A number of people have asked me about the BIOS emulation crack for Vista that allows the proper activation channels to be bypassed. Here's my take on this latest crack attack.
First off, I have to say that this is one clever crack. I mean, extracting the OEM certificates and then emulating the BIOS. That's pretty clever. But it also goes to show how sloppy (or overconfident) Microsoft was when it came to handling how OEM systems are activated. Microsoft gave the OEMs a shortcut and the crackers picked up on it and used it. If Microsoft is this sloppy when it comes to their own intellectual property, draw your own conclusions when the subject is security.
But no matter how clever this crack is, it's ultimately doomed to being picked up on and disabled by WGA. Not only does it seem tied to specific product keys (and we already know that Microsoft can deliver WGA updates directly to systems running certain keys), but it also relies on installing software drivers to emulate the BIOS. That kind of hack is so not going to go underneath the radar. Yeah, sure, Microsoft is going to lose a few bucks to this crack where people can avoid updates and such, but a a wide-scale piracy tool, it's doomed. Anyone buying a pirated copy of Vista is eventually going to get a nasty surprise.
All this does is give Microsoft another chance to tighten WGA and make things harder for legitimate users.