Fully-cracked copies of Windows Vista have begun to appear on torrent sites. Of course, this isn't the first time that Vista's activation has been fiddled with, but reports suggest this is the real deal.

Previous tweaks have held off activation for extended periods of time. But the novel thing about this latest release is that, once installed, Vista performs as if it is already activated. You don't even need to enter a key to install it.

Aha, you say, but what about Windows Genuine Advantage , designed to root out the pirates by highlighting ill-gotten software that's already installed?

According to the reports , the version downloads updates from Windows Update with no issues whatsoever. Though you can bet the Redmond heads are already checking it over with a view to making this work somewhat less well in future.

Bill Gates announced at this week's WinHEC event that over 40 million Vista licenses have now been sold.