Pirates Won't See Slickest Vista

It is the first indication of its anti-piracy plans for Vista, which is now scheduled for general release in January 2007.

April 13, 2006

2 Min Read
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Pirates running counterfeit copies of Windows Vista won't see its new visual interface, known as "Aero," which includes translucent windows, animated flipping between open programs, and icons that show thumbnails of opened files, the company confirmed Thursday.

According to the Vista Product Guide, a 313-page document that was briefly posted, then pulled by Microsoft, "Windows Aero is only available to Genuine Advantage customers."

Thursday, a Microsoft spokesperson confirmed the restriction.

"Yes, Windows Aero will require customers to run a genuine copy of Windows Vista," said the spokesperson. "Those who are not running genuine Windows will not be able to take advantage of the Windows Aero user experience." Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) is the name given to the anti-piracy program Microsoft debuted in 2004 that verifies the Windows running on the PC is legitimate. In the summer of 2005, Microsoft extended WGA, and required users to validate their copy before downloading any files from Microsoft's Download Center or using the Windows Update security patch service for anything but security updates.

The Aero restriction is only the latest move in Microsoft's attempt to crack down on illegal copies of its operating system. It is, however, the first indication of its anti-piracy plans for Vista, which is now scheduled for general release in January 2007.It's also the first time that WGA has been used to limit a function of a Microsoft operating system. (The Vista Product Guide hints that Windows Defender, the anti-spyware technology to be bundled with Vista, will also require WGA validation, but that could not immediately be confirmed with Microsoft.)

Not just pirates will face a Windows 2000-style interface when they boot up Vista in 2007. The entry-level versions of the OS, including the for-emerging-markets Vista Starter and the low-end retail SKU of Vista Home Basic, will not display Aero.

Likewise, users without the graphic and processor oomph to run Aero will see a cascading series of stripped-down interfaces. While Microsoft hasn't released its official system requirements for Vista, the Product Guide laid out some details, including a video adapter with at least 64, 128, or 256MB of memory; and support for Windows Display Driver Model (WDDM).

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