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December 4, 2007

Vista cuts piracy by half

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by Janet Harris

Microsoft’s Windows Vista Operating system is half as likely to be pirated as Windows XP, mainly because it is harder to copy.

The reduction in piracy contributed 5 percent to Microsoft’s profits in its latest results.

Vista is harder to counterfeit than XP because businesses no longer have volume licence keys which can be used to activate an unlimited number of machines.

Also, if Vista machines aren’t activated within a specified period with an online tool called Windows Genuine Advantage, they enter a reduced functionality mode and effectively become unusable.

The tool, known as the ‘kill switch’, has been subject to glitches, and many users have claimed that it disables legal copies of Vista.

Microsoft has now issued Service Pack 1, which eliminates this reduced functionality mode and replaces it with a prominent notice which displays at start-up, saying that the system is not properly activated.

A notice is also displayed on the desktop saying that the machine is not genuine and the background will be turned to white. However, users will still be able to use the system.

SP1 also eliminates two vulnerabilities which pirates have been able to use to evade security measures.

One involves imitating the process used by computer manufactures to pre-activate Vista machines, and the other extends the period within which customers should activate their machine.

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