Microsoft hopes its new Software Protection Platform will help it outmaneuver software pirates by changing product activation and online validation and by introducing better detection for tampering and hacking.

The company said that Windows Vista and its upcoming Windows Server "Longhorn" will be the first two products to ship with the new technologies. Microsoft intends to add the technology to other products in the future.

Cori Hartje, director of Microsoft's Genuine Software Initiative, said that one of the ways the new tecnology works is by limiting access to features and functionality. For example, if the software isn't deemed genuine then the user won't be able to use Windows Defender or the new Aero user interface, or obtain optional updates from Windows Update. The new technology will not however limit a user's access to security updates.

Users that fail to validate their Windows software after 30 days will find the OS functionality significantly reduced. Microsoft said that unlike nonvalidated copies of Windows XP, nonvalidated copies of Vista will still allow the user to access the Web browser.

Enterprises that upgrade to Vista or install new copies of Vista and Longhorn will be able to use Microsoft Volume Activation 2.0 to validate the software on a per-system basis or in volume by using batch processing. Hartje said Microsoft intends to release deployment guides to help companies with the upgrade process.

The company published a white paper, Microsoft's Software Protection Platform: Innovations for Windows Vista and Windows Server 'Longhorn', that discusses the new technology. The white paper is available at the Microsoft Web site in Word format.