Off late, hacking the activation process for Microsoft operating systems has become the latest trend in the world of online piracy, and Windows Vista Activation Crack can be seen as its latest example. The last two months have seen a nebulous accumulation of hacks and cracks, tricks and workarounds that are intended to dodge, hinder, pass over, delay or emulate the activation.
Windows Vista, also known as Longhorn, the latest release of Microsoft Windows was released in stages to retail channels, business computers and computer software and hardware manufactures after November 8, 2006. Later on 30th January, 2007 it was released globally to the general public.
As claimed, the primary objective associated with development of Vista has been the improvement of security aspect in Windows operating system. It seems that Microsoft have taken great pains to fix the glitches that used to make it easy for viruses, malware or spyware to wreck the operating systems and create havoc. But have they done enough? If the stories on the Internet are to be believed, Microsoft's efforts seem to have fallen short.
In the first version of the crack, the pirates had come up with a creative workaround. There has been buzz that they were able to hack a copy of Microsoft's volume licensing activation server. Australian technology publication APC was the first to report the existence of the crack. Vista Volume Activation 2.0 made it compulsory that every single copy of Vista has to be activated for better means of safeguards against piracy.
However, to avoid the hassles for administrators, Microsoft provided a more convenient system of Key Management Service (KMS) for activation of Vista. So, Vista clients can activate through KMS by connecting to a single PC running KMS. Moreover this activation will be good only for 180 days.
Yet the pirates have been successful in hacking the KMS and creating MelindaGates, a standalone, local KMS server. So now, one can download VMWare image which is a free, and boot it. With the help of VBS script which comes with the download itself, one can activate the copy by connecting to the local sever, eliminating the need to connect back to Microsoft.
The above said procedure can hack only Business and Enterprise editions as they are the ones which accept the KMS keys. Still, it brings Vista under the clout of vulnerability.
Microsoft has put in place a couple of counter-measures to tackle this problem. The first is that if the pirated copy goes through Microsoft's Windows Genuine Advantage program (MGA), then Microsoft can track and identify it as pirated version and deactivate the key. The second is that Microsoft has ensured the activation period of up to 180 days, making it compulsory to reactivate the copy after that period.
Following the first crack, now there is another product activation crack, which aims at fooling the mechanism of the activation timer. Windows Vista has integrated the countdown timer with the system itself. The latest crack targets it and permanently stops the timer. It has been reported to work successfully on all 32-bit x86 environments, while the success rate on 64 BitX64 environment has till now been quite low.
The second crack also doesn't require the product key as it interferes with the timer mechanism, allowing Windows Vista to run permanently displaying the message: 30 days left for activation. Thus there is no reminder to activate the copy again thus evading the Windows Genuine Advantage validation.
This activation crack is known as "TimerStop 2099 version 2" and is available for download over the Internet. This version has been recently modified to extend the support for 64-bit editions. It also skips or disables the driver signature check enforced by Vista. It is reported that the new version is also capable of stopping kernel timers in spsys.sys.
Stance of Microsoft
Microsoft is referring to the piracy of Windows Vista as being merely "speculative". Cori Hartje, director of the Genuine Software Initiative, Microsoft Corporation has quoted, "Recently it has been reported that Microsoft's Windows Vista operating system has been compromised and a hack was found on the Internet. Although these reports are purely speculative at the moment, we are actively monitoring these types of piracy and counterfeit situations, and will take action on any KMS or MAK keys that have been reported as stolen or abused."
As he stated further," Microsoft will continue to make investments under the Genuine Software Initiative (GSI) and is committed to engineering world-class anti-counterfeiting technologies in order to make piracy harder and protect customers and channel partners from the various risks associated with counterfeit software."
All these reported cracks can become potential sources of Trojan horses, spyware, or any other malicious software. An example of this is the Activation 21.11.06 crack which carries the Trojan-PSW.Win32.LdPinch.aze. So to be safe and on the right side of the law, one must stay clear of piracy, and use only genuine copies of Windows operating systems.