I wanted to follow up on our last post about Windows activation
– a friend of mine had posted on Facebook about seeing a notification from Windows that he might be a “victim of counterfeit software”. Following his status update, someone else commented on his post and said that he didn’t understand how anyone
could be a “victim” of counterfeit software. Let’s talk about what that means, because it’s really an important topic to consider. It’s critical that you to know what to look for when purchasing genuine Windows so you can avoid the risks of counterfeit software.
I’ll give you a scenario. Say that my friend “Mark” (not his real name, but we’ll use it for this scenario) wants to buy Windows 7 for his PC, and he’s trying to find a good deal. He happens to find an online classified ad or auction site offering it for a lower price than the one he’s seen in the stores, so he purchases it, and installs it when it arrives. So what might happen next? Well, Mark might notice that something doesn't look right about the packaging – maybe there are typos on the box, or the box itself doesn’t look as nice as the ones he’d seen in the stores. Or the product key that came with the installation CD doesn't work when Mark tries to activate Windows, or once it’s installed on his PC, it fails genuine validation. The counterfeit copy of Windows that Mark just installed could potentially contain viruses, spyware, and other malicious software, putting him at risk of losing his personal files and data, and even poses the risk of identity theft. Mark has now paid money for counterfeit software that provides none
of the benefits of genuine software, including support from Microsoft and its authorized partners at a time that he probably needs it the most. I'd say that's a pretty compelling reason to avoid being a victim of counterfeit software.
So, how can you
avoid Mark’s mistakes and better protect yourself from the risks of counterfeit software?
- Buy only genuine software from trustworthy sources. The best way to purchase genuine Microsoft software is directly from the Microsoft Store or from an authorized Microsoft reseller. To locate a reputable reseller, you can use local resources such as a Chamber of Commerce, the Better Business Bureau, and consumer publications.
- Learn how to spot the fake. Microsoft’s How to Tell website contains plenty of information about how to determine whether the Microsoft software you’re purchasing is genuine, including pre-purchase checklists to use when you go shopping. You’ll also find plenty of visual examples of counterfeit software as well as anti-piracy features included in genuine Microsoft software that you’ll want to be familiar with, such as Certificates of Authenticity (COAs), installation media, and product packaging.
- Take action. If you’ve mistakenly purchased counterfeit software, you can file a piracy report online or call Microsoft’s anti-piracy hotline at (800) RU-LEGIT. By reporting piracy, you can help Microsoft take action against software pirates and help others avoid being the victims of counterfeit software.
Until next time!