WinInfo Daily UPDATE, March 19, 2007: Vista Activation Can Be Postponed Almost Indefinitely

- Vista Activation Can Be Postponed Almost Indefinitely
- Microsoft Reveals "Halo 3" Pricing, Packaging



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- Vista Activation Can Be Postponed Almost Indefinitely
- Microsoft Reveals "Halo 3" Pricing, Packaging

by Paul Thurrott, [email protected]

Vista Activation Can Be Postponed Almost Indefinitely

This week, Brian Livingston, my "Windows Vista Secrets" co-author, revealed that Windows Vista includes a registry key that lets users postpone product activation almost indefinitely. Normally, Vista must to be activated within 30 days of installation; after that time, the OS slips into a reduced-functionality mode.

Brian charges that product activation was designed almost solely to prevent individuals from installing a single copy of Windows on more than one PC and does nothing to prevent mass piracy. He notes that Vista's product activation is even less effective than the version of the technology used in previous Windows versions and could result in unscrupulous PC makers unleashing unlimited numbers of pirated versions of Vista on unsuspecting customers.

What's interesting about Brian's technique is that it's not a hack or an exploit, but rather utilizes a known Vista registry key that Microsoft documents on its support Web site. Users can extend Vista's activation countdown by 30 days by changing the value of this key, and it would be easy to automate the process, ensuring that the countdown is reset regularly so that the OS would never need to be activated.

Upon investigation, Brian discovered that Microsoft included the registry key so that its biggest corporate customers can work around onerous new volume licensing requirements that require them to set up special servers for managing product keys. This policy was put in place to prevent the kind of volume license key abuse that occurred during Windows XP's lifetime, Microsoft said.

To read more about this registry key, see Brian's write-up in the "Windows Secrets" newsletter.

Microsoft Reveals "Halo 3" Pricing, Packaging

There's still no word yet on when we can expect to see "Halo 3" this year, but late last week, Microsoft unveiled the pricing and packaging for the most eagerly awaited video game of the year. "Halo 3," which will ship as an exclusive title for the Microsoft Xbox 360 video game console sometime in 2007, will arrive in three versions, ranging in price from about $60 to $130.

The three versions are "Halo 3" Standard Edition, Limited Edition, and Legendary Edition. The Standard Edition package is identical to other Xbox 360 titles, includes just the game disc, and will retail for $59.99 in the United States. The Limited Edition includes a sleek metal collector's case and a bonus disc containing behind-the-scenes footage and videos. Limited Edition will retail for $69.99 in the United States.

Of course, true "Halo" fans will cast a jealous eye on the Legendary Edition, which will retail for a whopping $129.99. This version of the game includes the game disc, two bonus discs, and a collection of "Halo 3" storyboard art. But the big news with this version is the packaging: The Legendary Edition will ship in a collectible Spartan helmet case that you have to see to believe. I have photos of the Legendary Edition and Limited Edition packaging on the SuperSite for Windows.

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