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Updated Pirates have succeeded in making cracking, rather than simply circumventing, Windows Vista product activation easier than ever before.

A crack from pirate group Pantheon allows pirated Vista installations to be activated and made fully operational. The approach avoids reliance on beta activation or time stamp hacks, instead concentrating on flaws in the volume activation process.

Pantheon's approach piggybacks on the volume license activation process used by Redmond's tier-one OEMs such as HP, Dell, and ASUS. In order to minimise support calls (and user inconvenience), Microsoft allows preferred partners to pre-install versions of Vista that don't require activation.

This System-Locked Pre-Installation 2.0 scheme allows OEMs to embed specific licensing information into the OS so the product can be activated without been verified by Microsoft.

Pirates have come up with a software bundle that includes certificate files from ASUS, Dell, HP, and Lenovo along with OEM product keys for Vista Home Basic, Home Premium, and Ultimate. It also comes with a BIOS driver that allows certificate information from (for example) HP to be installed on any suitably powerful machine, regardless of manufacturer.

Australia's APC magazine reports that the crack works, allowing machines running pirated copies of Vista to pass Windows Genuine Advantage checks. ®

Bootnote

Thanks for all the comments. We realize this crack is a year old, but it still works and won't be thwarted until the release of Vista SP1.

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