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Microsoft Corp. officials on Thursday said the company is investigating the leak of a piece of code that is capable of generating activation keys for Windows Server 2003.

The tool, known as a key generator, can be used to produce the random alphanumeric keys that are needed to activate the software upon installation.

The arrival of the key generator was noted in a posting by Microsoft enthusiast site earlier in the week. However, the group withdrew the listing for an undisclosed reason.

According to a Neowin principal, who asked to be identified as Creamhackered, the key software appeared to originate from China. It generates keys for both volume license and standard editions of several Microsoft products, including Windows XP Professional, Microsoft Office XP and Windows Server 2003.

“It takes less than a second to generate a key, and you can generate as many as you like,” he said.

A Microsoft spokesman on Thursday said the company has the ability to differentiate between valid and invalid codes when customers contact the company for support or other help.

As a result, he said, officials at Microsoft, based in Redmond, Wash., are not overly worried about the implications of the most recent leak.

“From the Microsoft end, this just isn’t that big a deal,” the spokesman said. “In the piracy game in general, it’s a cat-and-mouse game. Microsoft expects to get these broken.”

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