On the picture above you can see our beloved Steve-O during the launch of Windows Vista with next to him Lenovo’s CEO William Amelio. Steve-O understandably looked very happy that day, no doubt glad the long development cycle of Windows Vista finally came to an end. However, things have since changed, and I wouldn’t want to be in Steve-O’s office when he finds out about the stuff below.
If you’re on, and perhaps even if you’re near, the Microsoft Campus in Redmond these days, you’ll probably notice a lot of noise coming from one of the buildings. You’ll hear people yelling, screaming and maybe even loud cries. You’ll also hear cracking, loud bangs and other similar noise coming from that building – the kind of noise you usually expect to hear at a building demolition site. Occasionally you might even see random furniture fly straight through one of the windows and landing nearby.
That’s likely the building where the team responsible for the group of software called “Software Craptection Platform” in Windows Vista is located. I know what you’re thinking; usually you’d assume that’s probably the building where Ballmer’s office was located. But right now I have reason to believe that it is more likely to be the “Software Craptection Platform” team.
The reason for that is that Windows Vista is already being widely pirated even though “Software Craptection Platform” was supposed to make that more difficult. As you can see on this forum, the Business and Enterprise versions of Vista can be installed without a key, or, using the default key, and can then be activated against a Key Management Server (KMS) in China. Windows Vista can then be used for 180 days before you have to activate it again. Let me now include the important text below just in case it gets removed:
found this this minute – over 6000 people reporting it works. KMS method to activate your Vista !! (Business edition only)
Install Vista FINAL RELEASE with Key YFKBB-PQJJV-G996G-VWGXY-2V3X8
Choose “Business edition” ONLY not others !!
When Windows setup completed and Internet access setup completed. Open Command Prompt under “Administrator Mode”, That is, right click the Command Prompt icon, select “run as admin”
Activate your Business Vista against sito.kmip.net
(This is a private KMS server for Volume License 2.0a activiation).
Now in command prompt (Admin mode)
cscript c:\windows\system32\slmgr.vbs -skms sito.kmip.net
cscript C:\windows\system32\slmgr.vbs -ato
Activate completed !!
Now you may wish to check the activation status
cscript c:\windows\system32\slmgr.vbs -dlv
KMS Volume License activate requires re-activate every 180 days. The reactive will be done automatically.
Only works for Business Vista and Enterprise Vista, not other editions!!
And I imagine there will be more public KMS servers to choose from in the near future. The Chinese are only leading the way at the moment. I imagine Microsoft is going to find a way to block users who have activated against one of these public KMS servers from getting updates on Windows Update and through Genuine Crapvantage, but at least Vista can be used without buying it.
If you thought that was already an issue for Microsoft, then get a load of this: A VMWare image can now be downloaded which contains a fully activated Key Management Server in it. Users can now download this image, run it in VMWare locally and activate Windows Vista against it as many times as they want. If the 180 days expire, you can just fire up the image in VMWare again and activate against your own local KMS. This article sums it up nicely:
The idea behind KMS is that you have a single PC running KMS which can then handle activation for all your Vista clients, so that they don’t have to connect back to Microsoft every single time.
The downside of KMS is that the activation is only good for 180 days, to discourage people bringing in their home systems, activating them and wandering off again.
Bearing in mind that KMS wasn’t scheduled to be released until next year, pirates have managed to get hold of KMS and produce a standalone, fully-activated KMS server called “Windows Vista Local Activation Server MelindaGates”. Tongue-in-cheek of course the first “cracked” version of Vista was called Vista BillGates.
The download is a VMWare image, and the idea behind it is that you download and install VMWare Player (a legal free download), boot the image and use some VBS script (supplied with the activation server download) to have the client Vista machine get its activation from the local server. And that’s it no communication back to Microsoft.
Of course, in line with the Volume Activation 2.0 model, this only works with Vista Business and Enterprise editions, as they are the only ones which will accept KMS keys.
Home and Ultimate editions still use normal single-use activation that calls back to Microsoft for validation of the product ID.
On one hand, this is strikes a serious blow to Vista’s activation model. Simply possessing the Vista DVD (which was released on the boards about two weeks ago) wasn’t enough to get you past the robust activation requirements. But if you can load up a local activation server and activate Vista that way, it sort of makes the whole thing redundant.
There are two caveats though. Vista still has to be installed with a KMS product key, so if that activated system ever goes through the WGA system with a known pirated key, Microsoft will be able to track it down and eventually close the loop.
The second is that this is a true KMS server, so the activation is only good for 180 days, then the client needs re-activation.
And there you have it. This is as good as the FCKGW DevilsOwn Windows XP release which I wrote about not too long ago. Microsoft was only able to solve that problem by blocking the FCKGW key with the first service pack for Windows XP. This time, they might be able to block users activating through the local KMS much earlier through Windows Update and Windows Genuine Crapvantage, but that’s only going to work for those who try to download updates from Microsoft.
But this is an ongoing effort as far as the pirates are concerned and I think it’s safe to say we should expect even better hacks in the future. What is also pretty clear is that all the effort Microsoft put into Software Craptection Platform was essentially for nothing, as pirates are still able to work around it, and the only thing Microsoft seems to have achieved is make life more difficult for system administrators, who now have the additional headache of setting up KMSs in their organization. In addition, volume license customers are sure to enjoy working in “reduced functionality mode” when Windows Genuine Crapvantage suddenly decides they are using a pirated version of Windows Vista. They’re going to especially love it when they have a deadline to reach on that same day as well.
Finally, here’s an idea for Microsoft: Why don’t you guys take the Software Craptection Platform team out of their misery, merge them with the IE team and have them work on a download manager for IE 7 similar to what FireFox has? – A feature which is loooong overdue in my opinion. Doing that, they could add 100000000000 times more value to Windows Vista compared to what they’ve been doing.