Microsoft clarified that a tiny photo on the Windows Vista business edition installation discs is an antipiracy feature.
Microsoft has confirmed the identity of the mysterious trio on the installation disks for the business version of Windows Vista.
And no, you can't play the installation DVDs backwards and hear the devil talking, either.
The photo - less than one mm in size - of three grinning men is one of several images incorporated into the hologram's design intended to make it harder to replicate a Vista DVD, according to Nick White on Microsoft's Vista team blog.
The men in the photo worked on the team that designed the hologram. The disks also have images of art works now in the public domain. Magnification is required to see the images.
"The real story is interesting, but conspiracy theorists will be disappointed to learn that it is not the result of a deliberate attempt to deceive," White wrote.
Microsoft never intended to make the images impossible to find, White said. Holograms are hard to reproduce, he wrote, but the inclusion of photos adds another level of complexity to thwart piracy.
Various blog postings speculated the image was the work of a rogue trio, reminiscent of when Microsoft and other software vendors used to plant images or games within other programs, a practice known as adding an "Easter egg."
Nonetheless, pundits couldn't pass up the opportunity for a bit of humour at Microsoft's expense.
"Apparently a blogger named Kwisatz has uncovered a 'secret' photo embedded into the hologram that encompasses the Windows Vista Business DVD," wrote Paul Miller on the tech blog Engadget. "This being Microsoft, the photo naturally depicts three total nerds grinning excessively at their own cleverness."