Microsoft is keeping remarkably quiet on the subject, and my emails requesting official comment have gone unanswered. Perhaps because the pirated version is not all it is cracked up to be (excuse the pun) as in order to circumvent the correct product key requirement, the BillGates edition would appear to have replaced certain Vista release code components with earlier Beta code ones. While this means that it can be activated online without the need for a paid for license, it also means that it should be relatively simple for Microsoft to simply deactivate by way of an automatic update. Not to mention usage of Windows Genuine Advantage to restrict access of essential system updates, which would make opting for the cracked edition an even more stupid thing to do.
I understand that there is also a fully cracked version of Office 2007 floating around now, which being the Enterprise edition doesn’t require online activation at all courtesy of the volume licensing key. It is this license that will be (look out another pun is coming) key to those who would distribute cracked versions of Vista as well. But I see no reason why the measures outlined above will not work to negate such a tactic.
Of course, I am not saying that there will be no piracy and that Microsoft has (third pun, just count ‘em) got it cracked. The company strategy seems to be that of adding enough layers of annoyance to make it a bum deal for most users, on the basis that they really would not want an OS that requires constant updating and patching in order to work properly.
Oh the irony.