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Microsoft will take the fight to pirates with new security features in Vista SP1

Microsoft has big plans in store for its Windows Vista operating system. The company released a release candidate version of Service Pack 1 (SP1) for Windows Vista in mid-November. SP1 is supposed to address a number of performance-related issues with Vista and includes a number of security update and bug fixes that have been rolled out since the operating system launched over a year ago.

In addition to the previously mentioned SP1 features, Microsoft is looking to make pirating Vista a tougher endeavor. The Redmond, Washington-based company says that new measures introduced with SP1 will further reduce piracy -- piracy for Vista is already less than half that of Windows XP according to Microsoft.

One loophole that Microsoft will close is the current method of extending the "grace period" to activate Vista. Original versions of the exploit allowed users to extend the grace period from 30 days to 120 days. Later variations of the hack extended the grace period to a full year, while yet another extended the grace period to the year 2099.

"Under this new system, no features will be disabled. Instead it will be a notification-based experience similar in some ways to what we have done with XP. A user of a system that has not been activated and gone through the 30-day grace period to activate will, when logging in on the 31st day, see a dialog box on a plain black background," said Microsoft group product manager Alex Kochis.

"That will give them two options: Activate Windows now, which will bring up all the options to do this, and activate Windows later, which takes them directly to their desktop, which will be exactly the same as it had been the last time they used it, except that there will be a plain black background and a message in the lower right hand corner over the system tray telling them that their copy of Windows is not genuine," Kochis continued.

Microsoft will also put a stop to the OEM BIOS exploit which allows unscrupulous Vista pirates to edit systems files and a motherboard's BIOS to fool Windows into thinking that it is installed in a genuine OEM system.

These latest additions to Vista, however, will do little to quell those who continue to rally behind Microsoft's venerable Windows XP operating system. Due to customer demand, Microsoft extended the shelf life of Windows XP and has given OEMs the ability to provide Windows XP downgrades for customers who are unhappy with their new Windows Vista-based machines. In addition, recent testing has shown that Vista SP1 is no match for Windows XP SP3 in OfficeBench performance which gotten much play around the web.

Not surprisingly, Apple has pounced on Microsoft's Vista woes and has a number of television commercials which poke fun at Vista's "inferiority" to Windows XP.





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