Thursday, 23 September 2004
If you are running a pirated or otherwise improperly-acquired copy of Windows and you think you'll be able to download updates and add-on's, you may find yourself out of luck in the future.
Security Pipeline reports that Microsoft has quietly debuted a mechanism that can block pirated copies of Windows from downloading fixes, patches, and software.
According to Microsoft, 23 percent of Windows computers in the United States are running bogus versions of Windows. The new program installs an Active-X control (users can opt out, at least at this point) that examines a system accessing certain files on Microsoft's Download Center to see if the copy of Windows that is installed on the machine is legitimate. At this time a number of Windows Media files are flagged for the check, along with several others. Files that will prompt the user to validate his or her copy of Windows are marked in the file listings with a small gold arrow on a blue circle background (see above).
I was interested to find that my computer, the very one from which I am writing this weblog entry, a computer provided to me by my workplace and which I know for a fact runs a legitimate copy of Windows XP Tablet PC Edition, was initially denied access to the Windows Media Player 10 download because the test did not immediately verify it as a legitimate OS installation. Wow, I thought - that's just great.
However, once I correctly entered the product code from the friendly license sticker (the one with the teeny tiny print so small I almost could not read it) into the web interface provided for computers that could not be automagically verified, I was passed straight through to the download page. So in the end, it worked just fine:

No doubt Microsoft is legitimately interested in making sure its updates are getting into the hands of those who have purchased the products the company produces, while at the same time providing software thieves with a reason and incentive to pay for the operating system they use. It should not come as a surprise that Microsoft is doing this now, nor that they will likely expand this capability in the future. Ultimately, it takes people spending money on software to allow a company, regardless of how big that company may be, to continue to build new and better software products. No matter what your philisophical position with regard to Microsoft, the one core rule of business always applies: If you're not making money, you shouldn't be in business.

Add/Read: Comments [2]
IT Security | Tech
Friday, 24 September 2004 06:34:25 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
I run several pirated versions (about 20 installs here and there) and the two that I've tried have had no trouble with the test.
Saturday, 25 September 2004 08:15:15 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Interesting - I am sure the test will allow them to evaulate the effectiveness of the system from the standpoint of whether it flags x percentage of download attempts -- but one has to wonder, how can they test to see how accurate it really is?
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