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 COA and Hologram

A Certificate of Authenticity (COA) is a label to help you and your customers identify genuine Microsoft Windows software. Without it, your customers will not have a legal licence to run their Windows software.

The Certificate of Authenticity (COA)


New Certificate of Authenticity (COA)
  • This COA has full adhesive across the back and a new left-position Voile port with backing that allows a full adhesive coating.
  • A single security thread is now in the left position.
  • This COA features security die cuts and microprint.
  • A new over-varnish is applied on top of the product key and tracking number, which doubles the durability of those specific printed fields.
  • The Windows 7 COA still has linear bar codes, a human-readable part number and tracking number, and the same three colours.


Old Certificate of Authenticity (COA)
  • The old COA features two portholes, one in the shape of an ellipse and the second in the shape of the Windows "flying window" logo. The over-laminate has been removed to make it easier to see the individual paper fibers within each of the portholes.
  • The embedded metallic thread includes new colour transitions that occur when viewed at an angle.
  • The COA contains microprint—a security feature adopted from currency—that is legible when viewed under a magnifying lens.
  • The COA has been changed to a more rectangular shape.

The Hologram

Microsoft Products Holographic CD Features

The face of the CD features a hologram—a three-dimensional image of objects—that displays both the name of the software program and a specific image related to that program. The CD has the following characteristics:

  • The outer hologram edge has a wavy visual effect.
  • The hologram is embedded within the disc. It is not a sticker.
  • When the disc is flipped over, any text or numbers will be seen as a mirror image of the reverse side.
  • The inner hub section has a mirror-band hologram.
Outer and Inner Mirror Band Hologram Features

The outer and inner mirror-band holograms on the back of the CD have the following characteristics:

  • On the outer mirror band (OMB), the word "Microsoft" changes to "Genuine" when the disc is tilted from left to right.
  • In the inner mirror band (IMB) area there is a large triangular element with a point toward the outer edge of the disc. There is also a small corresponding triangle on the thin OMB band, facing the much larger IMB version. These two triangles should be in direct alignment with each other.



Individual OEM System Builder Windows software licenses must be distributed with the following:

  • Certificate of Authenticity (COA) label
  • Hologram media
  • Documentation
  • Software Licence Terms*
COA Distribution

*Note: The Software Licence Terms can typically be found within the software.

Counterfeit Protection

Don't fall victim to stand-alone COAs. If you receive offers for COAs as stand-alone items, be aware that these offers are highly suspect—and they can put you and your customers at risk. If you fall victim to stand-alone COAs, you will have wasted money and your customers will not have a legal licence to run their software.

Protect your customers and your company. Purchase software through a Microsoft authorised OEM distributor, an assured source of genuine Microsoft software.

The Anti-Counterfeiting Act of 2003 (US only), passed on December 24, 2004, makes it a criminal offence to distribute stand-alone COA labels. There is now a significant legal risk for dishonest resellers to illegally deal in stand-alone COAs. The full weight of the law is behind the efforts of Microsoft to make the marketplace safe for your honest partners.

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