When it comes to Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1) Microsoft is doing two things that almost counteract each other. First off Microsoft is easing up on the “Reduced Functionality Mode” for those users who don’t pass the Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) test. As of right now if you don’t pass WGA Vista will disable premium features such as Aero Glass, ReadyBoost, games, and BitLocker. More annoyingly, however, is that it will log you out of Windows after just one hour of use.
From the standpoint of cracking down on piracy this might have been a good thing, especially since Microsoft is reporting the the Vista piracy rate is half of what it was with XP. The Reduced Functionality Mode, however, came at a cost for Microsoft. Some genuine Windows users have found themselves sitting at a computer that suddenly becomes pirated in Microsoft’s eyes, and when that happens they only have an hour at a time to work before they get logged out. In Vista SP1 when users are classified as non-genuine they will just see a notification in the System Tray as well as an image on the desktop background. It’s obviously still annoying, but at least if you’re on your way to give a presentation you don’t have to worry about your computer logging off every hour!
On the other hand Microsoft is cracking down on the Vista hacks available around the Internet. One method in particular, using purely software, is able to emulate an OEM BIOS. That is significant because users hacking Vista in this way will appear to be genuine to Microsoft. When emulating an OEM BIOS Microsoft can’t simply blacklist a serial number, and trying to flag non-genuine users would probably result in many genuine users falsely getting flagged as well.
Microsoft said that cracks like these will no longer work in Vista SP1, but that should be clarified a bit. In their current state Vista OEM BIOS cracks won’t work in SP1, but hackers will have developed a new method probably by the time SP1 is even released. You can’t blame Microsoft for trying though.
[via Ed Bott]