back to article Windows 7 Ultimate product activation hacked?

You could get a free (and illegal) copy of Windows 7 Ultimate if reports of a leaked OEM product activation key are accurate. According to MyDigitalLife, a leaked OEM copy of Windows 7 was posted to a Chinese forum, with the OEM's key then identified and snatched. An OEM activation key will unlock multiple copies, and it's …


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  1. James O'Brien

    Microsoft was unavailable for comment at the time of writing.

    Probably because they are too busy trying to figure out who leaked this.

    Or at a company feel good session....theres a thought Ballmer closing his eyes and falling backwards to be caught....oops my hands slipped :)

  2. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle


    So what?

    Have the volume PC builders *really* got stocks of pre-imaged systems sitting in warehouses ready to ship?

    If they haven't, surely all that needs to happen is that the leaked key gets revoked (just like they were with XP, dunno about Vista but who cares) and the legit system builders get legit replacements which they use to rebuild their system images ready for when Windows 7 really does start going through the factory. Sorted???

    Those with the dodgy OS and dodgy key find their Windows is useless the first time Winderz does a Windows Update with a WGA in it, or whenever the latest greatest Meejah Player update needs a WGA, or whatever.

    Where's the news here? Small earthquake in Stoke on Trent, no parrots injured?

  3. ElNumbre

    Yellow Pages.

    I wouldn't be surprised if Microsoft changes the locks within a few hours, revokes the leaked key, and makes Lenovo rebuild any currently mfrd machines with the new key and makes them pay a chunk of cash as 'make good' money.

  4. Anonymous Coward


    but it'll be invalidated at some point with a WGA update won't it?

  5. Nick 6
    Gates Horns


    People are going to 'jump' out of windows for this one....

  6. J 3
    Gates Horns

    Pardon me thickness...

    ...but wouldn't it be quite easy to inactivate this key, specially since copies haven't even been sent out to the OEMs yet? Then rogue installations would not pass Genuine Crapness activation or whatever, at least. Or so I understand, since my OS has no such thing.

  7. Charles 9 Silver badge

    How long do you think...

    ...before that key gets invalidated? Remember that, since Vista, Windows requires product activation or it starts going herky-jerky on you. I'm pretty sure Microsoft now knows that the key was leaked. It'll just prevent that key from allowing activation and perhaps taking Lenovo to task for allowing the key to get leaked.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    It works !

    On Windows7 Ultimate

    Though its nothing new.

    Vista was also hacked in exact same way.

    Bring on the snow leopard !

  9. Colin Wilson

    One small edit gives...

    "Downloading Windows exposes users to increased risks - such as viruses, Trojans and other malware and malicious code"

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "...exposes users to increased risks - such as viruses, Trojans and other malware and malicious code - that usually accompany counterfeit software."

    Not really. The vast majority of illegal stuff is actually fine to use. But then MS aren't going to say that.

  11. Dick Emery

    Where there is a way

    There is a hacker willing to do it. There is already a loader for it out that fools Windows 7 into thinking it's an OEM copy and will activate.

  12. Anonymous Coward


    The microsoft statement must have been issued by a junior member of staff... everyone knows that those statements are also meant to point out that piracy funds terrorism, and how much that costs the economy.

    A more experienced spokesperson would also manage to point out that piracy leads to climate change and thus pirates kill cute furry little creatures. And because it's microsoft, I'd expect a note pointing out that google aids these pirates and thus funds terrorism, etc.


  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What a shock!

    So Microsoft can not identify a computer that has been activated with a stolen OEM Serial?

    This just told everyone how to Pirate Windows 7!

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns

    "Windows 7... exposes users to... viruses, Trojans and other malware"

    Vista: so unloved that nobody wanted to crack its activation keys...

    WGA: Windows Give-Away?

    Ah, so much MS-bashing fun to be had...

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters


    Bugger me with a freshly shampooed hamster. Who'd have thought that the über secret activation system was already hacked for 7. Next it'll be their WGA system, if it isn't already.

  16. Goat Jam


    I wish MS would get their DRM act together. I mean they've been trying to lock out illegal copies for years and years and they still can't get it right. Of course I'm sure that they will eventually flag this particular key as hostile so that WGA can do it's thing, just like they did with the original leaked XP keys but by then there will be so many other ways to bypass WGA it will no longer be an issue.

    Why can't they get it right? A bulletproof anti-piracy scheme could be just the boost that the penguin needs!

  17. Anonymous Coward

    This is why MS loves freetards

    No Lenovo PCs have been sold with an install using this master key, and they are only due to be sold in 3 months' time. This means it's a trivial matter for MS to blacklist this key in WGA and issue Lenovo a new one (probably along with a hefty fine if they worded their contracts properly). Lenovo has ample time to reimage their drives with a new install. This key will activate a Win7 RTM install, but if MS has an ounce of sense they'll have WGA pull the killswitch on these installs in a few months' time.

    Luckily for MS, the Chinese kiddies who got hold of the ISO are either committed freetards looking for an Andy Warhol moment or too dumb to realise that they just pissed away the chance to make a bundle on the black market. If they'd held onto the key until just before Oct 22 they could have screwed MS royally with a fully-operational pirate version of Win7 available from release (if I recall correctly, the initial pirate Vista installs were using primitive methods like re-arming or 'frankenbuilds' which MS easily defeated).

    The real news here is that, despite all the hot air, MS is STILL using the same thoroughly-cracked SLIC method for its OEM installs as Vista despite the fact that this has been thoroughly cracked and (especially with a reflashed BIOS) makes it impossible to detect a pirated install. (A primary target for anti-piracy prosecutions has been 'white-box' OEMS who sell systems with a pirated OS, and these people certainly have the skills to reflash a BIOS, though MS has still failed to defeat the software SLIC loaders that are probably more common.) MS has had at least 2 years to come up with a new method of validating OEM installs and has failed *comprehensively*. While Win7 requires SLIC 2.1 in the BIOS, the old 2.0 certificates still work (!!!), indicating that very little has changed in the basic structure of their validation system.

    Anyone using this particular leaked key will probably get a nasty surprise once the WGA servers get updated for Win7, but it's only a matter of time until more master keys leak. In fact, they may already have done so, but were given to people willing to sit on them until it's too late for MS to blacklist.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No cracking involved

    It ain't "cracked" if someone has an OEM or Volume Licensing key, that's simple theft. Cracked would be when someone came up with a mechanism to generate new keys because they know Microsoft's algorithm. Typical scare tactic headlines and anti-MS uninformed bollox.

  19. C 2

    Hehe, just like last time

    and the time before that .. Lets see


    Server 2008

    Server 2003


    All pirated with activation cracked, broken and beaten into submission before the release date.

    The pirates always get the new stuff first. It is the paying customers that get punished though, over and over and over.

    Then MS STRONGLY advises people NOT to download from them.

    It was funny the first few times, now its just stupid.

    September 19th is talk like a pirate day, I'm just sayin maybe that should be Microsoft's release date for new products :)

  20. tony trolle

    they should just keep the pre-order priceing

    $50 for a copy is cool.

    $100 mmmmm ubuntu 4 me !~!!!

  21. Big-nosed Pengie


    "... and exposes users to increased risks - such as viruses, Trojans and other malware and malicious code - that usually accompany counterfeit software. These risks can seriously harm or permanently destroy data and often expose users to identity theft and other criminal schemes,"

    Yep. Sounds like Windows alright.

  22. Head


    "Downloading Windows 7 from peer-to-peer Web sites is piracy, and exposes users to increased risks - such as viruses, Trojans and other malware and malicious code - that usually accompany counterfeit software. These risks can seriously harm or permanently destroy data and often expose users to identity theft and other criminal schemes," the company said.


    Viruses, malware and malicious code only exists in Windows regardless of genuine software or not!

    Big noting yourself is so pointless M$.

  23. Anonymous Coward

    Wait, don't tell me...

    Windows 7 is even faster and more secure.

    Another badly designed P.O.S. OS from Microsoft is heading your way. It will almost certainly be compromised and infected within a fortnight.

    This will in no way be anything to do with Microsoft refusing point blank to learn from better systems (Unix/Linux) but will of course be down to those naughty hackers and those naughty terrorists.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's just obvious that Microsoft cracks itself everytime...

    Just like other companies do with their products. Instead of just not using DRM to spy on customers and limit their fair use of the products they paid for and knowing that a lot of people wouldn't just use Windows OS at current and upcoming insane prices with the disgusting WGA/WPA activation.... "the hacks" appear all of a sudden every single time. WPA and WGA get disabled/hacked/bypassed "by crackers" everytime. Well... there are people that believe in the urban myth of 12years old computer wizards able to crack obscure undocumented encrypted DRM code by guessing.... but the only truth is that all these "crackers" are just programmers undercover that are ordered to release the cracks to the public to ensure a mass adoption of the OS. That is just pretty obvious but the majority of people after so many years still believe in the viral marketing myth of little "hackers" kids...

  25. Alan W. Rateliff, II
    Paris Hilton

    Downloading != piracy

    Downloading the image of the OS is not piracy, dicks. Bypassing protection mechanisms and using it without authorization is. If you really gave two shits about the DVD/CDs being downloaded, why in the world would you put the product online for download in various forms (MSDN, TechNet, MAPS, VLK, etc.)???

    Get your shit straight, Microsoft.

    Paris, whatever, dick.

  26. Raspy32


    "and exposes users to increased risks - such as viruses, Trojans and other malware and malicious code "

    That's a bit rich coming from Microsoft, when they've been exposing users to this code for years with their sloppy programming....

  27. Steve ten Have

    Hell it's good and it's cheap!

    Just buy it. For once Microsoft are being sensible about their pricing structure and if we're being fair it's a pretty good product.

    I've been using it in an enterprise capactiy as well and it plays nice with 95% of apps. MS have got this one right - the best way to send the message to them is to buy it.


  28. Hugh_Pym

    Just let me fix that for you, microsoft

    Microsoft in a statement strongly advised customers not to download Windows 7 from unauthorized sources.

    I would add - or from authorized sources either.

  29. Anonymous Coward

    Run a commie O/S!

    If you run a "commie" or trendy O/S ( no names mentioned ) no need for keys, as no one is interested in ripping it off!

    Seriously what was MS estimate on how long they could keep the "corp" keys under wraps before release date? I am genuinely curious!

  30. Mickey Porkpies

    Windows 7 key

    Why would I want one I use linux???

  31. mikebartnz
    Jobs Horns


    Why don't they just give up on it as it is usually just an annoyance for legitimate owners.

  32. Stef 2

    A new crack?

    I have (ahem) seen a freely available utility that activates Windows 7 Ultimate and has a host of other features, such as easily switching off UAC, it's been regularly updated to keep pace with M$'s official and leaked releases - it works 100%.

  33. Anonymous Coward

    Badum tshhhhh!!

    "...harm or permanently destroy data and often expose users to identity theft and other criminal schemes"

    Yep that sounds like Windows. So what about pirate software?

  34. Balefire

    Business as usual then

    Microsoft make this big song and dance about how you must "activate" your copy of Windows, cram it full of DRM and tell everyone that you must buy a copy if you want to use it. Then they make the whole unique serial number activation scheme so weak that people find it easy to circumvent.

    Call me cynical but it seems to me that the whole thing is designed to ensure people run their OS and no other. Same when DOS & then Windows 3.x was released - OS/2 was copy protected and cost a fair chunk of folding, DOS & Win were not. So few people actually bought DOS & Win - they just installed a copy from their mates.

    Either make the activation scheme work and work properly, or get id of it altogether. Again, the only people inconvenienced are those mugs who actually part with money for it.

  35. Owain 2

    God Damn it!

    I jusr pre ordered my copy from amazon when i could have got it free!!

  36. N2 Silver badge

    Windows 7 should be free

    For anyone who has suffered under the monumental pile of dog poo that Vista is & had to replace it with XP & in some cases obtain another license.

  37. Dr. Mouse Silver badge

    DRM/WGA etc.

    Lets face it, all copy protection will be compromised eventually. Just like all encryption algorithms. In fact everything will be found to have some exploitable flaw sooner or later.

    In the end all these 'features' do is piss off the paying customers. Take, for example, games which refuse to work unless you have the disc in the drive. Why? I have paid for the game, and I don't want to have to hunt for the DVD every time I play it. I have plenty of HDD space, everything is installed anyway. Hence, even if I have paid for a game, I will download the no-cd crack. If I am doing that, why not just download the game?

    The more DRM shite they bundle on software, the less likely I am to buy it. Hence they would probably make MORE money if they just didnt bother.

    When you add to this that MS is known to, indirectly, make more money from pirate software than it looses (by maintaining it's "monopoly" instead of causing those who cant afford / don't want to pay move to alternative OS's), I could see MS actually releasing cracks themselves.

  38. Ian Emery Silver badge

    They never learn

    I bought genuine versions of Win95, Win98, Win98SE, and finally, WinXP; but after 4-5 "You need to register this copy" episodes for no good reason I said "FCUK IT!!", I downloaded a copy of TinyXP and never looked back.

  39. Rev. Ignatius Killfile

    They give it away.

    Microsoft will never get this WGA or DRM key thing right, it's not in their interest. Sure they what to sell you Windows.. Sure they want to tax you on your new PC. Ultimately they want MS Windows running on your PC whether or not it's a genuine copy. Think of the massive discounts they give to OEMs to keep windows on the desktop. Think of the massive discounts that they gave to governmental departments when the latter were thinking of switching to Linux.. Market share counts for too much.

    I'm a PC, I'm. a Mac, I'm a Slacker.

  40. copsewood


    "This will in no way be anything to do with Microsoft refusing point blank to learn from better systems (Unix/Linux) "

    Actually Microsoft have been learning from these more open systems for many years. Examples have included the Mach kernel, WIMP (x-Windows, Icon, Mouse, Pointer) interfaces, multi-user discretionary access control, preemptive multitasking and preventing applications from overwriting the address space of other applications. Of course those of us who use open systems instead of MS-Windows have had the benefits of these things years earlier. What Microsoft have not been learning very well so far is openness. As they become more reliant on GPL code (which they originally called "a cancer") due to the need to cooperate in order to compete within a world based upon open network standards (i.e. Internet), they are increasingly being forced into more openness to avoid being sued for GPL licensing violations.

    The other factor driving this is Microsoft's desire not to have anti-trust out of court settlements and fines imposed by courts increased by another order of magnitude. When they were spending $100M/year on this it wasn't affecting the bottom line. Now this is costing them closer to $1G a year, they need to keep the legal cost of abusing their monopoly position from going much higher.

  41. David Simpson 1
    Thumb Down

    WGA ! It's not XP people

    For all the people waffling about a WGA update, You are talking about XP, This OEM activation still works on Vista for the main reason that revoking keys for OEM activations could piss off alot of OEM customers.

    Microsoft doesn't care, they make the bulk of their cash from OEMs everything else just helps market share.

  42. David Simpson 1
    Thumb Down



    The program you speak of doesn't work anymore for activiation, and why the hell would you need a program to turn off UAC ? You can do it yourself with 3 clicks of a mouse.

  43. Apocalypse Later

    Free Windows 7

    Second prize, two free Windows 7s.

  44. Geoff Mackenzie

    A new concept on the intertubes from MS

    Peer to peer websites? Is this a Microsoft innovation? All my websites are client-server.

  45. The Fuzzy Wotnot

    Same old story....

    If you tell someone they "can't" have it, they want it even more!

    Take away the kudos of "cracking" your O/S to use it and where's the interest?

    MS only put DRM into keep the shareholders happy, no else benefits. The "pirates" take it for nothing, they know all the tricks. Legit users and companies, hate it, it hampers normal use.

  46. Sean Timarco Baggaley


    "Actually Microsoft have been learning from [Unix / Linux] for many years. Examples have included the Mach kernel, WIMP (x-Windows, Icon, Mouse, Pointer) interfaces, multi-user discretionary access control, preemptive multitasking and preventing applications from overwriting the address space of other applications"

    Check your facts. Seriously.

    Microsoft may not have invented those, but neither did Unix or its descendants. Example: Xerox's PARC may have produced the first well-known implementation of the WIMP paradigm, but the concept dates right back to the 1960s, before Unix had even been invented.

    Similarly, pre-emptive multitasking and decent memory management were not invented by Unix either. (And the BSD Mach kernel was the starting point for NeXTSTEP / OpenSTEP, better known today as Mac OS X. Windows, like Linux, is built on an older "monolithic kernel" design.)

    Unix and its descendants have been heavily influential in the internet and related networking fields; encouraged the view that hacked-together programs with appalling user interfaces are somehow a Good Thing, and also bears some responsibility for the undeserved ubiquity of the C family of programming languages today.

    (Oh yes: decent memory management requires a decent MMU. This is a piece of *hardware*, not software. You can fake most of it in code, but without that hardware support, it's never going to be as good.)

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    > "Downloading Windows 7 from peer-to-peer Web sites is piracy,"

    No it's NOT "piracy". It's copyright infringement.

    It's all well and good letting Microsoft get a comment in at the end of the El Reg article, but that doesn't mean you should just reprint any old shit that they spout.

    If Microsoft had said that downloading Windows 7 via P2P was 'murder', would you have printed such bullshit?

  48. Mike Gravgaard


    "Downloading Windows exposes users to increased risks - such as viruses, Trojans and other malware and malicious code"

    Doesn't it normally? I mean do genuine copies no longer have these problems.


  49. Shane 8
    Big Brother

    @ David


    The program you speak of doesn't work anymore for activiation, and why the hell would you need a program to turn off UAC ? You can do it yourself with 3 clicks of a mouse.


    On windows 7 you cannot turn off the UAC just turn it to low, i have tried..seems one of the main changes they did since vista (which it can be turned off).

    Also downloading a CD or getting a copy CD is not illegal just supplying the CD-Key is.

  50. Scott Mitchell

    I see the Lunix geeks are back

    Ah, the usual anti-Windows snipers appear!! Well well well.

    Why can't you nerds see? It doesn't matter how bad Windows gets, it's always going to be more popular than Linux. I could throw a turd into a room full of people, and it would be more popular than that pile of penguin FAIL, tbh.

    Windows 7 is fantastic - fast, smooth and easy to use like its predecessors. Hopefully it will increase Microsoft's market share and effectively kill off that geeky POS with the penguin.

    Can't wait to get my hands on DX11.

    In summation, Windows = WIN, Linux = FAIL


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