updated 7/30/2005 11:48:24 AM ET 2005-07-30T15:48:24

Days after Microsoft Corp. launched a new anti-piracy program, hackers have found a way to get around it.

The software company's new program, called Windows Genuine Advantage, requires computer users to go through a process validating that they're running a legitimate copy of the Windows operating system before downloading any software updates except for security patches.

But the check can be bypassed by entering a simple JavaScript command in the Web browser's address bar and hitting the "Enter" key. When that's done, the validation does not run and the user is taken directly to the download.

Microsoft said it was investigating and that the glitch was not a security vulnerability. (MSNBC is a Microsoft - NBC joint venture.)

The hack appears only to work when a computer user is trying to download software through the Windows Update service. Some software, such as Microsoft's AntiSpyware beta, isn't available there but can be found elsewhere on microsoft.com.

Such downloads also require validation, but the hack does not appear to work. On Friday, attempts to download the antispyware program resulted in a server error, with a message that read, "It appears that our activation servers are not functioning properly."

All Windows users, even those with pirated copies, can still download security patches. For any other software updates, Microsoft now requires computer users to validate that their computers aren't running counterfeit copies of Windows.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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