Just when you thought Microsoft has passed on the baton to hard-hitting Steve Ballmer, the company suddenly went soft on alleged pirates of Windows Vista. The software giant is abandoning a system that disables programs on a user’s computer if it suspects that the software is pirated. Instead, it is opting for a gentler approach based on nagging alerts. This will come in the form of a new version of Windows Genuine Advantage in its first Vista service pack, scheduled to be released in the first quarter of 2008.
With this update, Windows Genuine Advantage will no longer disable pirated copies of the operating system and PC users can continue to use their computers even though the OS is less than genuine. The disadvantage, of course, is that the desktop wallpaper will turn black and a white notice will appear alerting users to the problem. Each time a user logs in, he/she will be prompted to buy an authentic copy of Vista. Every hour, a reminder bubble will also appear on the screen.
Essentially, what this means is that if you can tolerate the many irritations, you can continue to use a pirated copy of Vista almost forever (i.e. until Microsoft changes its mind). However, if you decide to cave in, at least console yourself that you can buy a genuine copy of Vista (Home Premium) at half the regular retail price.