Fake Vista

Can you figure out which disc above is a counterfeit copy of Windows Vista? Most people probably wouldn’t be able to tell which is why software piracy is an increasing problem for both the people looking to purchase applications as well as the companies developing the software.

One of the largest counterfeit software manufacturing busts ever was made yesterday in China. More than 290,000 counterfeit software CD’s and COA’s (certificates of authenticity) were seized in the bust, and it all comes to a whopping retail value of $500 million! I’m sure it will shock a few of you, but some of the credit goes back to Microsoft’s Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) program. Yep, that annoying little thing that makes sure the Windows you’re running is genuine has actually done some good, as the Windows Vista Blog points out:

Beyond the sheer size of the bust, the most exciting aspect for MS’ WGA (Windows Genuine Advantage) team is knowing that WGA played a role in it. More than 1,000 customers in 12 different countries who had purchased counterfeits from this particular source used WGA to learn their software was counterfeit, submitted the counterfeits to Microsoft, and forensic and intelligence specialists then traced the counterfeits back to the criminal syndicate in China.

I’m wondering what those people get who submitted the pirated software to Microsoft. According to the Genuine Windows site it is possible that they would receive a complimentary replacement disc. Of course, that could be a lot of replacements that Microsoft would have to give away, but in the long run it would surely be worth it.

For those of you wanting more information here are some of the details from the FBI’s report:

The operation, codenamed “Summer Solstice,” began in 2005 and since then, law enforcement in both countries have worked closely by sharing information to jointly investigate multinational conspiracies by groups who manufacture and distribute counterfeit software products around the world. This unprecedented cooperative effort led to the arrest of twenty five individuals, the search of multiple businesses and residential locations, asset seizures by the Chinese government worth over $7 million, and the seizure of over 290,000 counterfeit software CDs and COAs (certificates of authenticity) in China. The counterfeit software has an estimated retail value of $500 million. In addition, Agents with the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office executed 24 searches and asset seizure warrants, yielding approximately $2 million in counterfeit software products, in addition to assets seized by the U.S. government worth over $700,000.

I still can’t get over how similar the two Vista discs are from the beginning of the article. So did you figure out which Vista disc was fake? The one on the left is real, and the one on the right is fake.

Source: Windows Vista Blog, Download Squad, and Windows Connected

There Are 6 Comments

  1. You know what good for Microsoft. This is just insane how software piracy runs rapid over there. Weather it be Microsoft Office, Windows, the latest Playstation2 or Wii game(s). Maybe this will server as an example and we would start see a slow down in piracy.

  2. At least WGA turned out to be worth it for Microsoft, right? But this is just one of many problems. They’ve got a long ways to go!

  3. Amazing how close they can get fakes to the real thing.

  4. Mohan wrote:
    You know what good for Microsoft. This is just insane how software piracy runs rapid over there. Weather it be Microsoft Office, Windows, the latest Playstation2 or Wii game(s). Maybe this will server as an example and we would start see a slow down in piracy.

    I was thinking the same thing. I wonder how widespread piracy actually is. Microsoft surely has some numbers even thought they would probably never release them.

    The Slasher wrote:
    Amazing how close they can get fakes to the real thing.

    Yeah, but if they were manufactured once I’m sure it isn’t hard to manufacture them again. It’s probably second nature to some of these piracy groups, and it is probably like photocopying a sheet of paper to them. :)

  5. I knew just by looking that the right one is fake :D :P

    The text is not blask but gray, and it’s not soo shiny XD

  6. Unfortunately, this was only 25 individuals who are producing $500,000,000 worth of merchandise, this only represents less than 1% of people actually doing this type of activity. It was a wonderful gain for Microsoft, and both US and China’s Gov’t. but this won’t end anything, the best it will do is temporarily disrupt the flow of things, but it will never end, for every security measure there are 150 individuals trying to crack it, it won’t be able to end unless there is actually physical hardware that protects these things, software is too vulnerable.

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