Microsoft Nukes Vista Pirates*


In a talk to analysts yesterday, Microsoft (MSFT) CEO Steve Ballmer said Windows was still the number one operating system in the world — and pirated copies of Windows are number two. “That’s a tough competitor, it’s a great product at a price that’s tough to beat,” Steve said to laughter.

But Microsoft isn’t taking this one lying down — the company will be releasing a new patch via Windows Update that effectively disables computers running some copies of pirated Windows.

Computerworld: After receiving the newest update, copies of Vista Ultimate hacked using SoftMod will pop up a warning that reads, “Windows has found software that circumvents Windows activation and interferes with its normal operation. The presence of such software may indicate that your copy of Windows is counterfeit.”

The pop-up also includes a link to instructions on how to remove the crack. People not using SoftMod will not see the pop-up.

And the pop-ups don’t go away.

Only users of the English language edition of Windows Vista Ultimate will be targeted, in what appears to be the first major push by Microsoft to disable pirated PCs via a software update since March 2008.

It’s good to see that Microsoft, which recently saw its anti-piracy team broken up and subsumed into different groups within the company, hasn’t let the re-org slow down its fight against piracy,

UPDATE: A Microsoft spokesperson sent us the following statement:

Microsoft/Windows will not disable a user’s computer, even if it is running non-genuine Windows Software or contains the SoftMod hack. The update just released will only detect the presence of some activation exploits (SoftMod, OEM BIOS, Grace Timer) and will simply alert the user, if affected, that their machine contains an exploit and will provide more information about that exploit and how to fix it. It will not affect the system’s functionality in any way. You can find more details about this on the Windows Genuine blog.