Microsoft just released a new Windows update for people currently using Windows 7. What does the update do that will no doubt garnish so much attention the next couple of weeks? Well, it must have something to do with anti-piracy technology, don’t you think?! When Microsoft first introduced the Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) anti-piracy system, let’s just say that not a lot of people were happy about it. Depending on who you were, WGA either was just another minor Windows update being installed on your computer or something you had to defeat and circumvent. I’m sure you guys know what I’m talking about. One of the main reason for deploying WGA was to minimize (I didn’t say stop) piracy of the Windows operating system. With the update to Windows Activation Technologies to Windows 7, Microsoft once again will try and help you determine if the copy of your operating system is legit or not.
Windows Update KB971033
For users who are using a pirated copy of Windows 7 (whether knowingly or not), you might find a little surprise waiting for you if you went ahead and installed the KB971033 update. From Microsoft’s support website:
Windows Activation Technologies helps you confirm that the copy of Windows 7 that is running on your computer is genuine. Additionally, Windows Activation Technologies helps protect against the risks of counterfeit software. Windows Activation Technologies in Windows 7 consists of activation and validation components that contain anti-piracy features.
* Activation is an anti-piracy technology that verifies the product key for the copy of Windows 7 that is running on your computer. The product key is a 25-character code that is located on the Certificate of Authenticity label or on the proof of license label. These labels are included with each genuine copy of Windows. A genuine product key can only be used on the number of computers that are specified in a software license.
* Validation is an online process that enables you to verify that the copy of Windows 7 that is running on your computer is activated correctly and is genuine.
Furthermore, here is a little description of what will happen if the update finds that you are indeed running a pirated copy of Windows 7. This excerpt is taken from the Windows Genuine Windows Blog:
Once installed, the Update protects customers by identifying known activation exploits that may affect their PC experience. If any activation exploits are found, Windows will alert the customer and offer options for resolving the issue – in many cases, with just a few clicks. Machines running genuine Windows 7 software with no activation exploits will see nothing – the update runs quietly in the background protecting your system. If Windows 7 is non-genuine, the notifications built into Windows 7 will inform the customer that Windows is not genuine by displaying informational dialog boxes with options for the customer to either get more information, or acquire genuine Windows. The desktop wallpaper will be switched to a plain desktop (all of the customer’s desktop icons, gadgets, or pinned applications stay in place). Periodic reminders and a persistent desktop watermark act as further alerts to the customer.
The good news for some people is that this update is completely optional. That’s right. You can choose to hide the update if you so desire. Head into Windows Update and find the appropriate update. Right click on it and choose Hide Update from the menu. Just like that, you will never see it again. Basically, if you have a store-bought computer like Dell, Sony, HP or from one of the other big PC manufacturers, you have nothing to worry about. If on the other hand your computer has been in the hands of technicians or other computer repair shops, you might want to run this update.
Just read elsewhere that if you are actually using Microsoft’s free antivirus software called Security Essentials, it will actually install this update and ruin your pirated copy of Windows 7.
By deploying some anti-piracy technology, users will be able to check whether their copy of Windows is indeed legitimate. I don’t know about you folks but if I had a reformat done on my computer by some random technician (or even brand name companies for that matter), I would want to know if they did everything ‘by-the-books’. But like I’ve said earlier, we don’t live in a perfect world and so neither is Microsoft perfect. WGA had some issues back then with false positives which drove some users insane. Basically, legitimate copies of Windows were being flagged as illegitimate/pirated. That never happened to me before but if it did, I’ll be furious as well no doubt. Hopefully, Microsoft has learned from their past mistakes and have improved this new anti-piracy technology for Windows 7. Judging by the excellent job they did with Windows 7 itself, I have a lot of faith in them to get it right this time.