Microsoft today said it will soon feed Windows 7 users an update that detects illegal copies installed using more than 70 different activation cracks.

The update to Windows Activation Technologies (WAT), the anti-piracy software formerly known as Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA), will be posted to Microsoft's download site on Feb. 17, and offered as an optional upgrade via Windows Update later this month, where it will be tagged as "important."

Out the gate, the update will reach Windows 7 Home Premium, Professional, Ultimate and Enterprise users, said Joe Williams, the general manager of Microsoft's activation and anti-counterfeit group. "I'd like to stress that the Update is voluntary, which means that you can choose not to install it when you see it appear on Windows Update," said Williams in an entry to the Genuine Windows blog.

That's counter to the practice Microsoft used in 2006, when it force fed Windows XP customers a WGA update by labeling it as a high-priority security update. Several users sued Microsoft over that behavior; the lawsuit was officially dismissed just last week. Since then, the company's anti-piracy software updates have been less aggressive.

Full story: Computerworld