Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in

Windows XP Learns New Nag Tactic for Pirates

By , Aaron Heibert - Source: Tom's Hardware | B 27 comments

For those of you that are familiar with anti-piracy measures implemented within the new flagship operating system from Microsoft, you may know that some changes have taken place since its release – most notably with the release of Windows Vista Service Pack 1.

Originally, unless Windows Vista was activated correctly, the operating system would fall back into what was referred to as ‘reduced functionality mode’. When this happened, the only thing the user of the system could do was access the Internet. With this limited functionality the user could purchase a legitimate key online, or complete online activation.

Upon the release of Service Pack 1 things changed slightly. Incorrectly activated copies of Windows Vista would no longer fall back into ‘reduced functionality mode’, instead the system would proceed to nag the user by removing your background wallpaper every 60 minutes. It would also prompt the user with warning boxes by the taskbar claiming that you might be a victim of software piracy.

Let us all welcome this feature to Windows XP Professional with the new Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) update from Microsoft. This update puts into effect the same nagging measures in place with the Vista platform.

After updating to the new Windows Genuine Advantage, users of questionable copies of Windows XP Professional will notice upon logging in that their desktop wallpaper has been removed and replaced with a standard black background. Users can reset their wallpaper using standard methods, but every 60 minutes it will be removed in favor of the black screen.

In addition to the new black screen ‘feature’, users will also experience what Microsoft calls ‘persistent desktop notification’ (PDN). PDN is essentially a feature that watermarks the desktop with a warning box that is non-interactive. Users cannot click on it or remove it in any way.

This update will initially be released for Windows XP Professional as Microsoft claims the Professional edition to be the most widely pirated version of Windows XP. Many months down the road we may see this feature implemented on other versions of Windows XP, such as Home edition and Media Center edition.

It will be interesting to see what comes of this over the next few months. Some of us may remember reading how we could sort of bypass the old protection scheme on the Windows XP platform.

According to the WGA blog, this is a feature that users requested for the Windows XP platform. It is a bit unusual to see that only Windows XP Professional is getting the update and not other editions. Regardless of which platform is currently the most widely pirated, the other versions have their share as well. Maybe Microsoft is feeling the waters to see if this new feature makes an impact on piracy of Windows?

Will this update make a difference to those using ‘questionable’ copies of Corporate Editions of Windows XP Professional with Volume License Keys? Corporate VLKs do not require activation. And there are many known ways to prevent WGA from driving pirates mad. Only time will tell.

Discuss
Ask a Category Expert

Create a new thread in the News comments forum about this subject

Example: Notebook, Android, SSD hard drive

This thread is closed for comments
  • 4 Hide
    k2gremlin , August 29, 2008 9:45 PM
    Im sorry if I missed something here.. or the point of this post. Didn't Microsoft release WGA years ago? Even so, I distincly remember that it took pirates only hours to find ways around it. So if they are releasing something new than I am willing to bet that there will be a workaround within 24 hours.
  • 0 Hide
    martel80 , August 29, 2008 11:05 PM
    I use the monoblack desktop all the time so what's the catch? :) 
  • 3 Hide
    Anonymous , August 29, 2008 11:42 PM
    Then no one will pirate that version until it's cracked. Unless it's hardcoded into DX10 for XP, no one cares. They can't go out update the torrents with the new version. What are they thinking?

    Silly M$, just waste your money
  • Display all 27 comments.
  • 0 Hide
    eklipz330 , August 29, 2008 11:45 PM
    they have plenty money to waste

    and i honestly think this will do nothing... corporate copy FTW

    and ill 'upgrade' to real vista sometime this year, just need to be patient...
  • 0 Hide
    jhansonxi , August 30, 2008 12:49 AM
    "According to the WGA blog, this is a feature that users requested for the Windows XP platform."

    I bet they did. I think that it's great new feature for WGA. Now I can be sure my system is running an up-to-date and genuine Windows XP and not Vista.
  • 2 Hide
    Anonymous , August 30, 2008 1:28 AM
    tbh i don't get why any person would request this.... its so stupid... if you have issues you'd fix it the right way if you don't... why would you ever think about this... so pointless
  • -4 Hide
    bf2gameplaya , August 30, 2008 4:28 AM
    It's not all about MSFT being sinister and overly protective, if you thought about how easy it is for someone to hijack your Windows OS without your knowledge you would demand a way from MSFT to be able to certify your system clean.

    With all the protections in place, plus Windows Defender, System Restore (Steady State as well), Windows Firewall ... and I hesitate to add OneCare for anti-virus, but at least they offer it. the goal is to have various layers and tools in place to assure you that you have no stray drivers, rootkits, trojans, false root-level trsuted certificates or keys, key-loggers, boot-sector viruses or any other malware or hijacks on your system.

    Sure, MSFT wants you to buy their products, if you can afford it and you use it, why wouldn't you? More importantly for the whole PC universe is that XP doesn't turn into a rogue OS and by locking up various versions with WGA is a pain in the ass part of that...at least I know that if my PC does get hijacked by a zero day exploit... there are several tools in place to deal with it.

    Remember, not everyone is as smart and diligent about scoping out their PCs innards as TH readers are, if their machine gets hijacked they will probably never know.

  • 5 Hide
    DXRick , August 30, 2008 5:25 PM
    Do people that use pirated copies of Windows even use Live Update? All they have to do is turn it off to prevent the new WGA from being installed.
  • 0 Hide
    Shadow703793 , August 30, 2008 8:47 PM
    k2gremlinIm sorry if I missed something here.. or the point of this post. Didn't Microsoft release WGA years ago? Even so, I distincly remember that it took pirates only hours to find ways around it. So if they are releasing something new than I am willing to bet that there will be a workaround within 24 hours.

    :lol:  Very true. +1
  • 1 Hide
    godmode , August 30, 2008 8:52 PM
    Quote:
    Do people that use pirated copies of Windows even use Live Update? All they have to do is turn it off to prevent the new WGA from being installed.


    exactly. i use the pirated version of XP on my gaming PC and i sure as hell don't use live update. i can't use the live update even if i wanted to cuz it fails every time probably cuz i do have a pirated copy. silly Microsoft :p 
  • 0 Hide
    ravenware , August 30, 2008 9:30 PM
    That's kind of bs, I had issues with WGA when it was first released. Pretty much acting like an annoying piece of spyware, even though there was nothing wrong with my machine.
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , August 31, 2008 11:26 AM
    Honestly, I dont understand this piracy FTW attitude many people on forums have.
    Especially on a place like toms hardware.
    People berate XP, berate Vista, and thus justify their piracy.
    When they do not berate the OS, they simply scream that windows is too expensive.
    Yet, the same guys use XP, for gaming, work, email and of course porn. And again I hear rants about how proud people are for pirating windows.
    Of course, Being a sucker, I bought my old copy of XP ( at a student discount ) and I also bought Vista ( for no discount ).
    My work computers run practically every flavour of linux available, (managed by a Windows vmware host).
    Whats the point of my rant? Windows is still the easiest and most productive OS out there for home users.
    Easier to game, work and interact with the world. There are freeware alternative out there, which everyone is welcome to use , and yet pirating windows is thought of as a more noble action.
    Why?
    It's a commercial product.
    you dont like it, dont use it.
    You like it? ( therefor use it ) then just pay for it. It's not such a big deal. But dont be so freakin proud of the fact you are pirating software you use daily. It's just retarded (not you guys, those hypotheticals that pirate windows).
  • 1 Hide
    modtech , August 31, 2008 11:46 AM
    Didn't work on me either. Nice try MS :D , better luck next ti... never!
  • 0 Hide
    godmode , August 31, 2008 4:51 PM
    Quote:
    Honestly, I dont understand this piracy FTW attitude many people on forums have.
    Especially on a place like toms hardware.
    People berate XP, berate Vista, and thus justify their piracy.
    When they do not berate the OS, they simply scream that windows is too expensive.
    Yet, the same guys use XP, for gaming, work, email and of course porn. And again I hear rants about how proud people are for pirating windows.
    Of course, Being a sucker, I bought my old copy of XP ( at a student discount ) and I also bought Vista ( for no discount ).
    My work computers run practically every flavour of linux available, (managed by a Windows vmware host).
    Whats the point of my rant? Windows is still the easiest and most productive OS out there for home users.
    Easier to game, work and interact with the world. There are freeware alternative out there, which everyone is welcome to use , and yet pirating windows is thought of as a more noble action.
    Why?
    It's a commercial product.
    you dont like it, dont use it.
    You like it? ( therefor use it ) then just pay for it. It's not such a big deal. But dont be so freakin proud of the fact you are pirating software you use daily. It's just retarded (not you guys, those hypotheticals that pirate windows).


    simple. i really don't have any respect for Microsoft. stupid crap like this new WGA is a perfect example of how stupid they think its customers are.

    another example is the up coming windows 7. I'm pretty sure everyone was asking for a whole new OS built from the ground up that didn't require so much system resources just to run it. instead, they decided to re-make vista with touch screen support? way to listen to your customers MS.

    don't get me wrong, Windows XP is by far the easiest OS to work with but i really don't like the stupid tactics MS do just to make more money.

    what i would really like to see is a customizable OS that starts off completely bare with just the GUI and an internet browser. then we can add/change what ever features we what from there (pre-built OS for the novice users). I highly doubt MS will ever do something like that though.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , August 31, 2008 5:50 PM
    hmm maybe ill just use linux now?
    i stopped buying new copies of windows after vista lmao why should i buy a new license cos i upgraded?
    i say don't pirate windows just use something else, my hackintosh/linux/xb360 is serving me well. not a single crash since i set it up. even the hackintosh =D
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , August 31, 2008 5:51 PM
    and no spyware ;) 
  • -1 Hide
    jj463rd , August 31, 2008 6:20 PM
    Microsoft by their actions is causing many more people to turn to piracy (and hacks) because of the annoying activation issues.So it's a backlash and this WGA crap just as any anti piracy method is proving to become infeasible and counter productive.It's also making many people more aware of Linux.I had no problems with Windows 98 or 2000 (I bought legitimate versions) but I have always hated XP.I use Linux (Ubuntu) more often now.
    Just face it there will always be pirates out there but when a corporation makes major annoyances to its consumers they will go elsewhere and once you lose your customers eventually a corporation will become bankrupt.
  • 1 Hide
    harrycat88 , August 31, 2008 7:30 PM
    Why is micro$oft using an anti-pirate update for a End of Life product.
    That just doesn't make any sense unless Microsoft is trying to push Vista on us.
    If that be the case, then Micro$oft can stuff it up their back side, I'll buy a Mac before I'll install that annoying Vista joke on my computer.
  • 0 Hide
    eriko , August 31, 2008 8:27 PM
    Microsoft are right to continue with it's software protection - we ALL use XP, and few of us pay for it. End Of Life product, or not, THEY OWN IT!

    When we re-install (often, for most of us who like to experiment with our computers), we are using Microsoft's servers / bandwidth / time. And we expect this for free.

    I am ashamed to say that I did not have a legal copy of XP, going back as far as Jan 2001 until I got a Volume License Key, via work, last year...

    I too tried to justify the piracy too myself [*THINKS*... well I paid for W95, W98, W2000, Vista (twice), so I am 'entitled' to use a 'free' version]. I even had the cheek to mail MS for support in 2004 with my copied version.

    But alas, we enjoy fooling ourselves. It helps us sleep better at night.

    So all I'm saying, like someone else said, we all use it, so consider paying for it. And if they work harder to block you - so what!?!? Get over it...

    I don't mean to sound like I work for MS, but come one guys, show some common sense...
  • 0 Hide
    cronic , August 31, 2008 8:41 PM
    i really have no problem with using pirate M$ software. you HAVE to use it so its almost like a tax, except it goes to a big evil corporation. if M$ were losing money because of piracy, fine. but their just trying to get people onto vista. remember just b4 vista came out they released WGA. its a cheap tactic to get people off XP. if M$ cant produce a good enough OS for the masses then they will surly lose their monopoly at some point.

    and i really don't think that M$ should be alienating more users after the whole vista fiasco. M$ will have a very hard time trying to get a good reputation again but i really don't think this is it.
Display more comments