According to a report posted at Ars Technica Vista has been cracked. Jeremy Reimer reports that Torrents are now being circulated of the cracked version, known as Vista BillGates.

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.

As Editorial Director and Managing Analyst with IT Security Thing I am putting more than two decades of consulting experience into providing opinionated insight regarding the security threat landscape for IT security professionals. As an Editorial Fellow with Dennis Publishing, I bring more than two decades of writing experience across the technology industry into publications such as Alphr, IT Pro and (in good old fashioned print) PC Pro. I also write for SC Magazine UK and Infosecurity, as well as The Times and Sunday Times newspapers. Along the way I have been honoured with a Technology Journalist of the Year award, and three Information Security Journalist of the Year awards. Most humbling, though, was the Enigma Award for 'lifetime contribution to IT security journalism' bestowed on me in 2011.

Have something to contribute to this discussion? Please be thoughtful, detailed and courteous, and be sure to adhere to our posting rules.