For me the report of this latest hack was a double whammy. First it’s no fun to read a report of a new attempt to hack Microsoft’s products, but secondly the tone of coverage of this hack on one of my favorite sites left me very disappointed.
First the hack. Known as the ‘timer crack’ or ‘2099 crack’ this hack basically resets the pre-activation grace period to be in effect through 2099. Implementing this hack requires the user to implement a 23-step process that involves modifying/replacing kernel level files, making manual registry edits and other serious changes that could have destabilizing consequences. Our team is actively reviewing the reports of this workaround now, and I expect we’ll take corrective action soon.
I ran across the first report of the hack on one of my favorite websites, Engadget, which I read daily as a feed on my live.com page. What disappointed me so much about the post that announced this hack wasn’t that they discussed the hack, because I do think it’s newsworthy. What really disappointed me was the tone of the Engadget poster. The poster seems to endorse the practice of trying to hack Windows Vista to enable unlicensed use. The beginning of the post says “we’ve already found a way to circumvent Redmond’s most valiant efforts to make us activate the darned software” and the end concludes with “So if you’re looking to hit up a new OS in the coming weeks, or you’ve already got ‘er up and running, be sure to peep the read link if you’re interested in pulling this off“. I don’t know how to interpret that except as a blatant endorsement of theft, by whoever “we” is. I can’t imagine reading another post on Engadget using language like that to encourage people to try to get their hands on any of the recently-stolen truck load of RAM or any other of the thousands of products they have featured on their site. The Engadget editorial policy says “If we get something wrong, we correct the error immediately.” I’d ask, is it wrong to advocate theft?