Vista update firmly targets software piracy

4 Dec 2007

Microsoft’s soon-to-be-released service pack for operating system Windows Vista will include updates that will scupper plans for certain counterfeit Windows Vista activation processes, the company said today.

As part of the Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) programme, the service pack, SP1, will also have built-in analysis of customer and partner feedback, which will help detect and differentiate counterfeit systems from genuine ones.

Irish tech firm Spanish Point Technologies, which is a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner, said: “We are firm supporters of Microsoft’s efforts in promoting genuine software through WGA.

“Firstly, WGA makes it more difficult for piracy gangs; these are often major operations run by organised criminals. It was estimated the Chinese criminals had pirated as much as €2bn of software.

“Secondly, WGA ensures users have access to important updates that protect their computers from viruses and malware,” commented Donal Cullen, CEO, Spanish Point Technologies.

Mike Sievert, corporate vice-president, Windows Product Marketing Research, says that software piracy remains rampant — with estimates from the Business Software Alliance (BSA) putting it at around 35pc of software in use globally, which reaches around 80pc in some countries.

Sievert notes, however, that this is in decline: “This past quarter, we reported that about 5pc of Windows desktop OEM revenue growth was attributable to piracy declines.

“In the last year alone, we have pursued legal action against more than 1,000 dealers of counterfeit Microsoft products and taken down more than 50,000 illegal and improper online software auctions.”

One of the most common hacks is called the Grace Timer exploit, explains Sievert. Grace time is the short period between installation and registration, which software pirates change in some cases to a far-off year (such as 2099) after altering key system components.

The new update in SP1 will make this process much more difficult.

By Marie Boran