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Windows XP Learns New Nag Tactic for Pirates

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.

  • k2gremlin
    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.
    Reply
  • martel80
    I use the monoblack desktop all the time so what's the catch? :)
    Reply
  • 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
    Reply
  • eklipz330
    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...
    Reply
  • jhansonxi
    "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.
    Reply
  • 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
    Reply
  • bf2gameplaya
    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.

    Reply
  • DXRick
    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.
    Reply
  • Shadow703793
    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
    Reply
  • godmode
    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
    Reply