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This week in Vista

Before Vista will display its showiest side, known as Aero, it will run a check to make sure the software was properly purchased

Pirates, typo squatters and tech thieves, beware. There's a new sheriff in town.

With that in mind, Windows Vista plans to offer you spiffy new graphics, as long as you're not a pirate. With the new operating system, Microsoft is offering plenty of new graphics tricks, including translucent windows, animated flips between open programs, and "live icons" that show a graphical representation of the file in question.

But before Vista will display its showiest side, known as Aero, it will run a check to make sure the software was properly purchased. The move is the latest salvo in Microsoft's broad attack on those who use unauthorized copies of its operating system. In the fall of 2004, Microsoft began testing the Windows Genuine Advantage program, designed to verify that a particular copy of Windows is legitimate.

Microsoft is also releasing a new tool that aims to take some of the annoyance--and risk--out of mistyping a URL when browsing Web sites. The company's Cybersecurity and Systems Management group released a prototype of Strider URL Tracer with Typo-Patrol version last week. The tool is designed to seek out and block mistyped versions of domain instead of, for example.

Typo squatters are companies that exploit slips of the fingers by registering for mistyped versions of popular URLs. Some typo domains are parking lots for pay-per-click and syndicated advertising, according to a Microsoft research paper published alongside the tool. The group's researchers found that a mere six services have a presence on between 40 percent and 70 percent of active typo domains.

Feel like you need more protection when you are surfing the Web--especially in public? An entrepreneur has rigged portable computers with a security measure that car owners have relied on for decades.

Randy Green has reconfigured Apple Computer's MacBook Pro so the computer's remote control can activate his security system. Coffee-shop computer users who get up for another latte can hit a button on their remotes and they will hear the classic car-alarm chirp that tells them their systems are armed.