Windows Activation Technologies Update for Windows 7

Windows Activation Technologies Update for Windows 7

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In the coming days, we’ll be deploying a new update for Windows Activation Technologies, the set of built-in activation and validation components built into Windows 7. Called Windows Activation Technologies Update for Windows 7, this update will detect more than 70 known and potentially dangerous activation exploits. Activation exploits are sometimes called “hacks”, and attempt to bypass or compromise Windows’ activation technologies. This new update is further evidence of Microsoft’s commitment to keeping customers and partners secure. The update will determine whether Windows 7 installed on a PC is genuine and will better protect customers’ PCs by making sure that the integrity of key licensing components remains intact.

So, what are the risks of activation exploits? Searching for, downloading, or installing activation exploits or counterfeit software on the Internet is risky, because sites that advertise these pirated products often contain malware, viruses, and Trojans, which are found bundled with or directly built into the activation exploit or counterfeit software. A study by research firm IDC, The Risks of Obtaining and Using Pirated Software, shows that one in four Web sites offering counterfeit software attempted to install unwanted or malicious code upon downloading. And this rate is rising. Media Surveillance, an anti-piracy solutions company based in Germany, recently downloaded more than five hundred pirated copies of Windows 7 (and Windows activation exploits) and found that 32% contained malicious code. These are very disturbing figures – especially when considering that resellers may be using these downloads to claim that the PCs they sell include genuine Windows. Buyers of new PCs should always check for the Certificate of Authenticity (COA) to verify that the PC they are purchasing contains only genuine Windows. A quick visit to our How to Tell website tells buyers what a genuine COA should look like.

The Update is designed to run on all editions of Windows 7, although we will distribute first to the Home Premium, Professional, Ultimate and Enterprise editions. It will be available online at www.microsoft.com/genuine beginning February 16 and on the Microsoft Download Center beginning February 17. Later this month, the update will also be offered through Windows Update as an ‘Important’ update.

Although the Update will not be directly offered through Windows Server Update Services (WSUS), which is used by enterprise customers to manage the distribution of software updates in their IT environment, a WSUS administrator can import this update into WSUS through the Microsoft Update catalog. I’d like to stress that the Update is voluntary, which means that you can choose not to install it when you see it appear on Windows Update. I also want to stress that installing this update will not jeopardize your privacy; although the update contacts Microsoft’s servers to check for new threats as I outline below, the information we receive from PCs during these checks does not include any personally identifiable information or any other information that Microsoft can use to identify or contact you. This update follows the same stringent and secure set of privacy principles and policies as other downloads. The update can also be uninstalled at any time.

How does it work? Once installed, the Update protects customers by identifying known activation exploits that may affect their PC experience. If any activation exploits are found, Windows will alert the customer and offer options for resolving the issue – in many cases, with just a few clicks. Machines running genuine Windows 7 software with no activation exploits will see nothing – the update runs quietly in the background protecting your system. If Windows 7 is non-genuine, the notifications built into Windows 7 will inform the customer that Windows is not genuine by displaying informational dialog boxes with options for the customer to either get more information, or acquire genuine Windows. The desktop wallpaper will be switched to a plain desktop (all of the customer’s desktop icons, gadgets, or pinned applications stay in place). Periodic reminders and a persistent desktop watermark act as further alerts to the customer.

It is important to know that the customer will see no reduced functionality in their copy of Windows – a customer’s applications work as expected, and access to personal information is unchanged. The Update will run periodic validations (initially every 90 days). During validation, Windows will download the latest ‘signatures’ that are used to identify new activation exploits – much like an anti-virus service. When tampering, disabling, or missing licensing files are discovered, the WAT Update runs a check and repair weekly to ensure that the licensing files are properly repaired. 

Joe Williams
General Manager, Genuine Windows

41 Comments
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  • Furthurmore, use this strategy to combat Microsoft's idiocy...............

    1. These WGA and WAT updates can be unchecked and hidden for now so do this when these updates are presented to you for install.

    2. Never allow Windows Updates to install automatically. Select either "Download updates and let me choose when to install" or "Never check for updates" and run them manually (Recommended).

    3. Never install a Windows update without viewing the purpose of the update, just in case you feel it's not what you want

    4. If a service pack requires that you install WAT or WGA, do not install the SP, unless fixes from it are needed that outway the WAT/WGA installation and are crucial for stable usage of Windows. Remember, most of the service packs updates can be applied individually keeping up other Windows updates current.

  • While I understand Microsoft wanting to protect their product, the reality is that legitimate paying customers are the only one's inconvenienced by Microsoft's licensing scheme. As a legitimate corporate user, I have to maintain a KMS server for volume licensed copies of Windows and Office, whereas individuals using cracks and loaders for these same products have a much easier time dealing with activation and don't have to purchase a server either. I've also had legitimate machines go counterfeit on me like others, wasting my time calling Microsoft to re-activate whereas loader users aren't bothered by similar issues with WGA or WAT.

    Everyone needs to understand that Microsoft has never successfully deployed any type of activation protection that has worked the way they intended, don't expect anything to change anytime this decade. Insanity is defined by doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result. WGA or WAT, whatever you'll call it, will never succeed when users still own their computers and can physically control a PC. When I saw Alex Kochis leave months ago, I was wondering who would replace him and add to the failure taking on the role of the patsy. As years pass, his replacement will fail to complete this task as well and understand what jewels of knowledge and foresight I've just presented to him here like Nostradamus.

    What Microsoft needs to do is go back to the simple license key activation they used in the NT days and use the resources wasted on WGA and WAT towards something more important like lowering the price of a copy of Windows or Office, which will definitely help lower the amount of piracy of Microsoft products, which is the goal.

  • mcb
    1 Posts

    Yesterday I installed update KB 971033. Today I logged on and it says "This copy of Windows is not genuine." My machine never went to some tech support center, and this license was received and activated directly with Microsoft (I am a developer). Apart from the license key, is it checking something else where there may be a margin for error?

  • tasarim
    7 Posts

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  • zerone
    1 Posts

    Dear Mr. Joe Williams, when we buy a genuine copy of windows for money, are we purchasing it or are we buying it for a rent? Because you communicate time to time with our windows copy we purchased and you hold all the jurisdiction over it! Which is very disturbing.. do u know that those updates sometimes cause system corruptions and often leads to system restores, and moreover are u aware of the fact that it debase the performance of the system with all those patches, security updates etc. time to time? Do your best to build up a system which cannot be cracked, and after u sell it use the updates and patches for the security of the end-user and its data; don't disturb him for your own sake; coz we buy it for money.

  • its very good tohave microsoft's new update but the update do not affect cracks like chew wga or remove wat and also this update can be tampered very easily.

    join

    http://antipiracy.ning.com

  • Bitzie
    12 Posts

    I see in the Windows 7 WGA forums that this patch went out more broadly than it should have.  I'm a person in the USA that got the WAT patch automatically installed.  Now it's no longer offered in this area.  

    It annoys me when you glitch this up.

    We're not told what area it's being deployed on, we're not told that if we happened to see it pushed down that it wasn't supposed to be.

    Don't mess with Windows update and the trust of patching.

  • Bitzie
    12 Posts

    I see in the Windows 7 WGA forums that this patch went out more broadly than it should have.  I'm a person in the USA that got the WAT patch automatically installed.  Now it's no longer offered in this area.  

    It annoys me when you glitch this up.

    We're not told what area it's being deployed on, we're not told that if we happened to see it pushed down that it wasn't supposed to be.

    Don't mess with Windows update and the trust of patching.

  • Quark
    1 Posts

    I just purchased an OEM copy of Windows 7 Pro 64bit on Ebay for $119.00. It will be good to test it with this. I was burned with a illegal copy of  XP Pro from an Ebay seller although it had worked fine for almost a year, too late to return it. Nothing worse than a thief. I probably wouldn't have noticed the new update if it hadn't been for my Eset SS firewall asking if I should allow it internet access. I gave it temporary access and we'll see if becomes an annoyance.

  • Aaron
    3 Posts

    I activated my windows 7 and it's shows that my version is Genuine, but i got this message from system:

    "This  pre-relise version of Windows 7 Ultimate will expire in 0 hours"

    What I should do?

  • This is good news, since some of us PAY for it. Why others to use it for free. Support for this. I think MS should go more deeply and try to make special report tool for this kind of activities.

  • There is no reason on god's green earth that I should install more MS spyware on my PC!  How many times does it dial out to Microsoft already to decide if it likes me enough to allow me to use my own computer?  Every three days, I believe?  I heard that you can hack the OS to make it only report your computer to microsoft once a month.  I guess that won't work after you've made this latest arrogant software mandfatory.  WPA startedn out voluntary too.

    Well I DECLINE, thank you.

    I'm going to have my firewall block microsoft.com and open it only for manual update checking.  The hell with your checking up on me.

    You guys long ago decided that they can make more money by doing things that are in THEIR interest rather than the customers', like IBM.  The Japs don't do that, which is why their industry mops the floor with ours.  

    I can just see Ballmer at the meeting:

    We're spending money on tech support for the explorer toolbar?  Let's not make it easier to use,  Let's not make it optional with the default "off".  Let's just delete an important feature of the user interface!   Instead of a single icon click, we'll make them right-click and then scroll down to  "delete" on a menu every time!  We'll save (i.e., make) more money that way!

    What's that young guy in the back of the room saying?  "The users won't like it?"  SO WHAT??   What are they gonna do, install OS/X on their PC instead?  HAHAAH!  Oh, And fire that disloyal  employee.  Have security give him the bum';s rush!!

    As soon as Google writes a public domain win-compatible OS, or the Linux tipping point happens, you're going to go the way of IBM, and Ballmer can throw all the chairs he wants.

    --faye kane, homeless brain

  • I'm not sure I completely understand. Am I to assume the following is true? -- If I am *legally* running the evaluation copy of Windows 7, when it "expires" after March 1, 2010 (using the word "expired" loosely since the OS will function but automatically shut down every few hours) I will end up with reduced functionality. But if I were to (theoretically) "pirate" a copy of Windows 7 and simply refuse to install the *optional* WAT update, I am free to use Windows 7 (albeit a pirated copy) in a fully functioning form? This seems as ridiculous as the prospect of what many others above me have posted (regarding a person purchasing a copy/license number which inadvertently ends up plastered all over the Internet).

  • Very interesting!  Good to see Microsoft is on top of counterfeit copies of Windows 7.

  • I agree that companies need to protect against pirating of their products.  However, when a company takes actions without authenticating the true owner of the Product Key, I feel it is unfair and unethical.  I have spent a great number of hours trying to navigate the Microsoft website so I can authenticate my Product Key because of the Genuine Microsoft Software message that comes up ever time I open my program.  Lots of information is on the website but I have found no way to get my question answered on how to re-enter a Product Key without doing the uninstall as suggested in the Genuine Microsoft Software message.  I think Microsoft has become of a company of "no names" and only lots of information but no help.

  • The Windows 7 update will start out as [i]voluntary[/i] but it will soon become [i]mandatory[/i] -- isn't that correct?

    First of all, validating whether a Windows 7 installation during registration is reasonable.  There is no particular reason that the customer would object.

    However, there is no excuse for revalidating a genuine installation every 90 days.  Why would someone who has purchased a genuine, unregistered copy of Windows 7 on its release CD-ROM want to install a [i]pirated[/i] copy of it subsequently??

    The more that I think about this matter, among others concerning Microsoft and it policies and practices, as well as its products, the more inclined I am to do business with some other firm.    

  • Vargr
    2 Posts

    Yes M$$$$$$, let the people who really own your OS's know when you are going to pull this stunt, that way we can block it.

  • Vargr
    2 Posts

    To me this is illegal. When we buy something it belongs no longer to the seller but to the one who buys it. Make a more secure OS, fill the massive holes in your browser, make a lockout installed into the CD/DVD OEM to allow only one key period per CD. You are your own worst enemy M$.

    If and when I buy a new OS from you, I always turn your autoupdates off, now I see that will not be enough. I will be sticking with XP or moving to a different platform. Not even Apple is this bad, and I had thought they were the worst when it comes to telling us what we can and cannot have on our computer.

  • Potoroo
    1 Posts

    "I’d like to stress that the Update is voluntary,"

    I'm very glad about this in light of the false positive I got on my bought direct from Microsoft and activated W7 Pro x32 last night.  Fortunately, I'm experienced enough not to panic and sure enough when I checked Control Panel > System it said W7 was activated.

    Since MS has never been able to get Windows authentication checks working properly - have you people learned nothing from the XP/WGA debacle? - I have absolutely no confidence it will get this right either.  So I'll be avoiding it like the plague it is and recommending the same to anyone who will listen.  We don't need protection from pirates, we need protection from Microsoft.

  • Tommyinoz
    46 Posts

    Have you seen the ridiculous prices Microsoft charge for Windows 7?  Given that Windows 7 is not a revolutionary OS and it is only better in some ways and worse in other ways compared to XP.  It's easy to see the biggest contributor to piracy is Microsoft themselves.  

  • @Joe Williams

    pls let d original software users no before takin n action...

  • Hey guys,

    Seems d officials din think abt all the aspects or rather reply to d quarries of d users up ahead. So i don think i need to rite ne of ma questions here... all is asked..???

    so wat does Microsoft say abt this????

  • Quiet
    1 Posts

    Why does it need to phone home every 90 days?

    Also, years ago MSFT said it's Windows prices took into account the amount of piracy that was in the market. I hope after this technology is proven, we'll see a price drop?

    How about MSFTs put its money where it mouth is a drops the price of windows to show some level of faith in their own anti-piracy technology. If you don't drop the price, you may gain additional revenue but you'll never win the hearts and minds of the consumer/IT professionals as they will see this as a money grab.

  • bws3
    1 Posts

    So what's the KB number when this comes out?  And on what day?

    I want to be sure to block it.  I don't need any more Windoze spyware on my machine.

  • <i>Media Surveillance downloaded 500 cracked copies of Windows 7 and found 32% contained malware, so what?  Anyone downloading a cracked copy of any software should expect it to contain malware.  According to PC Advisor last month, Microsoft claimed it sold 60 million Windows 7 licenses (www.pcadvisor.co.uk/.../index.cfm).  160 infected copies of [cracked] Windows is hardly justification to have my legal copy of Windows phone home to make sure its still legal.  WAT doesn't protect the consumer, and it won't stop piracy.  People who use a cracked version of Windows will just get another cracked version when you 'downgrade' their copy.</i>

    This isn't saying only 500 illegal copies existed. They're saying that out of the 500 they downloaded, 32% contained some type of malware. The illegal copies likely run into the millions.

  • rp192
    1 Posts

    I don't understand.

    Are you saying that my genuine, authenticated and activated Windows 7 can some how turn into a pirated version?

    Or are you saying that you aren't really sure my windows was valid and authenticated before and need to check on it EVERY 90 DAYS because you don't trust your earlier results?

    How is this possible?

  • This is such a nice concept of adding automatic update components in window7 . Now one can easily update his/her window whenever needed.

  • jcubed
    1 Posts

    Media Surveillance downloaded 500 cracked copies of Windows 7 and found 32% contained malware, so what?  Anyone downloading a cracked copy of any software should expect it to contain malware.  According to PC Advisor last month, Microsoft claimed it sold 60 million Windows 7 licenses (www.pcadvisor.co.uk/.../index.cfm).  160 infected copies of [cracked] Windows is hardly justification to have my legal copy of Windows phone home to make sure its still legal.  WAT doesn't protect the consumer, and it won't stop piracy.  People who use a cracked version of Windows will just get another cracked version when you 'downgrade' their copy.

    Do me a favor and stop trying to 'protect' me from piracy.  

  • Bitzie
    12 Posts

    Excuse me but no.

    Enough is enough.  I run a tight ship here.  I scan for malware.  Microsoft, I'm sorry, you don't get the right to run period validations of my Windows 7s in my office every 90 days.

  • _dj
    3 Posts

    Once verified that it's valid, why continue to check every 90 days.  It doesn't sound like the customer is who you really care about...but sounds rather arrogant that you can use someone's CPU at will.  Everyone sees through the spin...just be honest and tell the truth.

  • _dj
    3 Posts

    I don't understand why after you verify my copy is genuine, that you need to burn CPU cycles and waste network bandwidth every 90 days just to see that I'm still valid.  Why would it stop being valid? It's either valid or it isn't.  Please STOP saying you heard from customers and that it's to protect us.  Lie.  No corporate people tell the truth anymore.

  • _dj
    3 Posts

    I don't understand why after you verify my copy is genuine, that you need to burn CPU cycles and waste network bandwidth every 90 days just to see that I'm still valid.  And then 90 days later, and then on and on.  It's either valid or it isn't.  Please STOP saying you heard from customers and that it's to protect us.  Lie.  No corporate people tell the truth anymore.

  • It would be nice if Microsoft would add an optional activation method like a concurrent activation limit tied to a Windows Live ID (or similar). For people like me that swap out hardware and reformat frequently, it would be quicker and easier to sign in and deactivate the previous install ourselves rather than call MS and repeat a bunch of numbers back and forth.

  • It would be nice if Microsoft would add an activation method such as concurrent activations tied to a Windows Live account (or similar).  It would be a lot easier for me to just deactivate the previous installation myself rather than call MS, since I swap out hardware and reformat frequently.

  • macwest
    1 Posts

    Let me see if I understand this update every 90 days my computer will call microsoft to validate. Why?  and what happens if I do not want my computer connected to the internet? Does it become invalid? or do I have to phone redmond every 90 days to reactivate. sounds like a headache.

    I am an avid windows fan but to me when I buy something and prove it is mine  I should not have to keep re-proving it is mine. To me XP still beats windows 7, grant you windows 7 is better then vista but, as a developer, windows 7 sure has many drawbacks I still can not overcome and if this is how windows 7 will act my next move would be to linux.

  • Windows installations marked as "non-genuine" can download only certain Windows Updates considered critical. So the end result of being marked non-legitimate is that your OS will start constantly changing your desktop background, bombarding you with annoying pop-ups warning you about your status, and render you unable to access many updates.  

    I don't know about you, but that sounds like 'alter[ing] your Windows install' to me.

  • This would be a good idea if...

    Microsoft had the infrastructure for end users to contact MS by telephone, not email because we may not have internet connection at the time of need, to complain if we have been marked as illegal when we are not.

    I fear this is another instance of overtrading. Trying to pretend the company can support all its customers without the where-with-all to do it.

  • This would be a good idea if...

    Microsoft had the infrastructure for end users to contact MS by telephone, not email because we may not have internet connection at the time of need, to complain if we have been marked as illegal when we are not.

    I fear this is another instance of overtrading. Trying to pretend the company can support all its customers without the where-with-all to do it.

  • Sounds like Microsoft is finally listening.  It appears it won't alter your Windows install in any way...just warn you you have a pirated copy.  It seems to be directed at OEMs who are using pirated versions of Windows and selling them as genuine as opposed to the end users.

    If I have that all correct...thanks.

  • So let me get this straight.  Say I purchase a genuine copy of Windows 7.  Later, through no fault of my own, my cd-key/serial/etc is hacked or stolen by a third-party, and becomes available on the internet.  It is used by hundreds of individuals and is added to Microsoft's list of compromised licenses.  The next time WAT checks, it will appear that I have a pirated copy of Windows 7, my OS will be 'dowgraded.'  This is ridiculous.

    Checking that a license has not been compromised is useful during the initial install or activation process.  This prevents compromised keys from being used on more and more machines.  However, it sounds like this new system can easily invalidate installs that were initially authentic.  Pirates will just move onto a new license key.  The only people this system will hurt are the original customers who legitimately bought Windows and will suddenly find themselves running an 'illegal' copy. The pirates will keep pirating, and the paying customers will have another reason to avoid Microsoft products.

  • Very interesting!  Good to see Microsoft is on top of counterfeit copies of Windows 7.