1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Black screens for pirate copies of Windows

Discussion in 'News' started by wagnerk, Aug 29, 2008.

  1. wagnerk
    Highly Decorated Member Award

    wagnerk aka kitkatninja Moderator


    Black screens for pirate copies of Windows

    Owners of non-genuine copies of Windows XP will get a black background instead of their wallpaper every hour, as well as a translucent watermark

    In a bid to deter people from using pirate versions of Windows, Microsoft is now updating its Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) tool to introduce a few uncomfortable niggles for users of pirated versions of Windows.

    On the WGA blog, Microsoft explains that if a copy of Windows fails the validation process ‘users will discover on their next logon that their desktop has changed to a plain black background from whatever was there previously.’ You’ll be able to change the background back to whatever you want, but it will revert to a black screen again after an hour. As well as this, copies of Windows deemed to not be genuine will also have a translucent watermark above the system tray, which Microsoft calls a ‘persistent desktop notification.’

    Read the whole article here.

    Certifications: CITP, PGDip, BSc, HNC, LCGI, PTLLS, MCT, MCITP, MCTS, MCSE, MCSA:M, MCSA, MCDST, MCP, MTA, MCAS, MOS (Master), A+, N+, S+, ACA, VCA, etc... & 2nd Degree Black Belt
    WIP: MSc in Tech Management


    1. wagnerk
      One thing that I'd like to point out is that this not only happens on pirated copies of Windows, but it also can happen on legit copies...

    2. zimbo
      yea this is kinda stupid cause for some reason i had two original copies of XP fail to register the first time through the years - btw is it like "illegal" that MS downloads those "widgets" to change the wallpaper and watermark? :rolleyes:
    3. BosonMichael
      Ah, but if it's truly legit, that can be fixed.

      Yes, yes, I know, it's a lot of hassle, it shouldn't be that way, legit users get affected, blah, blah, blah... sorry, a few pirates ruin it for the rest of us. Sucks, but that's life.

      For the record, I've administered over a thousand XP computers for multiple employers and clients... and I have yet to have a single one get locked down due to a false positive "illegal copy" notification. I'm sure it happens... but I've not seen it happen once.
    4. Arroryn
      Eh. It's not *much* of a deterrent, is it.

      *whomph* your background is black.

      Alternate-click on an image, and go 'set as wallpaper'

      How intrusive :rolleyes:

      I agree with some comments on the article - if they want to start *infiltrating* people's PCs to change settings, then cap the performance of the RAM (if indeed this is possible). That would be more likely to stop people pirating software (or pieating as I keep typing it...)

      I mean, FFS, what's the problem with punting out £80 - £100 (or whatever it costs) for XP Pro, when it's the only thing on your PC that's going to be guaranteed to be running the whole time.

      She says. With Vista Premium. lol.

      The article says it's looking at businesses and any 'XP Pro' users as it's the most pirated OS.

      Any business running pirate software needs to be audited and their IT budget-maker shot. It's corporate suicide, no matter what size the company. I bet they'd get more results targeting businesses that haven't got the right amount of CALs for their different servers and the PCs that require them on site. Or Home licenses for XP machines. Or by doing *anything* except changing the damn colour of the wallpaper. *walks away, shaking head, laughing*
    5. zebulebu
      LOL - my background is plain black anyway, and (almost without exception) has been for about fifteen years!

      BTW - That APC album is awesome Arro - one of my top twenty of all time.
    6. Arroryn
      Mine at work is black. Less distracting, and still makes it stand out from the corporate white. lol. Will occasionally switch it to a lolcat, if I get in a peeved mood and want to discreetly say so.

      Ah. Mer de Noms. I wanted a line from Sleeping Beauty next to it, but couldn't fit in enough characters. Despite the first album being regarded as APC's best, I do still like Thirteenth Step and eMotive. Fav songs are 3 Libras, Sleeping Beauty, The Noose, Blue, Pet, Counting Bodies (Like Sheep...), Freedom of Choice and When the Levee Breaks.

      So not many of them. lol.

      Question: are Microshaft contravening any privacy laws by sticking this widget in the corner of your machine desktop, or has it been snuck into the terms and conditions of the WGA update that undoubtedly no one but the most bored of lawyers has ever read?
    7. BosonMichael
      (and *whomph*, it changes back to black in an hour...)

      Agreed. But then we'd hear a buncha whiners complaining about false positives... people with legit copies that get locked down.

      Meh, I say, let Microsoft do whatever needs to be done to stop piracy of their product. If we truly don't like how we are affected, we can buy another OS.

      If I pirated software, I'd display the black screen as a badge of pride, smiling with my money in my pocket. It really *isn't* much of a deterrent.

      Now, if it were a pink background... then yeah, there'd be hell to pay! :p
    8. BosonMichael
      It's their OS; they've given you a license to use it. And if I'm not mistaken, they've got wording in their licensing that states that they can update it whenever they dang well please, much to the consternation of those who don't like that sorta intrusion.

      Me, I don't care; update away!
    9. Arroryn
      Updating their software, yeah, but they're altering your settings... but then, it's their registry... ack my brain hurts. I mean, I'm legit and have Vista anyway, so I'm not going to get stung by this. But we have XP Pro (valid) at our site. What if the validation checks don't hold true on our machines? That's gonna cause a shedload of helpdesk calls.

      It would be interesting on how this is done. I mean, it *has* to be a registry setting of some kind that they change, right?

      We alter our wallpapers via login script anyway - but with the hourly updates, that would doubtless be over-ridden. What about domain environments that are flagged as 'faulty' but have wallpaper set by group policy? I don't quite understand enough of it to understand the full effects. But it sounds awfully icky for any admins that get inadvertently stung by this.
    10. Qs
      Microsoft haven't aimed this at legitimate users of their software you know :p It's doubtful that it will affect (m)any such users. I wouldn't worry about it :)
    11. Arroryn
      I'm not personally worried, just playing devil's advocate for debating and conversational purposes :) In an OS that's so widely distributed, there are bound to be (more than) a few false positives - it would be (personally) interesting to know how it [the update] is applied and the repercussions for companys that are wrongly flagged.
    12. BosonMichael
      If it does, then gripe to Microsoft. That said, if you're already doing automatic updates, you've *already* been validated... you'd likely already know if you were running rogue.

      Not necessarily... they could alter *any* of the files... up to and including explorer.exe, if they wanted to.

      Wallpaper set by group policy would likely behave the same as a login script. And even if the computer fetched a group policy update, it'd still slip back in an hour.
    13. BosonMichael
      Well, there's always (supposedly) a batch of (supposedly) legit users who complain that these checks "hurt those who purchase the sofware legitimately". I'm sure it happens, but, again, I have yet to see a single instance of it happening. On those cases where you change a BUNCH of hardware (this REALLY doesn't happen much in a business IT environment), you *might* have to call for reactivation... but dude, I'm a gamer, so I change hardware every few months... and I have yet to have to call for reactivation.
    14. BosonMichael
      Percentage wise, I doubt there are many false positives. That said, with the sheer number of Windows installations out there, even a hundredth of a percentage point is something for Microsoft to consider.

      Personally, I'm disappointed that Microsoft didn't stick to their guns with Vista's validation, which required that you activate within 30 days or be forced to use a limited functionality version. But Microsoft caved to the pressure.
    15. Qs
      Same here. Never seen it happen and it's never happened to me even constantly swapping out graphics cards/hdds/ram at home.

      *shrugs* Maybe the update is horribly flawed but Bill likes us so we're the exceptions to the rule :p
    16. Gary B
      Gary B
      There are updates every month that add new 'features' and you have two choices over updates that you either download and update or don't - it's your choice

      If I were MS and my money was being stolen then I'd be much much tougher than they are.

      I used to work in a local PC shop back in 2001 - 2003 and there was an XP Pro corporate/enterprise copy doing the rounds on a key that didn't require activation. You'd be suprised or maybe not at the owners of PC's who used this key. It's not understatement that 80% of customers who'd got XP Pro on their PC had this illegal copy and they ranged from Policemen, solicitors (lawyers), surgeons, doctors, dentists, in fact most professions going (those who can afford and should also know better). We used to do maint contracts and we even saw it in use in a couple of schools.

      As for large companies, It does happen although I think more often than not it's not by choice but simply poor quality control and management of their IT departments. I work for a massive organisation and I'm just in the process of auditing all our workstations on site and I've already highlighted a number of anomalies (which have now been corrected)
    17. Modey
      I have come across the 'false positives' as you put it a number of times with XP. Especially when WGA was first introduced. I knew quite a few people with legitimate OEM installs of XP that were being told they weren't genuine etc... I tried sorting it out on one PC and in the end used a WGA removal tool to stop it complaining.

      I personally don't find MS's anti-pircay measures particularly intrusive, far less so than some of the ludicrous ones seen on some games that now come out. Don't know what the fuss is about anyway, there will be a crack out for this new measure before it even goes live. :)
    18. ThomasMc
      Lmao, so true
    19. JonnyMX
      I've taken the sceenshot from that news article and set it as my wallpaper.


      If we all did that then it would render the whole exercise mute.

      But anyway, back to the age old argument, Microsoft own the product, and I salute any effort they make to protect what is theirs.

      What about the iTunes downloads that will only play on an iPod?

      The World is full of this sort of thing, but only MS seem to get a bashing for it.

    Share This Page