Ed Bott of ZDNet has traveled to the dark side and has pirated Windows 7. For educational purposes, of course. I’ve always gotten a good deal on my software, and if I couldn’t afford it, I didn’t upgrade. My OS was usually the first purchase I made, and other software was either a generation behind or open source and free. I haven’t attempted to pirate a Microsoft OS in ages (XP, I think I did for fun – I had a legit license for XP Pro), but it looks like it is more difficult than ever, and a lot more risky. The malware and rootkit risk alone is enough to make me not want to attempt it. I always chalk the OS cost as part of a PC build along with the hardware, so it’s not too big of a deal. Others that are thinking of attempting to pirate their way into a copy of Windows 7 may want to read this article before you take the plunge. I don’t condone piracy, but I can’t stop anyone. I can only warn them of the dangers lurking out there!
If you do intend to try this stuff out for yourself, I recommend extreme caution. My hunt for utilities that bypass Windows 7 activation technologies led me to some very seedy corners of the Internet. First, I did what any red-blooded wannabe pirate would do and tried some Google searches. Of the first 10 hits, six were inactive or had been taken down. After downloading files from the remaining four sites, I submitted them to Virustotal.com, where three of the four samples came back positive for nasty, difficult-to-remove Windows 7 rootkits.