Sh1t has hit the fan again for Microsoft – pirates have managed to crack Windows 7 copy protection mechanism even before the OS’s official release. It’s nothing surprising though – everybody knew this was going to happen and it was just a question of when. Well that nagging question has now been answered. Windows 7 Ultimate RTM build 7600.16385 (which was leaked a few days ago) has been cracked and this time it’s not with a time stopper hack or a trial period re-arm workaround – the new exploit makes use of Microsoft’s OEM activation 2.1 to bypass WGA and pre activate illegitimate copies of Windows 7 even in offline mode.
They key used for activation seems to have leaked through a Chinese OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) distribution partner. As we Tweeted a few days ago, several OEM product keys were leaked online but these were immediately blocked by Microsoft so online activation was not possible. However it does not matter if the keys are blocked or not with the latest hack – activation bypass happens offline. The leaked DVD image gives pirates access to OEM-SLP (System-Locked Pre-installation) product key along with the OEM certificate for Windows 7 Ultimate via boot.wim file. I wouldn’t go into much detail about how the latest exploit works but it’s something similar to those BIOS emulation cracks that were hugely popular with Windows Vista. The hack seemingly works only with Windows 7 Ultimate. Pirates wouldn’t complain though – it’s the most featured filled Windows 7 edition out there yet.
We wouldn’t directly link to cracks or leaked product keys for obvious reasons but it’s a fact that they are now all over the internet, readily available for download. It’s safe to assume that warez community will keep improving the OEM hack and eventually more easy to use versions of it such as one click activators and pre-cracked editions will surface, taking Windows 7 piracy to the masses. It would now be interesting to see Microsoft’s next move. Maybe they’ll come out with a completely new WGA mechanism that hopefully would not be too intrusive than it already is. Maybe they’ll roll out a hotfix to detect and disable the OEM hack via Windows Update like they did for Windows Vista (with minimal success of course). Anyways right now it’s Pirates 1 and Microsoft 0. The battle continues…