Windows Vista SP1 to Disable Activation Exploits

By Peter Galli  |  Print this article Print


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Users with counterfeit or nonvalidated software will no longer only get reduced access to features and functionality.

Microsoft will use the upcoming release of Windows Vista Service Pack 1 to disable the two most widely used exploits of the operating system's activation process, as well as do away with the system that reduces access to features and functionality for those users with counterfeit or nonvalidated software.

The Vista SP1 update will make changes to the underlying code to prevent the two primary types of exploits that pirates currently use to generate counterfeit versions of Windows Vista: the OEM BIOS exploit and the Grace Timer exploit.

The moves come even as Microsoft officials say piracy is on the decline. "We're seeing indications from internal metrics, like WGA validation failures, that the Vista piracy rate is less than half that of [Windows] XP today," Alex Kochis, Microsoft's group product manager for Windows Genuine Advantage, told eWEEK.

The OEM BIOS exploit has two basic variants. The first involves directly editing system files and the BIOS of the motherboard to present information to indicate to the system that the copy of Windows had been installed by an OEM in a factory environment.

Click here to read more about Windows Vista SP1.

The other variant is software-based and tries to do the same thing by intercepting some of the calls to the BIOS and returning a result expected in a factory-based install, Kochis said.

For its part, the Grace Timer exploit resets the 30-day grace time limit between installation and activation. One of these, known as the 2099 hack, pushes that out to the year 2099.

Kochis acknowledged that any user who chooses not to install the SP1 update would not be affected by these changes.

Read the full story on eWEEK.com: Windows Vista SP1 to Disable Activation Exploits

Peter Galli has been a financial/technology reporter for 12 years at leading publications in South Africa, the UK and the US. He has been Investment Editor of South Africa's Business Day Newspaper, the sister publication of the Financial Times of London.

He was also Group Financial Communications Manager for First National Bank, the second largest banking group in South Africa before moving on to become Executive News Editor of Business Report, the largest daily financial newspaper in South Africa, owned by the global Independent Newspapers group.

He was responsible for a national reporting team of 20 based in four bureaus. He also edited and contributed to its weekly technology page, and launched a financial and technology radio service supplying daily news bulletins to the national broadcaster, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, which were then distributed to some 50 radio stations across the country.

He was then transferred to San Francisco as Business Report's U.S. Correspondent to cover Silicon Valley, trade and finance between the US, Europe and emerging markets like South Africa. After serving that role for more than two years, he joined eWeek as a Senior Editor, covering software platforms in August 2000.

He has comprehensively covered Microsoft and its Windows and .Net platforms, as well as the many legal challenges it has faced. He has also focused on Sun Microsystems and its Solaris operating environment, Java and Unix offerings. He covers developments in the open source community, particularly around the Linux kernel and the effects it will have on the enterprise.

He has written extensively about new products for the Linux and Unix platforms, the development of open standards and critically looked at the potential Linux has to offer an alternative operating system and platform to Windows, .Net and Unix-based solutions like Solaris.

His interviews with senior industry executives include Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, Linus Torvalds, the original developer of the Linux operating system, Sun CEO Scot McNealy, and Bill Zeitler, a senior vice president at IBM.

For numerous examples of his writing you can search under his name at the eWEEK Website at www.eweek.com.


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