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Microsoft Blacklists Cracked Windows 7 OEM Key

July 31, 2009

The score was Pirates 1, Microsoft 0, but Redmond has tied it up. Microsoft has blacklisted the Lenovo OEM master key that leaked earlier this week, explaining that “Windows 7 already includes an improved ability to detect hacks, also known as activation exploits, and alert customers who are using a pirated copy” and that “Windows Activation Technologies included in Windows 7 are designed to handle situations such as this one, and customers using these tools and methods should expect Windows to detect them.” Microsoft and Lenovo worked together to solve the issue, according to the Genuine Windows Blog:

We’ve worked with that manufacturer so that customers who purchase genuine copies of Windows 7 from this manufacturer will experience no issues validating their copy of Windows 7. At the same time we will seek to alert customers who are using the leaked key that they are running a non-genuine copy of Windows. It’s important to note that no PCs will be sold that will use this key.

The reason Microsoft could simply blacklist Lenovo’s OEM master key was because it hasn’t been used yet to generate keys for copies of Windows 7 that have already shipped. Once master keys have been used to create keys that have been sold to customers and they make it into the hands of pirates, the solution won’t be as simple. At that point, Windows 7’s new antipiracy systems will be put to the test.

Two days ago, pirates cracked the activation for Windows 7 Ultimate by using OEM instant offline activation. Other editions of the operating system were not cracked because the key that leaked was only for the Ultimate edition.

Piracy is an ongoing battle for Microsoft and this is just the first of many future cracks by pirates—and counters from Microsoft. Stay tuned!

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