Although Microsoft has gone to further lengths than ever to ensure that as many Windows 7 users as possible are using genuine copies of the software, there always will be those pirates who find ways around the system and illegally profit from the sale of copyright infringing software.
To combat this, Microsoft will soon be rolling out a new update for Windows Activation Technologies which will detect more than 70 known and potentially dangerous activation exploits.
Microsoft detailed the pending update on the Windows Team Blog, and warns that "Searching for, downloading, or installing activation exploits or counterfeit software on the Internet is risky, because sites that advertise these pirated products often contain malware, viruses, and Trojans, which are found bundled with or directly built into the activation exploit or counterfeit software."
The update will be rolled out next week to users of Windows 7 Home Premium, Professional, Ultimate and Enterprise editions. It will also appear on Windows Update as an Important one at the end of this month.
Microsoft also points out that this update is completely voluntary and users can decline the update when it appears. Of course, if a hack or exploit is found, Windows 7 will alert the user by removing the desktop background and pop up periodic reminders of just how non-genuine it is feeling.
Joe Williams, general manager of Genuine Windows, wrote:
Once installed, the Update protects customers by identifying known activation exploits that may affect their PC experience. If any activation exploits are found, Windows will alert the customer and offer options for resolving the issue – in many cases, with just a few clicks. Machines running genuine Windows 7 software with no activation exploits will see nothing – the update runs quietly in the background protecting your system. If Windows 7 is non-genuine, the notifications built into Windows 7 will inform the customer that Windows is not genuine by displaying informational dialog boxes with options for the customer to either get more information, or acquire genuine Windows. The desktop wallpaper will be switched to a plain desktop (all of the customer’s desktop icons, gadgets, or pinned applications stay in place). Periodic reminders and a persistent desktop watermark act as further alerts to the customer.
It is important to know that the customer will see no reduced functionality in their copy of Windows – a customer’s applications work as expected, and access to personal information is unchanged. The Update will run periodic validations (initially every 90 days). During validation, Windows will download the latest ‘signatures’ that are used to identify new activation exploits – much like an anti-virus service. When tampering, disabling, or missing licensing files are discovered, the WAT Update runs a check and repair weekly to ensure that the licensing files are properly repaired.