Operating System Beta, etc. Wiki

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Operating System Beta, etc. Wiki
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Timebomb or Time bomb is a software mechanism that renders a computer program unusable after a pre-set period of time. It is commonly seen in pre-release software, where it is used to discourage users from holding onto outdated testing versions.

Windows

Windows showing a BSOD with the stop code of END_OF_NT_EVALUATION_PERIOD

In Windows 9x-based builds of Windows, the timebomb is activated by IO.SYS. Once the timebomb is triggered, Windows will display a message on boot saying the pre-evaluation period has expired. Windows will then immediately shut down and will not boot until the operating system is reinstalled with the correct BIOS date (IO.SYS patches itself on disk to infinite loop). Windows 95 Build 216 is the first build to include a timebomb.

In NT-based Windows versions, once a timebomb is triggered, a bugcheck (BSOD) of 0x98, END_OF_NT_EVALUATION_PERIOD, is used. Even though Windows 2000 Build 1627.1 is the first NT build with a timebomb, the Japanese-language version of Windows NT 3.5 build 756.1 included a concept of a timebomb as a message box that would change to tell the user to install a retail copy of Windows.

Windows 8 Build 8140 through 8432 (fbl loc), as well as the fbl_partner_eeap builds of Windows 10 contain broken timebombs and thus if you install it on the current date, it won't activate the timebomb.

Most notably, most builds of Windows 10 Version 1507 and 1511 are flightsigned (file signatures take certificate expiry time into account). Should the timebomb activate, the bootloader will be broken due to expiring certificates.

Locations

  • Windows 10/8/8.1:
    C:\Windows\ServiceProfiles\LocalService\AppData\Local\Microsoft\WSLicense
  • Windows 7/Vista:
    C:\Windows\ServiceProfiles\NetworkService\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\SoftwareProtectionPlatform
  • Windows XP/Server 2003/2000:
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\ControlSet001\Control\Session Manager\Executive\PriorityQuantumMatrix
    HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\setup\SystemPreFix

macOS

Currently, only Mac OS X Public Beta includes a timebomb. While the timebomb didn't allow the user to log into the user interface, it didn't affect the Darwin kernel or any other components not related to the Aqua interface.

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