Microsoft is to integrate strict anti-piracy features into its upcoming Vista operating system that will partially disable a computer with a pirated copy loaded.

The current OS, Windows XP also enters reduced functionality if it’s not activated properly, but Vista will feature even more reduced functionality.

Vista will be the first product to ship with the new anti-piracy protection, but similar technology will be rolled out in all Microsoft products. If users don’t register a genuine copy of the software within 30 days of installation, most of the enhanced features won’t work.

In addition, users of illegal copies of Vista will find an irritating text appearing at the bottom of their screen that reads: “This copy of Windows is not genuine”. They should just be lucky the software doesn’t make the computer start to scream.

Testing on the a final version of Vista will most likely be ready in the next couple of weeks, meaning that Microsoft may well hit its latest promised deadline.