Microsoft said that supposedly pirated copies of its new Vista computer operating system "will be of limited value" to those who use them.
The company responded yesterday to reports that some websites have been circulating pirated copies of Vista and the Microsoft Office 2007 applications suite.
The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper reported on Thusday that the anti-piracy measures of Microsoft Windows Vista and Office 2007 have already been cracked. The paper said that various pirate websites have a version of Vista available to download, called "Vista BillGates".
It comes supplied with a product key, allowing users to install the operating system on their computers unhindered.
A second patch - a separate download, called an "activation crack" - must also be applied. This bypasses the activation process used by Vista to ensure that each installation is legitimate.
The same pirate sites also have Office 2007 Enterprise editions available for download. Users simply need to enter a supplied product key, since this version of Office does not require product activation.
But Microsoft said in a prepared statement that those pirated copies of the OS won't work for long.
"The copies available for download are not final code and users should avoid unauthorised copies, which could be incomplete or tampered. This unauthorised download relies on the use of pre-RTM [release to manufacture] activation keys that will be blocked using Microsoft's Software Protection Platform. Consequently, these downloads will be of limited value," the statement said.
Microsoft has taken similar measures previously with Windows XP, preventing users that it had identified as using pirated versions from downloading certain updates such as Internet Explorer 7.
The company did not comment on reports of pirated versions of Office 2007.
"Microsoft is happy that customers are eager to begin using Windows Vista," the company said.
Vista and Office 2007 went gold only last week, meaning that the code for their initial release has been finalised and released to manufacturing.
Mass-licence or business users of Vista will be able to buy a copy from November 30, while the release of the consumer edition is scheduled for January 30 next year.
Office 2007 will be available for purchase by consumers at the same time as Vista.