It was bound to happen, but even Microsoft probably thinks this was a little quick. Those wacky pirates are at it again. After “cracking” Windows Vista, they are circulating the pirated version on the Internet.
It uses a volume license key, which means it does not require activation over the Internet. Basically, the hackers used code from the activation process for the Beta versions. While that works for now, it will not work for long.
Microsoft knows how they did it and they will fix it when they are ready. So these pirated downloads will be of limited use. Microsoft will certainly shut off the hacked software. Additionally, if one does download a pirated version of Vista, they may be getting more than they bargained for.
For example, many of the hacked versions one can download for “free” carry spyware and malware. Once you install them, your computer turns into a zombie, hooks you up to a botnet or installs a lovely rootkit.
So, remember, “free” is not always “free” ;).