Microsoft to disable Vista 'kill switch'

The company will remove the function designed to combat counterfeiting in Service Pack 1, following customer complaints
Written by Marcus Browne, Contributor on

Windows Vista's "kill switch" function will be disabled by Microsoft after customer complaints that legitimate copies of the operating system were identified as counterfeit copies.

The function will be removed with Microsoft's first major update to the operating system, Windows Vista Service Pack 1 (SP1).

The "kill switch" tool was designed as a counterfeiting deterrent by Microsoft, identifying counterfeit systems and locking them in a so-called "reduced functionality mode".

As an anti-piracy measure it will be replaced by a fix to the OEM BIOS exploit — a loophole allowing counterfeiters to feign the activation procedure necessary to install and run Vista.

In a statement released yesterday, the software giant said: "The company is making changes in how it differentiates user experiences for genuine and counterfeit systems, based on feedback from customers and partners."

Vista SP1 will also include a cautionary message to users of counterfeit systems: "Users whose systems are identified as counterfeit will be presented with clear and recurring notices about the status of their system and how to get genuine. They won't lose access to functionality or features, but it will be very clear to them that their copy of Window Vista is not genuine and they need to take action," said Michael Sievert, Microsoft's corporate vice president for Windows product marketing, in a statement. The SP1 update is due for release early in 2008.

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