It was only a matter of time before methods designed to illegally circumvent the antipiracy measures in Windows 7 made their way into the wild. And, in this regard, the latest iteration of the Windows client joins its predecessors, for which a consistent collection of leaked volume keys, key generators (keygens), hacks, cracks and activation bypass techniques, including those targeting OEM activation, is already available from various sources, for those that know where to look. Now, Windows 7 users can also take their pick of fresh items from the bazaar of activation cracks, and illegally prolong the life of the operating system without activating the product, and of course without buying a license, for that matter.
Ways around the antipiracy protections built into Windows 7 have already been documented, with some techniques even automating the process of bypassing activation altogether. Automated Windows 7 hacks are designed to let users circumvent the activation process with little or no effort on their part. Cracks can, in this context, be run like any other executable, and produce a fully functional, albeit non-genuine, copy of Windows 7.
Microsoft’s repeated warnings that users dealing with pirated software expose themselves to the risk of infection, virtually handing over their computers, privacy and sensitive data to attackers, have failed to truly resonate with pirates. Unaware of the hidden costs of pirated Windows 7 used in combination with various activation circumventing techniques, many users do not hesitate when it comes down to illegally running the OS.
Two of the most prominent methods to bypass Windows 7 activation, RemoveWAT and Chew-WGA, are designed to remove and disable the platform’s Windows Activation Technologies (WAT) via a similar process, according to a third-party source, which we will not link to because it provides links to download Windows 7 activation cracks, as well as to additional examples of pirated software and illegal bypass methods. Microsoft itself has already come across the Windows 7 activation workarounds and has indicated that it will tackle the problem. "We're aware of this workaround and are already working to address it," a Microsoft representative revealed to News.com.
Neither RemoveWAT nor Chew-WGA activate Windows 7 per se. Instead, the process is circumvented altogether, in which case, the operating system no longer requires a product key to run. Under normal conditions, Windows 7 offers end users a grace period of 30 days, in which the OS can be run as trial software. Initial grace can be prolonged up to 120 days with the slmgr /rearm command, but, at the end of those 120 days, customers are still required to enter a product key and activate Windows 7 in order to continue using it. RemoveWAT and Chew-WGA essentially cut off access to the Software Protection Platform (SPP) and to the Software Licensing Client (SLC), Windows Activation technologies responsible for dealing with licensing and activation.
In this manner, RemoveWAT and Chew-WGA kill Windows 7 activation, keeping the operating system in the initial grace period indefinitely. While it is in trial-mode, Windows 7 delivers full functionality to end users, and behaves identically to a genuine and activated copy, allowing pirates to enjoy the same range of benefits as legitimate customers, but without paying a single cent. Such benefits include access to components, content and software reserved for genuine Windows users and the ability to download and install all the security updates offered by Microsoft.
Of course, this is not the first time Microsoft has come across Windows activation workarounds. In fact, a hack making use of the same concept of bypassing activation by keeping the operating system in initial grace was offered for Windows Vista following the January 2007 release. It was only a year later that Microsoft killed the Grace Timer Crack with the release of the first service pack for Vista. At this point in time, the Redmond company offers no indication as to when it plans to take on the new Windows 7 activation workarounds available in the wild. However, given the impact that generalized changes to the activation technologies can have on all Windows 7 users, the software giant is bound not to rush antipiracy solutions along and render useless RemoveWAT and Chew-WGA, and the workarounds they are designed to set in place.