THE INITIAL PROBE: A team of Microsoft researchers in China were investigating the sale of counterfeit software.
WHAT THEY FOUND INSTEAD: They bought a laptop that was supposedly in pristine, super-fast, direct-from-the-factory condition. Instead, they say, it had malicious software called Nitol.
THE CASE: The incident was revealed in court documents unsealed Thursday in a federal court in Virginia. The records describe a new front in a legal campaign against cybercrime being waged by the maker of the Windows operating system, which is the biggest target for viruses.