Vista SP1 to drop ‘kill switch’, disable exploits

The upcoming Service Pack 1 update for Windows Vista will introduce changes to the operating system’s copy protection scheme, according to a statement released by Microsoft today. In the statement, Microsoft Corporate Vice President of Windows Product Marketing Mike Sievert explains:

Although our overall strategy remains the same, with SP1 we’re adjusting the customer experience that differentiates genuine from non-genuine systems in Windows Vista and later in Windows Server. Users whose systems are identified as counterfeit will be presented with clear and recurring notices about the status of their system and how to get genuine. They won’t lose access to functionality or features, but it will be very clear to them that their copy of Window Vista is not genuine and they need to take action.

Sievert specifies that the new scheme will depart from the one built into existing copies of Windows Vista, which locks the operating system into a "reduced functionality mode" if users fail to activate it after 30 days. The reduced functionality mode allows users to log on for one hour only, and it disables built-in games as well as "premium" features like the Aero Glass visual interface, ReadyBoost flash drive caching, and BitLocker data encryption.

Together with the change of policy, Microsoft says SP1 will include updates that will disable the two main exploits used by pirates to circumvent Vista’s copy protection. One is the OEM BIOS exploit, which mimics "a type of product activation performed on copies of Windows that are pre-installed by OEMs in the factory." The other is known as the Grace Timer exploit, which modifies Vista’s "grace timer" in order to give users until 2099 to activate.

Vista SP1 is currently scheduled to come out in the first quarter of next year, according to Microsoft’s service pack roadmap.

Comments closed
    • cheesyking
    • 12 years ago

    My brought and paid for legal Vista Business told me it was fake, then activated in the space of a few seconds when I booted it up the other day.

    I dual boot it with Ubuntu and I’m guessing it must just have been a month or more since I’d used Vista… don’t get Vista if you think your system is going to be off the net for long periods! (at least until SP1 anyhow)

    • kurt-o
    • 12 years ago

    I look forward to Vista mis-identifying properly licensed dell / hp / insertmanufacturer name here, computers and locking regular people out because it thinks its a hacked oem bios.

    • UberGerbil
    • 12 years ago

    “clear and recurring notices” — probably no more disruptive or annoying than UAC 😉

    • fpsduck
    • 12 years ago

    I think Pirates will find ways to bypass this SP1 update.

    Cat and mouse, the never-ending story.

      • d2brothe
      • 12 years ago

      There are ways to bypass it already, that they haven’t disabled.

      • albundy
      • 12 years ago

      I thought it was already bypassed before it comes out.

    • DrDillyBar
    • 12 years ago

    I own Retail. I say secure away. I’m sure I`ll be glad I don’t work in the OEM space anymore when people can’t activate some compromised volume license or some such.

    • PRIME1
    • 12 years ago

    Well I have 2 copies unopened. So I can easily wait till the SP hits before installing them. (I’ve had one for a year now).

    • DASQ
    • 12 years ago


    • crose
    • 12 years ago

    I /[

      • clone
      • 12 years ago

      you “suspect”…… you have a pirated version of Windows Vista.

      why exactly do you “suspect” you have a pirated version of Windows Vista.

      back on topic: please re welcome the nagging screens for the pirates…… it will likely last about 4hrs before disables them and throws the crack on the web but more power to MS.

      my copy of Vista is legit but I’ve yet to install it because I upgrade my computer bi monthly and occasionally bi weekly depending on customer requests and don’t want to waste the key…… or bother with stupid registration repeatedly then have to explain why I’m selling off my computers and re installing my legitimate copy of windows more often than the majority.

      • Jeffery
      • 12 years ago

      If you didn’t buy the machine from Dell and you get a big honking DELL emblem on the vista welcome center, then it is the pirated version. This really sucks as my Visa machine uses this hack. I wonder if it will disable this machine upon instillation of SP1, or simply prevent the hack on newly made SP1 images?

        • StashTheVampede
        • 12 years ago

        Here’s a scenario for ya:
        – You bought the Dell and it came with a Vista license.
        – On the machine you bought it, Vista was never used/activated — a different OS was used.

        The license was NEVER agreed to and never used. You take the DVD/key and place it onto another machine. Which agreement was violated?

        Murky license/OEM stuff here — much well to be avoided.

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