Microsoft, Vista, and Staying Ahead of Piracy

Dennis Faas's picture

Microsoft created quite a stir earlier this year when they launched the Windows Genuine Advantage, a program designed to root out the piracy of the company's software.

It wasn't so much a "launching" as a sneaky installation, however, as Microsoft offered the snitch-like WGA without really telling users exactly what it was they were downloading.

The fallout of such questionable business practice landed MS in hot water for some time, and it's only now emerging from that stigma with the highly anticipated launch of Vista. But, can Microsoft stay a step ahead of the pirates in this next generation, and maintain industry respect while doing so?

Last week we reported on the crack available for Vista. The Vista crack takes advantage of a loophole in Voice Activation 2.0, a program supported by Microsoft and the new operating system. It's something the company will probably weed out before the home version of Vista hits in late January, although there are deeper problems to worry about, it seems.

For one, it's becoming apparent that pirates are successfully blending test versions of Vista with its final code. These "frankenbuilds," as they're being called, offer yet another way for goons to rip the company off. (Source:

But, is Microsoft ready?

Many insiders believe they are. The existence of WGA, although bad press, is evidence that the company is actively pursuing piracy fiends, and not simply waiting for problems to occur.

With that said, in order to combat the frankenbuilds, the company may have to change its security key algorithm. Security gurus are suggesting Microsoft switch to something like a 12 or 25 letter keycode for accessing Vista, much like the long-winded passcodes required for advanced WiFi protection. (Source:

Looks like the folks at Microsoft have their work cut out for them.

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