Making sure that you are getting legitimate Microsoft software and hardware has become trickier as pirated products flood the market more each year. Having official Microsoft products will guarantee you that your PCs function correctly, that Microsoft can help you if there are any issues, and that they are free of malware that could put your SMB at risk. Here’s how to tell if your products are official and what to look for when you’re looking for new hardware and software solutions.
What to look for when buying new hardware:
- Certificate of Authenticity (COA): This is a sticker or label that typically features 3D Voiles™ containing the 25-character product key required to activate Windows. You’ll find the COA on the body of PCs (usually on the side) or laptops (often underneath or in the battery compartment) you purchase with Microsoft Windows preinstalled. These certificates cannot be purchased separately. If your computer does not feature a COA, Windows may not have been correctly licensed or you may even have counterfeit software. Report Counterfeit Software here.
- Reinstallation/Recovery Disc: Typically new PCs and laptops are shipped with a reinstallation or recovery disc, in case anything goes wrong. These cannot be purchased separately and may not be sold. If this disc is used on other computers other than the one it was shipped with it may not work.
- Packaging: Microsoft packaging is always sealed and secure. Spelling mistakes, poor colouring, incorrect logos, and photography that do not match the product are all indicators that there is something wrong.
What to look for when buying new software:
- Certificate of Authenticity (COA): The same type of COA sticker featuring 3D Voiles™ accompanies newly purchased software as it does hardware with Windows preinstalled.
- Product key label: This is an orange sticker featuring a 25-character product key and features the words “Proof of License”. This label cannot be purchased separately.
- New Installation CD/DVD: Original Microsoft software CDs and DVDs feature embedded holographic labels that cover the entire disc and show vibrant colours and 3D effects. These are not stickers and cannot be removed.
- Optical security features: The readable side of the disc will have holographic features around the outer and inner band. These are not stickers. They feature the words “Microsoft” and “Genuine” and both have triangles pointing from the band towards the readable surface of the disc.
- Packaging: Like with the packaging for hardware, the same applies to software packing. If there are any errors on the packaging, there are good chances that the product is counterfeit.
- When Downloading: To avoid pirated software and malware do not download Microsoft products from auction sites or peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing sites. Find an overview of SMB related products and purchasing options on the product page. Microsoft product keys are never sold separately.
Use the above guide to verify that your Microsoft branded hardware and software are legitimate thereby ensuring that your PCs and your business run better and more securely. You’ll also have the peace of mind knowing that you got what you paid for.
Get more Tips and Tricks for protecting your business’s data and securing your computers.
Are you considering upgrading your software or finding an affordable IT solution? Try our Solution Finder and get expert advice customized to your needs.