Windows 7 Cracked

Blogger Rafael Rivera (withinwindows.com) has a crack tool that unlocks some of the Windows 7 features disabled and hidden in the pre-beta software. A pre-beta version was handed out to developers at Microsoft's PDC conference a few weeks ago. I came across the unlock tool while reading Scott Gilbertson's post on webmonkey. Rafael's tool, Blue Badge, unlocks the new Taskbar, gestures and a new feature not discussed at PDC, Desktop Slideshow.

While Desktop Slideshow won't solve our current economic crisis, it's a fun extension to the Windows 7 desktop that switches between a set of backgrounds which can be fed via an RSS feed. Curious but useless side feature? Probably, but maybe someone will use it to do some interesting animation on the desktop background image. Or maybe CNN could feed news and stock market reports onto your desktop.

I'm curious if this is simply a novelty feature, or something that could lead to a serious application. I'm drawn back to Windows 7's design mantra of simplifying and cleaning up the user's experience, rather than clutter it with gimmickry. On the surface (no "Microsoft Surface" pun intended), Desktop Slideshow seems like a distracting novelty that you'd turn off after about 3 minutes of using it. We'll have to see.

Something also interesting was the protection scheme Rafael unraveled used to ferret away these hidden features in Windows 7. The code checked to see, 1) that you are a member of a specific Microsoft domain, and, 2) you can't be a temporary employee, vendor or contractor at Microsoft.  The protection seems just as likely aimed at preventing the general population at Microsoft from seeing these hidden features as it is protecting them from outsiders. Rafael also uncovered the caching schemes used by the protection mechanism so it wouldn't have a big impact on CPU cycles or users' experience.

Anyway, if you are fortunate enough to have received a copy of Windows 7 pre-beta on the handy 160GB portable hard drive Microsoft handed out at PDC, or you've grabbed it on BitTorrent, you might want to try out the unlock techniques on a test installation of Windows 7 pre-beta. The emphasis here is on TEST installations as you'd be unlocking features on pre-beta software without any tools or support to get things right again would invariably go wrong.

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