About a year ago I bought a Windows 7 laptop off of Craigslist. Everything seemed fine during inspection, but I forgot to reboot the thing — and thus missed that it was running a pirated copy of Windows. Why did I have to restart the machine to notice this fact? Because the only punishment incurred for running a copy of Windows 7 which was not “genuine” was a little dialog box on start-up: “This copy of Windows is not genuine.” Every now and then, a bubble would pop up during use to remind me of same. Updates installed as normal, and all features remained intact; as far as incentive to upgrade goes, it could have been much harsher.I eventually ended up formatting its hard drive and downgrading to XP, but I never stopped feeling like Microsoft could have done a little more to shout “Pirate!” while I noodled with the machine in that Starbucks. This trend in behavior seems to be continuing, as new reports suggest that a fully operational leaked copy of Windows 8.1 RTM can be activated with legitimate keys for vanilla Window 8.The prodigal Start Button returns.“Crime” might be going a bit far, since the upgrade is of course intended to be free to legitimate owners of Windows 8. Still, you’d think Microsoft would at least want to discourage users from getting in the habit of blithely installing leaked copies of its software. There is currently no support for the leaked OS, of course, and no word on whether there will be any incentive to upgrade from this early version to the official one, after release. Support is likely less of an issue for people downloading leaked copies of operating system updates, though, and if there are still major problems this close to release, users have much bigger problems than the lack of a troubleshooting guide.The official release date for Windows 8.1 RTM is October 17. It’s been heralded as a solution to the problems many have had with Windows 8 since launch, but some early reports seem unconvinced. Still, if you’re absolutely in love with having a Start Button, or if you simply must have the latest version of Windows as soon as possible, Microsoft does not seem to be discouraging early adoption.