tools aimed at detecting and undoing attempts to bypass Windows 7 anti-piracy checks. It's mostly meant for corporate networks, but the release is also intended as a security warning.

The toolset is an update for Windows Activation Technologies, one of the systems which checks that a copy of Windows 7 is legitimate. The update will search for and eliminate 70 known tactics for attempting to bypass these checks. (Source:

Microsoft Touts Antipiracy Tools

Obviously, anyone who is knowingly using a pirated copy of Windows 7 is not going to install and use these tools. Instead, Microsoft is promoting the toolkit mainly for administrators of company networks who can't be sure if an employee has installed a pirated edition of Windows 7 on their network. The same could also apply to networks in educational establishments.

Microsoft argues that, once these tools are installed, the updates will better protect a copy of Windows 7 from being damaged (either by accident or through malicious software) in a way that harms its licensing credentials.

Piracy Tool Employs 'Nagware'

At present this would be in the form of "nagware": a series of repeated warning messages designed to irritate the user, along with a message on the desktop screen noting the copy of Windows appears to be counterfeit, designed to embarrass users in a corporate setting.

1/3 Of Windows 7 Cracks Deliver Virus Payload

As part of the publicity for the updates, Microsoft cites a study which found that 32% of websites that claimed to offer a tool for bypassing the anti-piracy checks were in fact delivering viruses to the user. (Source:

The firm has gone to great pains to stress that installing the release is entirely voluntary and that doing so will not mean any additional personal data is shared with Microsoft. Ironically, that comes just days after the withdrawal of a long-standing lawsuit accusing Microsoft of misleading users by labeling Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA), the equivalent anti-piracy package in Windows XP, as a security update and not informing them that it would send data to the company.

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