The first crack to defeat the anti-piracy mechanism built into Microsoft's forthcoming Windows 7 operating system has been reported three months before general release.
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Reports of the crack for the Ultimate edition come less than a week after Windows 7 was released to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), according to Softpedia.
The crack is based on a product activation key and certificate believed to have been extracted from an OEM copy of Windows 7 that was leaked on a Chinese web forum.
The crack is believed to be limited to the Ultimate edition, but can be used on all machines for both the 32-bit and 64-bit versions of the operating system.
And if a user has a retail version of Windows 7 Ultimate, it can be converted to an OEM version with two simple commands, and then activated, according to Ars Technica.
Microsoft has advised customers not to download Windows 7 from unauthorised sources.
Downloading Windows 7 from peer-to-peer websites is piracy and exposes users to increased risks, such as viruses, Trojans, data loss and identity theft, a spokesman said.