Microsoft Windows Advantage validation cracked in under 24 hours

There are some red faces in Redmond this weekend following the discovery that Microsoft’s much-vaunted Windows Advantage programme could be defeated with a simple piece of JavaScript. The code, which appeared on a number of sites throughout the Internet, appeared within 24 hours of Windows Advantage going live.

The JavaScript, which has been posted on various websites, simply prevents the Windows advantage checker from being installed.

Microsoft has emphasised that the JavaScript poses no security threat or puts customers at risk. Nevertheless, the company has moved to fix the workaround and when we checked it the code no longer worked.

This is not the first time that the security around Windows Advantage has been compromised. Several months ago while the system was still in beta, a security researcher Debasis Mohanty in India found that the validation tool could be fooled into believing the copy of Windows had already been checked as genuine.

The Windows Genuine Advantage system, which was officially launched last week after months of testing, is intended to weed out the bootleg copies of Windows from the official ones.

By offering ‘free’ software and upgrades worth, by Microsoft’s estimation, around $450, only to those copies of Windows which passed a validation test, Microsoft was hoping to not only reward those customers who had paid for their software but to encourage those running pirate copies to buy the real thing. The only exceptions being security upgrades that are available to all Windows users.

Piracy is a serious issue to Microsoft, particularly in the far east where it is endemic. In a speech last week, Steve Ballmer noted that piracy levels in China were well over 90 per cent.

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