I know this will incite quite a lot of rebuttal (please remember the 'no flaming' rule), but I honestly believe that Microsoft has not gone far enough with their anti-piracy campaign. I feel they are far too lenient, letting users running cracked versions and/or using stolen product keys to continue using Windows with just various updates, downloads, and 'special features' cutoff, along with 'reminders' about going legit.
It is my firm belief that if they detect someone using a pirated version:
1.) Alert/reminder messages should be displayed immediately, prominently, and continually from that point on with no way to remove the message.
2.) The user should be given no more than three weeks to contact the manufacturer, seller, and/or Microsoft and prove the legitimacy of the license. That is, in my opinion, more than enough time, even around the holidays.
3.) If the copy is not verified within the time limit it should be locked down immediately, rendering the copy of Windows completely unusable.
4.) From then on, booting Windows should result in the screen to enter a valid product key and verification code...once entered Windows would be restored to full functionality.
I see far too many people running illegitimate copies of Windows and not caring the least bit about the "limited functionality" that Microsoft imposes. Why? They just got a $300 operating system for free...who cares if there are a few limitations? Microsoft needs to make them care! Microsoft simply has not done enough to protect their software...if they ever want to reduce piracy of their software they need to quit taking baby steps and law down the law, literally, enforce the law!
Despite the hard line approach when it comes to piracy, though, I believe that Microsoft must adopt a strict policy of informing the user that such checks will be carried out, before the user ever purchases the OS (or computer running it). Waiting until you begin installing Windows, Office, etc is not sufficient because by that point you no longer have the ability to take the software back...the store will not accept open software except for exchange of damaged goods. And the recent fiasco with not notifying the end user is completely unacceptable...the end user has a right to know if, and what, information is going to be reported to others ahead of time so that they can make an informed decision as to whether or not they wish to purchase the software and agree to the license or not.
That's my two cents.