How to TellLearn, verify & buy with confidence
Pc Purchase
PC purchase
Buying a new or used PC? Learn what to check for before making a purchase.

There are a few quick things you can look for to make sure that you’re getting what you are paying for when shopping for a new or used PC:

Genuine Microsoft Labels
Genuine Microsoft LabelsPro and Core Animation
A Genuine Microsoft Label (GML) should be found on new devices that:
  • Have been preinstalled with or licensed for Pro editions of Windows 8, Windows 8.1 and Windows 10.
  • Have been preinstalled with or licensed for Windows 8, Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 shipping into China (with the exception of Hong Kong and Macau).
  • Are licensed for a Windows Pro product, but have been pre-installed with a Windows 7 Professional downgrade. These devices are licensed for Windows 8 Pro but not pre-installed with Windows 8 Pro. These devices would include a GML.
The GML label is used to help users identify the edition of Windows preinstalled on a device and is also an indicator of whether the device is preinstalled with or licensed for genuine Windows. Most commonly the label is found on the back or bottom of the device.

Some devices, such as Windows Phones or Windows tablets, may not have a GML affixed to the device. There are multiple things to look for when buying a Windows device to help identify if it is genuine. Get tips about buying genuine Microsoft software or make sure you have the right licensing for your business.

See the following examples of the Genuine Microsoft Labels:

Color-Shifting Ink

The color shift on the label is designed to change from one color to another when viewed from different angles, making it easy to determine if it is genuine.

Windows, Windows 8: magenta to green

Windows Pro, Windows 8 Pro: blue to purple

Windows RT: turquoise to purple

Tamper Evident
Tamper Evident
The Microsoft Labels also include a tamper evident feature that appears upon label removal
Certificate of Authenticity (COA)

The COA is a sticker or a label that is often attached to the body of a computer for some versions of Windows or Windows Server. You can typically find the COA sticker on the body of the computer or, for some newer laptops, inside the battery compartment.

COAs and/or product keys should never be purchased separately from the product.

Windows 10
Certificate of Authenticity (COA)Certificate of Authenticity (COA)

For COAs affixed to computers preinstalled with or licensed for Windows 10, the COA features the product name printed on the label and also contains anti-counterfeit security features such as:

  • Intaglio print – uses a specialist method of printing that leaves raised ridges of ink on the surface of the label. You can feel this by running your finger over the surface. The right side of the label should feel smoother than the Intaglio printed area on the left.
  • Latent Image - Look straight at the label and then move to a very shallow viewing angle, for example by tilting the label away from you, an “M” will become visible just below the Windows logo.

Earlier versions of Windows
Certificate of Authenticity (COA)Certificate of Authenticity (COA)

For COAs affixed to computers preinstalled with or licensed for versions prior to Windows 10, the COA features the product name printed on the label and also contains anti-counterfeit security features such as:

  • Interwoven security thread – is built into the paper and random paper fibers are visible when the thread appears at the surface
  • Color shifting ink edge - changes from green to magenta when viewed from different angles

If you don’t see a Genuine Microsoft Label or COA on systems pre-installed with the Professional edition of Windows, it’s likely that Windows isn’t properly licensed on that PC and may even be counterfeit software. Get tips about buying genuine Microsoft software or make sure you have the right licensing for your business.

Small Embedded Product COAs:

This label is used on products that contain embedded versions of Microsoft software and is often found inside the device such as in a battery compartment. The label features micro text in yellow behind the black product details text as shown to the left.

Certificate of Authenticity (COA)
Reinstallation or recovery software
Reinstallation or recovery media

Refer to the documentation that came with your PC to find the appropriate reinstallation/recovery solution. Most PCs come with a separate recovery partition on the PC’s hard drive. Sometimes recovery software can be downloaded from your manufacturers website or comes on a disc or USB included with a new or used PC purchase. Reinstallation or recovery software is provided so that you can reinstall or recover the software if it stops working properly. If you try to install software from recovery media on a PC other than the one it was originally shipped on, you may not be able to activate and/or use it.

Note: If you purchased a boxed package or digital download of Windows, please visit http://www.microsoft.com/ to download back-up copies of Windows media.

Packaging
Packaging

Simple things like spelling errors on packaging can help you identify counterfeit software accompanying a PC purchase. Incorrect logos and photos that don’t quite correspond to the product you’re purchasing can also provide clues that something isn’t quite right.

Get more tips for safer shopping or buy directly from Microsoft.

Xbox
Xbox
Learn what to look for when visually inspecting Xbox hardware features such as hardware embossing, holograms, and more.
Hardware embossing
Hardware embossing
Most Xbox 360 peripherals and accessories have the Microsoft logo embossed on their surface. This is actually part of the device casing or covering itself and leaves an indentation. The Microsoft logo should not appear to be simply printed on the device itself.
Xbox 360 hologram
Xbox 360 hologram
All Xbox 360 peripherals and accessories (including controllers, headsets, adapters, and other related components) should have a small oval holographic label placed inside an indentation on the device surface (similar to hardware embossing). This label contains the Xbox 360 and Microsoft logos (which change color and position as the label is tilted).
Device connector etching
Device connector etching
On some Xbox 360 devices with cables, a stylized Microsoft logo is etched into the metal portion of the connector.
Product information labels
Product information labelsProduct information labels
Product information labels are attached to the rear of the Xbox 360 console and indicate the date when the console was manufactured, serial number, product ID, and other information.
Packaging
PackagingCounterfeitGenuinePackaging

Simple things like spelling errors on packaging can help you identify counterfeit hardware. Incorrect logos and photos that don’t quite correspond to the product you’re purchasing can also tip you off to the presence of counterfeit hardware.

Get more tips for safer shopping or buy directly from Microsoft.