Microsoft has acknowledged the leak of a special product key to Windows 7 Ultimate.
Microsoft's director of Genuine Windows Alex Kochis officially acknowledged the leak of a "special product key" for Windows 7 Ultimate RTM (release to manufacturers) in this blog, saying that the leaked key was meant to activate copies of the new OS pre-installed by a certain OEM partner (Lenovo).
Kochis also said that customers who purchase PCs with Windows 7 from Lenovo shouldn't experience validation issues despite the leak, however Microsoft has moved to prevent PCs from being sold that use the key in question. His blog also indicates that the leaked key will still work, but will be easily identified.
"Windows 7 already includes an improved ability to detect hacks, also known as activation exploits, and alert customers who are using a pirated copy," he said. "There is a hack that is said to enable, when paired with the leaked key, a system to install and use a copy of Windows 7 Ultimate. Both the hack and the key are indications that a copy of Windows may not be genuine. The Windows Activation Technologies included in Windows 7 are designed to handle situations such as this one, and customers using these tools and methods should expect Windows to detect them."
Hochis also added that Microsoft's primary goal is to protect users from becoming unknowing victims, claiming that pirates (or customers who use pirated copies of Windows 7) are at a greater risk of identity theft and malware.