Vista activation cracked by brute force

The activation method used by Microsoft to protect its new operating system Vista from being pirated has been cracked according to reports.

As reported on, the activation mechanism was cracked using brute force methods.

Using a powerful enough computer, such as one needed to actually run Windows Vista properly, a user can run through 20,000 different keys an hour until the script finds a key that works. The script is a modified version of the original software license manager script file, available on the internet.

One reader of the website reported that in five hours they had managed to find three legitimate keys. A disclaimer on the site from the program's developer urged people not to sell keys that they generate.

"I do not support piracy, this was simply an experiment in which I used to practice my Visual Basic scripting. This was just for fun and was a complete accident! Sorry for cracking your beautiful operating system Bill Gates," wrote the keygen developer. The developer of the script urged people to purchase a genuine copy of Vista and not break the law.

The program could reveal keys that are already in use by legitimate customers or keys in copies of Vista yet to be sold. License keys can only be re-activated so many times before they stop working.

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Rene Millman

Rene Millman is a freelance writer and broadcaster who covers cybersecurity, AI, IoT, and the cloud. He also works as a contributing analyst at GigaOm and has previously worked as an analyst for Gartner covering the infrastructure market. He has made numerous television appearances to give his views and expertise on technology trends and companies that affect and shape our lives. You can follow Rene Millman on Twitter.