Microsoft removing 'kill switch' from Windows Server 2008

Matching Vista move, reduced-functionality feature won't be used in new server OS

Lost amidst Microsoft's announcement on Monday that it will relax an antipiracy mechanism in Windows Vista was the news that the company plans to drop the same "kill switch" from its upcoming Windows Server 2008 operating system.

In early versions of Windows Server 2008, Microsoft has been testing a reduced-functionality-mode feature, similar to the one already built into Vista, that is designed to render an operating system unusable if a customer doesn't activate it with a valid software license key within 30 days of installation.

But Microsoft said this week that it plans to deactivate the reduced functionality mode in the Service Pack 1 update for Vista, even while it beefs up other features aimed at blocking users from activating counterfeit copies of Windows.

The software vendor will also remove the reduced functionality mode from Windows Server 2008 when it releases that operating system in the first quarter of next year, according to a posting Tuesday on the Windows Server Division WebLog by Julius Sinkevicius, a Microsoft product manager.

Instead, as with Vista SP1, users with copies of Windows Server 2008 that haven't been activated will get "clear and prominent notifications" that their software needs to be activated, Sinkevicius said.

The harshness of the reduced functionality mode has been criticized by users and analysts, partly because of claims that Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA), Microsoft's activation and validation service, has mistaken legitimate users for software pirates -- contentions that Microsoft has said are overblown. In addition, a software upgrade snafu caused WGA to fail validation checks on legitimate Vista and Windows XP users during a 19-hour period in August, a meltdown that prompted Microsoft to take a series of steps aimed at preventing similar incidents in the future.

In his blog posting, Sinkevicius also confirmed that as part of Microsoft's new Software Protection Platform technology, large corporate users of Windows Server 2008 will no longer be using WGA to activate their software. Instead, they will utilize one of the activation methods that Microsoft supports via its Volume Activation 2.0 tools.

Those options include a key management service (KMS) that is designed to be installed and run on corporate servers, and multiple activation keys (MAK) that can be used to activate a preset number of Windows licenses via the Internet. The KMS technology is aimed at large customers, while smaller ones are expected to use the MAK approach.

Volume Activation 2.0 replaces Microsoft's first generation of volume activation software, which involved issuing a single volume license key for each product, no matter how many copies of the software a company planned to run. Moreover, those keys didn't need to be checked against a Microsoft server to validate installations of the software. That made the keys easier for pirates to get a hold of and redistribute.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Eric Lai

Computerworld
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?