Windows Vista Copy Protection Cracked
from the yeah-we're-shocked-too dept
More than a year after Windows Vista was introduced, hackers have finally developed a clean crack of Windows Vista. There have been a variety of workarounds for Vista’s copy protection before now, but this is the first time someone has figured out a way to install a cracked version that would pass all of Microsoft’s various anti-piracy checks. It seems that certain OEMs found the activation process too burdensome and persuaded Microsoft to provide them with a way to bypass it in order to save their own customers the hassle. Hackers figured out how to activate this special “no activation” mode on cracked copies of Vista. I think this is one of the biggest reasons copy protection schemes fail: they almost always creates serious inconveniences for customers, and irritating customers hurts the bottom line. Companies may talk a tough line about fighting piracy, but when push comes to shove, they’re not willing to cut off their own nose to spite their face by insisting on enforcing a copy protection scheme that would put their product at a disadvantage in the marketplace.
Of course, the obvious question is why companies implement copy protection schemes in the first place if they invariably wind up compromising them. The reason, I think, is that these trade-offs are almost never made explicit to corporate decision makers ahead of time. When the copy protection plan is being pitched to management, its developers only talk about how great it will work. Only later, once it’s actually being implemented, do people start noticing that it will also cause a lot of problems. But by that time, the copy protection system is too far along the development process to be canned, so instead exceptions are added. These exceptions prevent the copy protection system from crippling the product, but they also undermine its effectiveness as an anti-piracy measure. So customers have to deal with annoying restrictions and the product still gets pirated.
Update: Uh oh! As some readers are pointing out, it looks like this story is actually from March 4, 2007. Somebody submitted the story to Slashdot, and I foolishly linked to it without double-checking the date. My apologies for the oversight. In retrospect, I should have been more suspicious, because if Vista really went more than a year without a crack, that would probably have set some kind of record.