Microsoft might want to comb BitTorrent trackers for leaked copies of Office 2010 Release Candidate and build anti-piracy protection in the next iteration of the productivity suite ahead of RTM to kill the illegal methods already designed and implemented to circumvent activation. Hackers have already managed to bypass the activation mechanism of Office 2010 RC Build 14.0.4734.1000 and are distributing leaked versions of the next iteration of the Office System that do not require end users to enter a product key, but also cracks accompanied by documented details on how to illegally activate the product.
One of the leaked copies of Office 2010 is not the Retail flavor that Microsoft made available for download to members of the Technology Adoption Program. The volume licensing (VLK) edition of Office 2010 RC has made its way on various torrent and warez websites. The difference between the VLK and Retail editions of Office 2010 is that while the latter requires testers to enter a product key before actually installing the product, the first can be deployed even without a serial number. Both 32-bit (x86) and 64-bit (x64) flavors of Office Professional 2010 RC, Project Professional 2010 RC, and Visio 2010 RC released via the volume licensing (VL) channel have been leaked.
In addition, hackers have put together a crack which involves using files from an activated version of Office 2010 Beta in order to bypass the activation process of Office 2010 RC. According to the information accompanying the crack, the illegal bypass method works by swapping the tokens.dat and pkeyconfig-office.xrm-ms files from a Retail edition of Office 2010 RC which wasn’t activated with those from a Beta release of the product which can easily be activated with one of the product keys provided by the Redmond company.
In order to pull the hack off, users also need a script authored by ‘SoLoR’ and follow a rather extensive, but not extremely difficult set of steps well documented on various blogs and forums in the wild. Reports from third-parties that have played around with the leaked and cracked copies of Office 2010 indicate that hackers also managed to remove the expiration deadline set by Microsoft for the pre-release software. Essentially, the leaked Office 2010 RC VLK and cracked Retail editions can be run forever, as hackers have defeated the time-bomb and activation mechanisms built into the product.