Windows Genuine AdvantageUsers who have gone over the edge and somehow obtained a non-purchased version of Microsoft Vista were met with a problem – copies which failed registration through the Windows Genuine Advantage program were faced with losing a majority of system functionality – basically rendering your system inoperable. Microsoft called it “Reduced Functionality Mode.

With the forthcoming update ‘SP1′ for Vista, Microsoft announced today that their ‘Anti-Piracy Approach’ is changing. Microsoft instead will now provide what amount to “Nag Messages” informing you that your copy of Vista is not legitimate and they should purchase a registration key. According to Microsoft’s Michael Sievert, Corporate Vice President, Windows Product Marketing,

“Although our overall strategy remains the same, with SP1 we’re adjusting the customer experience that differentiates genuine from non-genuine systems in Windows Vista and later in Windows Server. Users whose systems are identified as counterfeit will be presented with clear and recurring notices about the status of their system and how to get genuine. They won’t lose access to functionality or features, but it will be very clear to them that their copy of Window Vista is not genuine and they need to take action.

This is a change in tactics from our current approach for Windows Vista, and it is based on great feedback from customers and partners. With the original release-to-manufacturers version of Windows Vista we released in November 2006, counterfeit systems can go into a state called reduced functionality mode, which essentially suspends a number of features of the system until the user takes action to get genuine.

Our new tactic, which takes effect with SP1 for Windows Vista and also will be part of Windows Server 2008, due out next year, is a proven and effective way to combat piracy. Customers want to know the status of their systems, and how to take action if it turns out they were victimized.

It’s worth re-emphasizing that our fundamental strategy has not changed. All copies of Windows Vista still require activation and the system will continue to validate from time to time to verify that systems are activated properly. What is changing with SP1 is the nature of the experience for those systems that are never activated or that fail validation.”

Video: Vista Reduced Functionality Mode

Here’s a video clip from Microsoft reviewing the “Reduced Functionality Mode”

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