While Windows 7 has yet to reach Beta stage, the first workarounds to illegally activate this operating system are already available in the wild. Microsoft offered Windows 7 Ultimate pre-Beta Build 6801 to participants at its PDC 2008 and WinHEC 2008 events. The third major development milestone of Windows Vista's successor was subsequently leaked in the wild, with all the major torrent repositories offering access to the testing build. However, although in pre-Beta phase, Windows 7 still requires to be activated, and with the product keys delivered by the company at this year's PDC and WinHEC a tad more private than the actual pre-Beta bits, the first cracks for the operating system have been put together to deal with the activation process.
Acompanying leaked and still valid product keys, the Windows 7 activation cracks only manage to take the operating system beyond the initial grace period limitations. Since pre-Beta Build 6801 is just a taste of the next iteration of the Windows client delivered for testing purposes, the bits are time-bombed. Crack or no crack, Windows 7 Ultimate pre-Beta build 6801 is scheduled to expire in August 2009. Microsoft has already stated that plans are in place to start offering the first fully fledged Beta of Windows 7 in early 2009.
Still, the first hacks designed to bypass the normal activation process for Windows 7 indicate that the next version of the Windows client will follow in the tracks of its precursor. Despite the consistent anti-piracy measures built into the platform, Windows Vista activation cracks were made available hot, on the heels of the actual operating system. Vista came to the table with Reduced Functionality Mode, a mitigation designed to cut access to features and functionality for Vista copies detected as non-genuine.
Although present in Windows 7 Milestone 1, Reduced Functionality Mode has been, since then, scrapped completely from both Vista, with the release of Service Pack 1, and from Windows 7 in subsequent Milestone releases. It was not until one year after Vista RTM that Microsoft managed to deal with the OEM BIOS and Grace Timer cracks for Vista, and by the looks of the early Windows 7 activation workarounds, the company will continue to be forced to flex its anti-piracy muscles.