Microsoft went on the offensive today regarding the recent Vista pirating efforts coming out of China and other countries. The WGA blog posted a brief comment, while the PR department issued a wide-ranging press release.
With the exception of products purchased by customers under volume license agreements, users can be confident that 100 percent of the copies of Windows Vista advertised for purchase or download prior to the January 30, 2007 consumer general availability date are counterfeit, and that any new PC purchased and pre-loaded with Windows Vista prior to general availability is improperly licensed or counterfeit software, and carries a risk of hacks, Trojans or other malware.
As part of its ongoing efforts to protect customers, Microsoft will periodically review product keys that appear to have been leaked or stolen, and will thoroughly investigate reports of system file tampering. Because a system file tamper compromises the integrity of the operating system, and puts the user at risk, reinstallation of the operating system may be required. For product keys that have been determined to be illegally obtained or distributed, Microsoft will block these keys, which will eventually result in the system losing access to product enhancements and having certain features disabled. In some cases, the user will be asked to reactivate with a genuine product key. Failure to reactivate will result in that copy of Windows Vista being placed into a reduced functionally mode, as explained in our October “Software Protection Platform” announcement. It is important to note that even in reduced functionality mode users can always gain access to their personal data.
In the event illegal workarounds or other counterfeit Windows Vista code are posted to the Internet or become available through other means, Microsoft will take appropriate action to protect users from the risks of using counterfeit copies and to protect its intellectual property. Microsoft may take additional steps to stop the spread and use of counterfeit versions of Windows Vista by releasing updates to the software, and then distributing the updates using various mechanisms, such as posting them on Microsoft.com and/or through Windows Update.
Counterfeit software packages in Brazil.
This week, Microsoft released such an update, which detects tampering of Windows Vista by mixing files from various test and final versions of the software in order to work around licensing mechanisms. When detected, these unauthorized copies will be given a 30-day grace period, after which they will be placed into a reduced functionality mode. This week’s update will only affect systems that are running a specific binary-tampered version of Windows Vista (emphasis mine).
Come on pirates. You thought Microsoft was going to sit on the sidelines this time?