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Nerdy Photo in Vista DVDs Thwarts Disk Pirates 265

Posted by CowboyNeal
from the tiny-family-albums dept.
maximus1 writes "Microsoft says that the tiny photo on the Windows Vista Business Edition installation disks is an anti-piracy feature. The tiny photo of three grinning men — less that 1 mm in size — is one of several images incorporated into the hologram's design intended to make it harder to replicate a Vista DVD, according to Nick White on Microsoft's Vista team blog. 'The real story is interesting, but conspiracy theorists will be disappointed to learn that it is not the result of a deliberate attempt to deceive,' White wrote."
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Nerdy Photo in Vista DVDs Thwarts Disk Pirates

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  • by rufo (126104) * <rufo AT rufosanchez DOT com> on Thursday June 14, 2007 @07:23PM (#19513501)
    ...would Vista be pirated less or more?
  • that they are supposed t look for that to see of the copy they have is legit?

    And it only assumes the buyer cares.
    • by rufo (126104) *
      It's just like any other Microsoft disc. Who the hell besides a geek would actually know that Microsoft discs have shiny holograms on them?
    • by Saxerman (253676) * on Thursday June 14, 2007 @09:15PM (#19514321) Homepage
      There are a host of anti-counterfeit measures on currency. And for the most part the average consumer will neither know nor care, and just keep passing the stuff off as genuine. Yet the Fed certainly cares, and they are certainly looking for the stuff. Adding tiny anti-counterfeit designs doesn't make it harder to print fake currency, it makes it easier to identify the stuff as fake. So they can locate fake currency floating in the wild and hopefully trace it back to its source.

      Watermarks such as this are designed to prevent counterfeits, not piracy. There are large scale counterfeit operations designed to pass themselves off as legitimate software resellers. Considering the type of disc presses these organizations have access to these days, they can stamp some very authentic looking discs.

      The BSA and other such agents look out for these tiny missing features, so they know when and where to release the hounds.

      A mom and pop shop with a few extra installs than licenses is small potatoes. They group stamping 100s of thousands of discs in China and selling them as genuine in Europe are the big daddy potatoes.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by bkgood (986474)

        The BSA and other such agents look out for these tiny missing features, so they know when and where to release the hounds. A mom and pop shop with a few extra installs than licenses is small potatoes.
        I hope you aren't suggesting the hounds wouldn't be released on the mom and pop shop regardless -- easy money is easy money in the eyes of the BSA.
      • by Reverend528 (585549) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @11:15PM (#19515003) Homepage

        So they can locate fake currency floating in the wild and hopefully trace it back to its source.
        This works with money because it is circulated. Once bound to a host, vista cannot be reused.

        Watermarks such as this are designed to prevent counterfeits, not piracy.
        I have to wonder how many people will unknowingly buy a counterfeit version of windows. And how many that do are actually going to inspect their DVD for a 1mm image.
        • by Tim C (15259) on Friday June 15, 2007 @03:04AM (#19516113)
          No, Vista isn't circulated like currency, but counterfeit disks will still turn up in raids, seizures of smuggled cargo, etc.

          This isn't about stopping you or me from installing a pirated copy of Vista (knowingly or unknowingly), this is about making it that bit easier to find and shut down the big counterfeiting operations.
  • Fascinating (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    And by fascinating I mean WHO CARES?
  • by Shabbs (11692) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @07:29PM (#19513537)
    Yes, cuz a tiny little photo is going to stop the piracy. Stop the presses... gather 'round children... PIRACY HAS BEEN ELIMINATED!!!!

    All pirates care about is 1) Does it install? 2) Can I "activate" it?

    Cheers.

    • by fm6 (162816) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @09:57PM (#19514541) Homepage Journal

      All pirates care about is 1) Does it install? 2) Can I "activate" it?
      Yet another "everybody's like me" Slashdotter. This isn't aimed at preventing dorks like you from borrowing your friend's install disc. MS would certainly like to prevent that kind of piracy, but they don't really lose sleep over it. What they do lose sleep over is big commercial pirate software organizations that want to pass off their product as "legitimate".
  • fail (Score:2, Redundant)

    by wizardforce (1005805)

    The images are less than 1mm in size and are not visible to the naked eye, so must be viewed using optical magnification. Their presence does not affect the contents of the DVD any more than would applying a label to the front of an audio CD you may have created at home. These security measures were never intended to be impossible to find, but rather difficult to reproduce. While it's extremely difficult to replicate a holographic design in general, the inclusion of original images makes it that much mor

    • Re:fail (Score:5, Informative)

      by rborek (563153) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @07:34PM (#19513577)
      Microsoft is more worried about the large-scale pirates - the ones that sell the disks to unwitting consumers, either standalone or as part of a new PC. This would allow them to more easily show that the disks themselves are counterfeit.
      • I understand that but how many customers would go to the trouble of checking the disk for their new hologram image that is less than a millimeter across? so they can say "well it isnt our fault you bought a pirated copy, we did put a watermark on the legal copies after all." especially when 20% of their windows genuine advantage tests result in a legal copy being branded as a pirated copy, why not fix that too?
        • Re:fail (Score:5, Interesting)

          by petermgreen (876956) <plugwash@@@p10link...net> on Thursday June 14, 2007 @07:54PM (#19513731) Homepage
          It only takes one customer (or test buyer) to spot a counterfeit and provide information allowing the counterfieter to be traced.

          Plain pirates who do nothing to disguise what they are selling as legit may do some damage but buisness customers are easilly scared away from them by the threat of audits, counterfieers OTOH can sell at a much higher price to buisness customers taking sales directly from MS.

          • by Darundal (891860)
            Yeah, but this is not something that a customer would spot. It is not something that a customer, even a one who would know to do so, would. It is something that Microsoft can use as proof positive, after the fact, to say that these discs are counterfeit.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by prockcore (543967)

          when 20% of their windows genuine advantage tests result in a legal copy being branded as a pirated copy, why not fix that too?


          Oooh look, a statistic pulled out of thin air! It's magic!

          The one reporter I've seen who experienced WGA first hand actually found out that the shrinkwrapped copy he had purchased was counterfeit.
      • So do they manufacture their disks in country or farm it out to some factory in taiwan that would be willing to make an 'extra' run?
        • Microsoft owns a facility in Humacao, Puerto Rico, that manufactures all of the optical media for distribution in the Americas. So an extra run of the Asian-market DVDs manufactured elsewhere would be obviously illegitimate, since they would have the wrong hologram for sale in North or South America (there is a Puerto Rico hologram on the bottom of an American Vista or Office 2007 DVD).
      • It doesn't work for sporting goods which have little holograms on them saying "Officially Licensed [Org] Merchandise". Consumers don't know what they should be looking for. If they know they need to see a hologram for official merchandise, the ones who care don't know what it's supposed to look like and won't know the difference between a cheap bubblegum card quality hologram and the official one. All it really does is raise the price of the merchandise and raise a bit more money for the packaging houses (y
        • My favorite - the sports memorabilia stores that spout "Be sure it's genuine! Get one with a certificate of authenticity!" Right... because someone who has no qualms about counterfeiting a piece of memorabilia is going to balk doing the same for a cheap piece of paper. Apparently.
    • "since when do software pirates care about watermarks if they can still copy the data just fine?"

      If it is a mark of authenticity that is difficult to duplicate, it's easier for discriminating customers to skip. It's the same concept the gubment uses to make money difficult to counterfit.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by GFree (853379)

      For that matter, how many pirated copies of Vista actually exist? [such negative reaction to it why pirate it?]

      One point of reference would be to check the number of seeders/peers on any given torrent site for a particular OEM version of Vista Ultimate, pre-activated.

      Last time I checked there were a couple hundred seeders and about a thousand plus peers, keeping in mind of course that once you download a new OS, chances are you're gonna get straight to burning and installing it, which reduces the seeder lev

    • exactly (Score:5, Interesting)

      by ihatewinXP (638000) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @07:56PM (#19513743)
      The pirate copy I bought in here in Beijing had these security features:

      1. Plastic sleeve
      2. No box
      3. Burned CD with "Vista 32 Eng" written in Sharpie on the front.

      And it works great. Even came with the guys phone number in case I had problems applying the validation hacks.

      If youre going to buy a pirate version what do you care? I have seen the nicer versions (with fake box et. al.) but trust me, no one is fooling themselves into thinking that they are getting a $400 program for ten bucks.

      But my even more ghetto pirate version only cost $5 and it came with Office 2007 as well (which employed the same counter measures) ;)

      • Re:exactly (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Geoffreyerffoeg (729040) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @08:08PM (#19513823)
        no one is fooling themselves into thinking that they are getting a $400 program for ten bucks.

        That's for the $10 copies. There are, however, the $400 copies, in which case people are fooled into thinking that the $400 they're paying for this program is going to Microsoft instead of some thief's pocket.

        (And yes, this is in fact theft. The data might not be "stolen", but the $400 definitely was stolen.)
        • Re:exactly (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Carnildo (712617) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @08:22PM (#19513937) Homepage Journal

          (And yes, this is in fact theft. The data might not be "stolen", but the $400 definitely was stolen.)


          No, it isn't. Selling an item with the pretense that it's a different item is called "fraud".
          • Re:exactly (Score:4, Informative)

            by arashi no garou (699761) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @09:25PM (#19514383)
            Actually it depends on which country or even which state the transaction occurs in. Where I live (Georgia, United States) it's called Theft By Deception. There is a parallel charge called Deceptive Business Practices, which covers businesses and individuals claiming to be a business that attempt a fraudulent transaction. If they actually succeed in selling a bogus product or service, and money exchanges hands, they are hit with the theft charge as well.
        • Re:exactly (Score:4, Funny)

          by ArsenneLupin (766289) on Friday June 15, 2007 @04:12AM (#19516407)
          You forgot one word. Lemme correct it for you:

          That's for the $10 copies. There are, however, the $400 copies, in which case people are fooled into thinking that the $400 they're paying for this program is going to Microsoft instead of some other thief's pocket.
          hehe...

          (And yes, this is in fact theft. The data might not be "stolen", but the $400 definitely was stolen.)
          I completely agree. In both cases!
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by AndrewNeo (979708)
        That's funny, the legal copy I got from Microsoft is in a thin jewel case, no box, and is a burned DVD with "Vista Vista RTM x86" written in Sharpie! My valid key is even written in pen on the little paper cutout insert. I think it was downloaded with this cool program called Microsoft File Transfer Manager.
      • by zobier (585066)
        Completely OT but can you confirm the presence of a sign in Beijing that reads "Question Authority" supposedly meaning "Ask the Guy in the uniform" or is it just an urban myth?
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Microsoft and Bill Gates would like to thank you for contributing to helping them remain a monopoly through your illegal purchase. The Linux community, however, would like it if you would stop pirating software.

        You might not be hurting Bill Gates with your pirating, but you are most definitely hurting people.
  • Link To Pictures (Score:5, Informative)

    by pavon (30274) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @07:30PM (#19513549)
    For the majority of slashdotters that don't have a Vista DVD and a magnifying glass sitting on their desk, the engadget article [engadget.com] has pictures.
  • by siddesu (698447) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @07:31PM (#19513563)
    Then, if the disk is illegally copied, they send the soul to Microsoft Hell. And if the disk is genuine, the soul goes to Microsoft Heaven.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Joe U (443617)
      Which one of those is 'dll hell'?
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by kaizokuace (1082079)
      too bad microsoft's software cant tell if it is authentic or not! or do they also have false positive hell?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by lgramling (1064562)

      they send the soul to Microsoft Hell. And if the disk is genuine, the soul goes to Microsoft Heaven.
      What's the difference?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by mjwx (966435)

      Then, if the disk is illegally copied, they send the soul to Microsoft Hell.
      Where you're forced to use a Mac
  • by WrongSizeGlass (838941) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @07:32PM (#19513565)
    ... if I worked on the 'Vista' team I sure wouldn't want my picture printed on the DVD. What if someone recognized me on the street? Or in prison?? Or on /.???
  • by Nom du Keyboard (633989) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @07:33PM (#19513569)
    The problem is that when I got my Vista upgrade discs through Dell for systems bought just before Vista was released, I don't have pretty hologram discs like that at all. I have just plain printed Dell labeled junk that anybody could counterfeit.
  • by perlhacker14 (1056902) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @07:36PM (#19513599)
    First off, nerds like us are the ones who pirate stuff in the first place. Second, if the image is so small, which user is going to see it, and if the user cannot see it, then claims of amnesty are theoretically possible. Third, due to the traditionally nonintimidating nature of the nerd, what pirate who sees the image will think and stop what they are doing? It seems that Microsoft demonstrates its foolishness through oversight and arrogance once again. Though, the whole idea is quite funny for the rest of us!
  • by grapeape (137008) <mpope7NO@SPAMkc.rr.com> on Thursday June 14, 2007 @07:44PM (#19513649) Homepage
    If they really did it would eliminate the fallback excuse of why no one is buying it unless being forced to. The local CompUSA here was going out of business and even at 75% off during the final days they were open there were still dozens and dozens of vista boxes just sitting there.

  • by $RANDOMLUSER (804576) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @07:45PM (#19513651)

    Microsoft Corp. has clarified the identity of the mysterious trio on the installation disks for the business version of Windows Vista.
    And no, you can't play the installation DVDs backwards and hear the devil talking, either.
    Yeah, you have to play them forward to hear the devil talking.
  • Avoid CLick through (Score:5, Informative)

    by blhack (921171) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @07:45PM (#19513653)
    Real story [blognewschannel.com]
    no ads.
    This isn't an anti-piracy measure, Microsoft is actually pretty upset about it. They don't like easter eggs because it makes them look unprofessional. If they find the guys that did this, they will probably be fired.
    • This isn't an anti-piracy measure, Microsoft is actually pretty upset about it.
      Some would disagree [windowsvistablog.com].
    • From the article:

      Whoever stuck in that photo could have stuck in a penis, and Microsoft will probably feel the need to go with overkill to prevent that ever happening.

      I'm hoping that by saying "could have stuck in a penis" they meant to say "could have included AN IMAGE of a penis on the DVD." I mean, the internet's a pretty strange place but somebody farking a DVD is just plain freaky.

      However, this is far too serious an issue to take any chances and MSFT is far too serious a company not to respond appropr

  • At least... (Score:5, Funny)

    by ceroklis (1083863) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @07:47PM (#19513669)
    ... they didn't use this one [trinity.edu].
  • "The images are less than 1mm in size and are not visible to the naked eye, so must be viewed using optical magnification."

    So why bother with them then? Seriously, let's say that I wanted to know if someone was selling me a counterfeit vista disc. I look on the back and there's nothing there, how do I know whether or not the watermark is there?
    Completely fucking worthless.
  • by Kildjean (871084) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @07:53PM (#19513717) Homepage
    Hmmm Embeded holographic images... So wait a second, is this why Vista is so Expensive? I mean are people who are paying $300 bucks for vista paying really $1 for the OS and $299 for the Hologram?

    Sweet!
  • by mmarlett (520340) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @07:57PM (#19513747)
    So does anyone have a torrent of this hologram? The Vista I have really needs it.
  • Do you really care it doesn't have the pretty little picture?

    Sort of like counterfeit bills, if it passes at the local burger joint, its good enough. Who cares if the feds catch it at the federal bank and take it out of circulation? You got your use out of it.
  • by GFree (853379) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @08:02PM (#19513787)
    That's not a nerdy photo.

    If there were really serious, THIS [informacyde.com] should have been the embedded image.
  • I'm no Microsoft apologist, but this does make sense for them. The point is that law enforcement in any country can be pretty clueless on whether a CD is copied or not. This way, when they find a warehouse full of suspicious CD's, they have an easy way to tell if they are actually legit or counterfeit. This sort of thing is *not* designed for customers (who don't know about it) or illegal dupers (who don't care about it).
  • by TheDarkener (198348) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @08:12PM (#19513843)
    Nobody has cared to look at the Vista Business Install CD.
  • http://inicia.es/de/kwisatz/ [inicia.es] It's almost like that 10m^1 thing.
  • by jptechnical (644454) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @08:36PM (#19514039) Homepage
    If an explosion occurs nearby, won't it shatter the hologram releasing these three criminals that were imprisoned on Krypton nearly 3 decades ago? You know they must be pissed! They would have super human powers, and superman is nowhere to be found!
  • by batkiwi (137781) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @08:37PM (#19514051)
    This is not about buying a cheap copy for $5 and "wondering" if it's real or not (hint: it's not). A contrived example of why this is important:

    You go to your local mom and pop PC shop. You buy a PC for $1000 including Vista. They give you a disk that has a nice color silkscreened vista logo. 9 months later, the activation hack they applied and didn't tell you was applied is fixed via update, and you call MS to deal with validation. They ask you about your disk, which has no holograms. They tell you you've been "had," so you go back to the mom and pop shop and require a real copy, this time knowing what to look for and demand.

    The same story could be told about small businesses who are not large enough to use corporate version with their own keyserver, and thus buy bulk professional licenses and have the CDs as proof of license.
    • by prockcore (543967)
      No, it's more like this:

      Microsoft (or more likely the BSA) goes to places suspected of counterfeiting. They go to an assortment of vendors and buy Vista. Then they discover which vendor is selling thousands of copies of counterfeit Vista and call the police.

      Customers don't enter into it.
  • I don't buy it... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by chevybowtie (96127)
    ...you can download ISOs for Vista from Microsoft. Obviously, the disc itself is not important. It's the keys that determine legit or not. I'll bet they found out about this image only recently and this is the spin.
    • Agreed. I've bought a number of Vista machines for myself and for work and for OEM you normally don't even receive a Vista DVD. Some of them came with the "Anytime Upgrade" DVD, but that is an "all-in-one" disk that has all versions of Vista on it with, as you said, the version installed being decided by the key that you provide. It's not even a holographic disk. I think the only holographic disks are retail, and what business in their right mind would buy a retail version of Vista? Also if you buy any
  • I can see the fnerds!
  • Anyone who looks at the pictures dies in seven days.
  • had a cryptic label that spelled MEMOREX.

    -ted
  • Cracked? (Score:5, Funny)

    by Associate (317603) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @10:16PM (#19514665) Homepage
    Will cracked versions feature a pasty white buttocks of the nerd that cracked it?
  • by bl8n8r (649187) on Thursday June 14, 2007 @10:27PM (#19514719)
    My sister's friend's brother's girlfriend has a cousin that went to china and said she saw them throwing out the vista cds and pirating the clamshells.
  • Not worth it (Score:3, Informative)

    by TheLink (130905) on Friday June 15, 2007 @01:54AM (#19515817) Journal
    Microsoft don't make the Vista CDs themselves.

    Other companies do. And I bet a fair number operate in China. So guess who can make 1mm holograms?

    Most pirates won't bother because their target markets don't care. But how hard is it for a factory to have "production overruns" or "test runs"?

    In fact, I've seen a 100% original MS CD that was a _low_quality_ stamp (and was not easily readable by some drives) - you could see the "shiny side" was "disfigured" - I've seen low quality pirate CDs that looked like that, but wasn't expecting MS to use the same el-cheapo manufacturers.

    I bet if MS sues one of those Chinese factory after a few too many "overruns", it'll just close down, and reopen under a new name and "new management", and start making the same stuff.
  • "DRM" tag...? (Score:3, Informative)

    by SEMW (967629) on Friday June 15, 2007 @02:04AM (#19515841)
    Why is this article tagged with "DRM"? You need quite a lot of people to tag an article with something for it to show up these days -- do that many people really not know what DRM is that they think TFA is an example of it? Are people just mentally equating it with anti-copyright-infringement methods in general, and tagging without stopping to think about whether something actually is DRM?

    Come on, people; if you dilute a phrase enough it is liable to lose its meaning; calling all anti-theft measures from holograms on discs to security guards at the entrance of a shop "DRM" will just detract from legitimate efforts opposing the use of actual DRM to prevent fair use, etc.

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