Windows 8 is coming, and Microsoft naturally wants to make the new OS difficult to pirate. ExtremeTech has a few details on Redmond's strategy based on the latest build of the upcoming OS. Volume licenses are reportedly on the way out, and product keys won't be included with the OS. Users will instead have to hit up a Microsoft web page to get their key.
It's unclear whether one will be able to get a Windows 8 key without a working Internet connection, but it's certainly possible that the Borg mothership's phone lines will be open as an alternative. Anyone with a working connection should be able to install the new OS and reach Microsoft's site before inputting a key to activate Windows 8.
ExtremeTech says there's "a good possibility" that Windows 8 will have additional anti-piracy protection related to a Microsoft fast-booting patent, which uses a remote server to send client systems the OS code they need to boot. Such a mechanism would be more difficult for crackers to defeat, but it sounds like a complex approach that's fraught with potential problems that could negatively impact legitimate customers.