Vista And The Frankenbuild Monster

    December 15, 2006
    WebProNews Staff

Adventurous people have found ways to workaround the activation system used for Microsoft’s new operating system, and the company has been forced to deal with the problem only a few weeks before Vista launches in the consumer market.

Frankenstein n. An agency or creation that slips from the control of and ultimately destroys its creator
-- Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley writes of Vista's downfall a mere 188 years ago

Part of the new Vista operating system’s protection against piracy includes a product activation requirement. A machine running Vista would connect to another server to activate the OS.

People have started to seek out workarounds for the requirement. A couple of them were noteworthy enough to irritate some colons in Redmond, and engineers have set out to thwart them ahead of the January 2007 consumer Vista release.

A post at the Windows Genuine Advantage blog acknowledged the issues being caused by the cracks, and briefly described one of them:

One of these workarounds we have affectionately named “frankenbuild” because it involves cobbling together files from an RC build and with an RTM build to create a hybrid that bypasses activation.

I thought it would be useful to walk through what our plan is for the “frankenbuild” systems.

Windows Vista will use the new Windows Update client to require only the “frankenbuild” systems to go through a genuine validation check. These systems will fail that check because we have blocked the RC keys for systems not authorized to use them.

Once a system fails that check, it loses some of Vista’s functionality. If a valid product key has not been entered in 30 days, the only way a person can use that system beyond Safe Mode will be an hour of browsing with the default web browser before Vista shuts down (it can be restarted for another hour of browsing.)

Microsoft wants people to use that hour to acquire a valid product key, and hopes the reduced functionality will motivate users of invalid copies of Vista facing the broken end of the Software Protection Program bottle to buy a legitimate license.


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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.