Marketplace for Windows Mobile anti-piracy features provides about as much protection as a paper hat in a hail storm


Microsoft has published a white paper explaining the anti-piracy features of its new Marketplace for Windows Mobile, and I suspect developers are going to be pretty disappointed.

There are two levels, Standard and Advanced. 

In the Standard level protection seem to largely consist of deleting the cab automatically once  an application is installed, thereby supposedly preventing copying of the otherwise unprotected file.  A measure which can probably be circumvented by something as simple as a soft-reset during installation.

Microsoft will also not allow cab downloads to the desktop, even if you purchase the application there, which means that multi-megabyte game you bought will have to be downloaded over your phone’s data connections (be it GSM/3G/WIFI, and not all phones have WIFI), whether you want to or not.

The next level, Advanced (also the highest level) involved adding Microsoft’s license checking code into your application, which will check against a license store unique to the hardware. A little better, but unfortunately code added in such an obvious manner can also be very simply patched over not to run at all. The protection is flimsy at best, and the application should run without issue if the code is removed.

To add insult to injury “Advanced” protection will not even be available at launch of Marketplace, with licenses only being issued in December.

Why Microsoft could not use a certificate system and Application signing is unknown, but contrary to what the White Paper suggests, there is no indication that Developers can have confidence that their applications are protected after all.

Read the full White Paper here (pdf).