Skip to main content

Microsoft Pushing Patch to Snuff Out Win 7 Pirates

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.

Marcus Yam
Marcus Yam served as Tom's Hardware News Director during 2008-2014. He entered tech media in the late 90s and fondly remembers the days when an overclocked Celeron 300A and Voodoo2 SLI comprised a gaming rig with the ultimate street cred.
  • tat2demon
    Eh, it'll work for a week, then someone will find another crack. The never ending cycle. Sometimes you have to wonder if its worth the trouble of trying to beat the hackers.
    Reply
  • ubernoobie
    I just wish people actually buy windows 7, It's actually worth buying since performance of xp with interface of vista
    Reply
  • cadder
    Is there a reason that a legitimate user would want to decline the update?
    Reply
  • mianmian
    MS: "You are on your computer, steal my Windows. Pay it Now!!!"
    Reply
  • toxxel
    Does this mean people doing a full install with "upgrade version" changing a registry key to activate with no error will now have problems? Or is this only for cracked versions of windows to get around activation and or spoofing it?
    Reply
  • megamanx00
    I'm sure it will hinder pirates and hackers for a few days, but for the rest of us it's another useless resource sucking update. Stop inconveniencing paying users Microsoft.
    Reply
  • number13
    MSFT not making enough money, should have given 7 to everyone that got sucked into buying Vista, like tat2demon says:The never ending cycle, we the consumers get shafted again, look at what DRM has done for us, MSFT sells music and makes a bunch of cash and then shuts down the servers, games that use SecureRom, limited installs and playing issues, notice it is the legit consumer that is burdend with this crap, there is a NOCD patch for games to ease the problems, the never ending story
    Reply
  • Core2uu
    cadderIs there a reason that a legitimate user would want to decline the update?Why would there be? Even if you install it and you have a pirated copy of Windows, it doesn't actually do anything other than make your desktop background blue and tell you that it is non-genuine. You keep full functionality otherwise.
    Reply
  • nforce4max
    The empire strikes back.
    Reply
  • ben850
    i bought XP cause it was revolutionary compaired to ME that i was coming from, and i will soon buy OEM 7 when i build my new gaming pc.

    For now i am on my bought XP Pro cause win7 beta is running out soon :)
    Reply