An e-mail has been sent to a large Microsoft Windows Vista distributor entitled, "Pirated Vista — A darkness descends!" The e-mail, sent from a local Microsoft representative describes what users of unlicenced copies of Windows Vista can expect after the activation of Vista's 'Reduced Functionality' mode. ComputerWorld obtained a copy of this e-mail which describes how functionality is reduced for installations which are suspected of being pirate copies:
...Anyone who has a pirated copy of Vista will experience:
A black screen after one hour of browsing
No start menu or task bar
The e-mail goes on to explain that this feature has only just been activated by Microsoft, so issues will start to arise from now on. I'm not quite sure I agree with Rodney Gedda's opinion that this move proves Microsoft "still controls its software releases with an iron fist." Nor that "this marks the first global use of heavy-handed tactics for pirated copies of Windows." We have seen the Windows Genuine Advantage campaign disabling non-genuine copies of Windows XP in recent times; I wonder how long until we see cracks bypassing Vista's 'reduced functionality mode'? ZDNet already have a featured gallery describing how to get around reduced functionality in the short term...