"Forget the "blue screen of death," users running bootleg copies of Windows Vista are soon to get screens to total darkness."
"Never one to take piracy lying down, Microsoft apparently sent an e-mail to a large Windows Vista distributor telling them point blank what will happen to bootleg Vista installations. Titled "Pirated Vista -- A darkness descends!," the e-mail says that it has up to now had a hidden nuclear device of sorts that will detonate in "nongenuine versions" around the world.
"Good afternoon, as of this week, Microsoft has activated a function in Vista called 'Reduced Functionality.' This is a specific function in Vista that effectively disables nongenuine copies of Windows. Therefore anyone who has a pirated copy of Vista will experience:
A black screen after one hour of browsing.
No start menu or task bar.
Please communicate this antipiracy initiative from Microsoft to your resellers -- note this function has only just been activated in Vista worldwide and therefore any issues with nongenuine versions will start to arise from now onward." It's been well publicized how Microsoft spent some $6 billion USD to make Windows Vista, even going so far as to consult the NSA on security considerations, but to purposefully embed a nuclear option smacks of heavy handedness, especially when many are already hesitant to upgrade as it is.
The e-mail apparently also also includes some details of a pending anti-piracy initiative it refers to as "Don't let this happen to your customers." It warns that users of pirated copies will lose access to key features, have limited access to updates, and thus risk attack from viruses, malware and spyware.
"If Windows Vista is not activated with a genuine product key, your customers will experience reduced functionality," according to the ad. "The blocking of nongenuine product keys is an ongoing process, not a one-time event. To help protect honest partners and fight piracy, Microsoft will continue to block product keys that are determined to be pirated, stolen or otherwise deemed nongenuine."
The ad concludes with "Don't risk it!" and "make sure your customers always get genuine Windows Vista preinstalled." So from this it seems confusing as to whether "reduced functionality" or a "black screen of death" is in store for pirated Vista users, but one thing is for sure and that's that as usual Microsoft has some sneaky tricks up its sleeves. Plus, considering that pirated copies of XP was such an issue for so many years you can be certain that it went to great lengths this time around to fight back.
Either way, it's just one more reason why I'm sticking with XP for the time being.
According to a story update on ComputerWorld, an e-mail warning of increased anti-piracy protections, i.e. a new initiative in which users of pirated versions of Windows Vista encounter a so-called "black screen of death," has turned out to be false.
The e-mail said of course, that the "black screen of death" would remove the start menu, task bar, desktop, and then limit users to only one hour of internet browsing before the screen turned a nice shade of black.
A spokesperson for Microsoft apparently told ComputerWorld that the e-mail was "inaccurate" and that it had not deployed the "...update that includes reduced functionality mode in non-validated copies of Windows Vista this week."
Everything sounds like it's back to normal, right? Wrong. For Microsoft did say that "...the anti-piracy measure is still on its way in the form of a Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) update."
Figures. "An announcement regarding the timing of this update will be made when appropriate," the spokesperson said.
What's also interesting is that Microsoft's own video on Genuine Windows Vista anti-piracy protection clearly states that it can "identify and block keys at any time." Copies then deemed "pirated" will then receive a 30-day countdown timer which. when expired, Vista will enter a "reduced functionality mode" that includes: black desktop background, no start menu or task bar, use of teh default internet browser(IE yuck) for 1hr intervals.
So when it comes down to it, they Microsoft has the ability to unleash the "black screen of death" en masse as part of a future software update, but seems to be waiting before it releases the proverbial hounds, as Mr Burns would say."