Microsoft has shed a little light on its approach to anti-piracy in Windows 7 and pledged to continued to fight software counterfeiting.
Commenting on its forward-looking approach, Microsoft's Alex Kochis, director of the company's Genuine Windows group, states that the highly-publicised Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) technology will be dropped in favour of Windows Activation Technologies (WAT).
WGA, an anti-piracy technology that first made its appearance in Windows XP, has been subject to large-scale criticism due to a number of mishaps. Back in 2007, WGA mistakenly accused legitimate Windows XP and Windows Vista customers of running counterfeit software and consequently forced their operating systems to run in reduced functionality mode.
WGA's replacement, dubbed WAT, is said to provide an activation experience based on that of Windows Vista SP1. "We built validation technology into Windows Vista from the beginning," says Kochis. "These components were new and were built for use in Windows Vista. The same components, though tuned up a bit, form the basis of our activation and validation technology in Windows 7. To better reflect this latest generation of technology we will refer to the activation and validation components in Windows Vista and Windows 7 by a new name, Windows Activation Technologies", he adds.
A subtle change of name that might, we reckon, help shake the air of bad publicity surrounding WGA. Hoping to emphasis WAT's new approach, Kochis adds:
"This time around, the software will do a better job of helping customers make decisions with confidence about which action to take. In Windows 7, we're being more descriptive about what Windows is actually doing and providing more information about what, if any, actions the user should take as a result."
The promise of more information and less nagging appears to be a common trend in Windows 7. According to Kochis, Windows 7 will become smarter over time via online updates that help protect against the latest activation exploits but it will also attempt to inform users without being deemed as annoying.
As one example, unactivated versions of an WGA-equipped Windows operating system are handed a 15-second delay during login, prompting users to activate immediately. In Windows 7, WAT will take a less obtrusive approach as the activation reminder will remain, but without the 15-second delay.
Microsoft also revealed that "up to a third of customers worldwide may be running counterfeit copies of Windows," and adds "our customers and partners have our pledge that as long as pirates keep trying to exploit Windows for their own ends, we'll be working to beat them through the technologies we develop and the programs we run to protect our customers, partners and Microsoft's intellectual property."