Ars Technica reports that the Chinese black market is illegally selling Microsoft's new Windows 7 operating system on USB sticks. What's even more insulting is that the USB drives are sold rather cheap, costing $14 (98 Yuan) for the pre-loaded Netac U208 8 GB USB drives. That's a crazy price given the hardware and software combination, and may offer a hidden payload in exchange for the low pricetag.
The report originates from the Chinese website 163, and is backed by a photo of the packaged Netac drive, displaying an authentic-looking front and back. Ars Technica translated the website's report using Google and Bing, revealing that Windows 7 Ultimate is what's packed on the drives. Actually, it's a "10-in-One" version that (probably) supplies the Ultimate OS and various tools, and then links them all into one user interface.
The black market drive's package also hints that it's the Signature Edition of the OS, and even offers a signature by The Man himself: Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. The Signature Edition of Windows 7 was originally distributed to Windows 7 Launch Party hosts months ago. Naturally, this product isn't endorsed by Ballmer. In fact, Microsoft considered a USB package as an option in the past, but eventually dumped the idea. It's assumed that Ballmer's signature is placed on the package to make it seem more authentic; it does look as if the product came right off the Microsoft presses.
Despite the outward appearances, these USB drives could potentially carry malware within the hacked copies of Windows 7. Although insanely cheap, this option is not only illegal, but could provide sensitive personal data to hungry hackers looking for bank accounts and credit cards.
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