How Vista Is Being Pirated – Stealing Product Keys From New Machines

Let me start by stating that this information is being provided for informational purposes only. My intention is not to condone piracy but merely to report what I have been told by others.

The first report I received was from a reader called ‘Don’ who’s comments I chose not to publish, since it was to explanatory and than two more emails from other associates who reported similar situations occurring. What struck me as odd, was that this information arrived all within a 24 hr. period. Second, the two associates who reported these incidents, are located in different areas of the US, west coast and east coast and don’t know each other.

Though the methods vary, the basics are these. Most retail stores such as Staples, Best Buy, Circuit City, CompUSA, Office Max and others, have new Vista computers on display. And most have both desktop and laptop systems in which the USB ports are either on the front of the unit or to the sides or back, as are with most laptops. This makes access to the USB ports easy.
Next, there are many software products that can be used to fetch product keys and product serial numbers from computer systems. Most of these software products are handy, especially when a user misplaces a CD case with the product key affixed, and who owns a illegitimate copy of Windows. I have had this happen to my clients who needed Windows reinstalled and who couldn’t find the CD case but had the Windows disk in a CD carrying case. You can do a Google search for the multitude of software products that are available to obtain keys.

Now combine these two, USB thumb drives and product key software. You can then obtain the product keys not only for Vista but also for other Microsoft products such as Office. And since some OEM’s have the Vista product numbers affixed to the case, stealing the numbers is easier than ever.

And going one step further, employees could steal corporate keys right from their employers computers, which do not require activation, and use them as many times as they wish. I also know that academic software from colleges are similar, not only for the operating system, but also for other installed products.

I know, you need admin. privileges to access this stuff. But give any computer savvy student 10 minutes or less on any box, and I guarantee they will get access, no matter how many safeguards are in place. This is not rumor, but unfortunately fact.

And this has been going on with Windows XP and now Vista.

Comments welcome.

By all means, marry. If you get a good wife, you’ll become happy; if you get a bad one, you’ll become a philosopher.
— Socrates

[tags]vista, microsoft, software, piracy, [/tags]