Lauren Weinstein sends in news of a major and disturbing Microsoft anti-piracy initiative called Windows Activation Technologies, or WAT. Here is Microsoft's blog post giving their perspective on what WAT is for. From Lauren's blog: "The release of Windows 7 'Update for Microsoft Windows (KB71033)' will change the current activation and anti-piracy behavior of Windows 7 by triggering automatic 'phone home' operations over the Internet to Microsoft servers, typically for now at intervals of around 90 days. ... These automatic queries will repeatedly — apparently for as long as Windows is installed — validate your Windows 7 system against Microsoft's latest database of pirated system signatures (currently including more than 70 activation exploits known to Microsoft). If your system matches — again even if up to that time (which could be months or even years since you obtained the system) it had been declared to be genuine — then your system will be 'downgraded' to 'non-genuine' status until you take steps to obtain what Microsoft considers to be an authentic, validated, Windows 7 license. ... KB971033... is scheduled to deploy to the manual downloading 'Genuine Microsoft Software' site on February 16, and start pushing out automatically through the Windows Update environment on February 23. ... [F]or Microsoft to assert that they have the right to treat ordinary PC-using consumers in this manner — declaring their systems to be non-genuine and downgrading them at any time — is rather staggering." Update: 02/12 02:08 GMT by KD : Corrected the Microsoft Knowledge Base number to include a leading 9 that had been omitted in the pre-announcement, per L. Weinstein.