The other day we mentioned a key generator for Windows Vista that would randomly generate product keys until it actually found one that worked. This method might work, but the author has actually admitted that the success rate is far too low for it to work for anyone.

However, I was just over at APC Magazine and they had an article about a new kind of crack that was recently made available to activate a computer running Vista. Up until this point many Vista cracks have dealt with modifying your system time in order to spoof the activation into thinking you have a lot more time left to activate than you actually do. A new crack by a group called Paradox sounds like it is the real deal.

Many of you probably know about Microsoft’s Volume Activation method and how it works. In Windows XP Microsoft provided certain product keys to corporations that would bypass the need to activate your system so that deploying computers on a large scale was not such a pain. In Windows Vista they removed that capability because that was the source of many pirated copies of XP.

Vista Crack
Image from APC Magazine

Some OEM’s, such as Dell and ASUS, were able to work with Microsoft to come up with a method of shipping pre-activated computers though. It’s called System-Locked Pre-Installation 2.0 (SLP 2.0) and I wasn’t familiar with it so I started searching around. According to Wikipedia:

Operating systems that use SLP check for a particular text string in a computer’s BIOS upon booting. If the text string does not match the information stored in the particular installation’s OEMBIOS files, the user is prompted to activate his or her copy as normal. This effectively “locks” the operating system to the qualified motherboard.

The crack by Paradox will actually install an emulation driver that is used to make your system think you’re running a system from any of the manufacturer’s listed above. This prevents you from having to actually modify the files on your system which most people would be skeptical about doing. And in case you’re wondering, APC does say that this works and passes WGA (Windows Genuine Advantage) checks:

And yes, the crack most certainly works. You end up with an activated, legitimate copy of Vista which passes all the Windows Genuine Advantage checks.

Some comments on the APC site say that they verified the crack on a VMware installation, and it worked like a charm. I started to search around to see what other blogs were saying about this, and that’s when I actually came across one blog that walks you through the steps needed to use the crack. To me, it is still too much work and not something I would like to fiddle around with. Because of the nature of cracks I stay away from them…for all I know I could be voluntarily installing a virus that gives some hacker my passwords, credit card numbers, and pretty much my whole identity.

Unlike Vista, Office 2007 does still have the original Volume Activation method which means you are able to download an illegal copy and activate it using just a product key. I’m surprised Microsoft didn’t get around to changing the Volume Activation system in Office 2007 as well, which will probably make a lot of pirates quite happy.

We knew the day would come where hackers figured out an easy way to crack Windows Vista, and I’m sure as time goes on it will only get easier. After all, that’s how cracks work…they get more elaborate and easier to install the longer they are around.

Thanks for the tip Alfredo!