What Is Windows XP Pro Black Edition?

By Blair Williams

Maybe you've read about or heard someone mention an XP Black Edition but you've never seen it in stores--there's a good reason why: XP Black isn't an official Microsoft release, it's pirated. As a result, you're not going to find one standard Black Edition, nor are you guaranteed it will be free of malware.

Origin

A few years after Microsoft released its XP operating system, pirated "Black Editions" started popping up on bittorrent sites and other online forums. The nickname is derived from its black or very dark desktop theme and the fact that it's an illegal version of XP, usually XP Professional.

Features

There is no standard version of Windows XP Black. Not only is the OS pirated, but so is the software that's crammed with it. XP Black comes loaded with programs that would cost you thousands of dollars if you bought them properly. Depending on who puts the package together, you can get multiple versions of: browsers, CD/DVD burning software, business software--even security programs, which is ironic since it's almost impossible to find a Black Edition without malware.

Bypass WGA

Among the hacks in XP Black, it requires no serial number and it bypasses XP's Windows Genuine Advantage (WGA) security measures. WGA validates the Windows license online. If you have a pirated version of XP, and WGA is loaded on your computer, you will receive persistent messages indicating as much, as well as what you need to do to get a genuine copy. Some of the earlier versions of XP Black have since been caught by WGA, as Microsoft improved its security technology. Pirates have also adapted--later versions of XP Black do not, or may never, receive these messages.

Malware

The biggest risk using XP Black is that--unless you create a version yourself--you're never going to know everything that comes with it. Dozens of iterations, with all sorts of programs and themes, are floating around the Internet. Every version will alert security software. This may be because your AV software detects a false positive by noticing a key generator for the pirated software bundled with XP Black. There is a chance, though, that the keygen actually has a Trojan. Or maybe there are multiple Trojans or viruses hidden in a program that you'll never find until it's too late, if at all. No matter which copy of XP Black you stumble across, downloading it is a security risk.

Legit Black

If you're clamoring for a legit black desktop theme for XP, try Royale Noir. It was created by Microsoft and released when the company's New Zealand site uploaded it in 2005.