Microsoft working on new Windows 8 activation protection

By Tom Warren, on 5th Apr 11 11:00 am with 20 Comments

Microsoft is preparing a new version of its OEM BIOS activation for use in Windows 8, WinRumors has learned.

The protection allows PC makers and system builders to pre-activate copies of Windows for use on their hardware. OEM BIOS activation (OA) was originally introduced with Windows XP. Microsoft shipped OA version 2.0 with Windows Vista.

The software giant is now readying OA version 3.0 for Windows 8. According to sources familiar with the company’s plans, Microsoft is working on a key new technology that will enable it to protect against activation hackers. Illegal copies of Windows have been widely circulated thanks to mechanisms created to bypass Microsoft’s OEM activation certificates. Windows Vista and Windows 7, which both rely on OA version 2.0, have fallen victim to activation cracks and bypass methods. In July 2009, months before its release, Windows 7 was fully cracked and activated with an OEM master key. Microsoft is keen to avoid the same cracks with Windows 8.

It’s not yet clear how the company plans to protect against OEM BIOS hacks. Zukona, known for previous authentic Windows information, has claimed that recent builds of Windows 8 include OA 3.0.

Microsoft is believed to be working on a Metro design user interface for Windows 8. Leaked screenshots, posted earlier this month, also show a flattened Metro UI interface codenamed “Aero Lite”.  The screenshots show a flattened interface consistent with Microsoft’s Metro UI. Rumors suggest that Microsoft will create a dual-UI for Windows 8. A tile-based “Immersive” user interface will reportedly be included and make use of a Metro style UI.

The software giant is also planning its own Time Machine feature named “History Vault”. The feature will allow Windows 8 users to backup files and data automatically using the Shadow Copies function of Windows. According to one person familiar with the company’s plans, the backup feature will include the ability to restore to a specific time or date on the system. Users will also be able to select files and restore them to different timestamps.

Microsoft has so far been extremely quiet on the Windows 8 front. Windows Chief, Steven Sinofsky, took to the stage at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January to introduce a technology preview of Microsoft’s Windows ARM support and show off an early build of Windows 8. Microsoft is partnering with ARM-based manufactures NVIDIA, Qualcomm and Texas Instruments to produce new Tablet devices.

Microsoft has started to distribute Windows 8 builds to key OEM partners via its Connect testing site. The company has distributed build 7971.0.110324-1900 to OEMs in a special invite only “Windows 8 and Server vNext Pre-Release Program.”

  • Anonymous

    Stop calling it a “Time Machine feature”. History Vault is a rebrand and slightly improved version of Shadow Copy (aka Previous Versions). Shadow Copy was actually out in Vista, way before Time Machine. Time Machine pales in comparison to Shadow Copy as it doesn’t support the copy on write technology that NTFS offers.

    Obviously Shadow Copy wasn’t successfully promoted since nobody (even in the tech world) seems to have heard of it, hence the rebrand.

    • Anonymous

      Thank you!
      I’ve been wondering why this is such a frequent topic of discussion among Windows 8 rumor articles lately. The feature has been around virtually forever and I’ve personally used it since Windows Vista came out in 2006. Maybe Microsoft is going to design a more user-friendly UI around it, but the functionality is already easy to use and has been present in Windows for at least 5 years.

    • bernard

      I’ve used it also. It’s been a lifesaver.

    • Edwin Rodriguez

      I’ve used it ever since Vista. I just used it a few days ago. It’s a great feature that no one knows exists lol

  • Asdas

    Aww crap, no more cracks for windows 8

    • Dansgalaxy

      Lets see how long that lasts for, hackers are clever bastards. lol

  • Gaurish Sharma

    why waste time? it will be hacked sooner or later. they should focus on building some new cool features

    • Anonymous

      It’s not one or the other. Things can happen in parallel. There is more than one person working on Windows 8, y’know.

    • Sebastian Gsellmann

      Well thats the wrong approach. Thats like saying, car makes shouldn’t waste time installing seat belts or air bags because they know people will still die in car crashes. In both cases, the manufacturer is taking the responsible approach.

  • Anonymous

    That means we will see system with a BIOS again? What about EFI? Will the manufacturers ever move to that newer standard?!

    • Daikaiju

      All of the Sandy Bridge (1155 socket) motherboards I’ve seen available use EFI. So it seems, thankfully, we are finally seeing a move away from the BIOS.

    • Anonymous

      Sounds promising. Thx for the info!

  • Rcritkens

    by learned, u mean red on twitter from Zukona?!/sp3ciali5t/status/55174651252441088

    • Tom W

      Yes, if you notice in the article both Zukona and that tweet are mentioned…!

  • GP007

    If WIn8 is as solid and good as Win7 I have no problem buying a OEM copy of 64bit. Hell I’m still on 32bit, so I think I’ll make the jump to 64bit with Win8, then get some more RAM.

    • Anonymous

      32 bit isn’t licensed differently than 64bit, your cd key will install either.

    • Baihuigau

      Keep in mind terms have changed for the windows 7 oem installs, you cant do it for a new pc anymore it has to be on a new pc thats to be sold, so if you use it on a new pc for yourself or your current pc microsoft considers thats copy a illegal version of windows.

  • Chris123NT

    Very interesting, wonder what they are doing exactly to prevent the loader hacks

  • Niklasnagler

    As long we are not talking about some hardware chip that stops a windows hack i really can not see how software can prevent a activation hack . Any code can be hacked it is just a mater of time and money . Cracking Windows is a must in the Hack community microsoft knows this but they keep trying. LOL

  • Hack

    UEFI is well over-rated.
    UEFI based on the foundation of the bios will never boot as quick as a bios.
    Intel the pioneer of the EFI system just does not have a quick enough firmware hub.
    Most older Win 7 Server 2008 R2 install Media will not install to UEFI. You will need to manually fix the install media and just when you have it all figured out you find that most raid like the Intel Rapid Storage Technology does not support booting from > 2TB Array.
    For now GPT Boot disk is a problem if you use most backup software.
    Just buy a drive less than 2TB to boot from and stick to the old Bios