Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

Windows Server key leak

I just posted about how a product key for MS Windows Server 2003 has been leaked in LG B&B. For those of you not in the know, every legal copy of Windows comes with a unique Product Key on a Certificate of Authenticity (which may just be a holographic sticker on the side of your computer).
The key that has been leaked is a ‘corporate key’. Now, normal keys that you get with home computers require activation from Microsoft (via the controversial Windows Product Activation system), but corporate keys do not. They’re aimed at corporations with many computers, as it would be a bind having to activate every single computer individually.
So, if you get this key, you don’t have to go through activation. Big deal? Yes. If I was to reveal my product key, which requires activation, then after a few uses MS would get suspicious and block it. But with this leaked key, that won’t happen, because it doesn’t need activation.
The same thing happened with XP, and a Google search shows that the key is still rampant, even though it has been blocked so that SP1 won’t install on a machine with this key.
Basically, this is bad news for Microsoft. If this key becomes rampant, then they’re going to be missing out on a lot of cash. Not that they need it, of course, and I still think Windows is very over-priced when you consider what you get with Linux for free. No wonder some companies are now falling over themselves to move away from the Windows platform.
It’s likely that any future updates to WS2003 will refuse to install on machines using the leaked key, just as XP SP1 refused to install on any machine using one of the two leaked XP corporate keys.
Of course, you could always use Chris Pirillo’s product key, however, your milage may vary ;).
(Note: for the record, my copy of Windows XP is legally obtained and has been activated in the normal way)

One Comment

  1. this is bad news for Microsoft
    It’s bad news for them to not get paid. But it’s not bad news if their true goal is to get Windows onto as many computers as possible.