Learn more about features included with genuine Microsoft software, including the packaging, installation CD/DVD/USB, product
key labels, and the Certificate of Authenticity (COA). When you purchase software such as Windows, Office, or
Windows Server on its own (not preinstalled on a PC), this is called packaged software. Typically, packaged software
can be purchased from a retail store, an authorized reseller, or an online reseller. Here are some quick things
you can look for when purchasing packaged software:
- 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.
This product key label is a white label that accompanies the installation CD/DVD/USB and Certificate of Authenticity (COA)
for a product and contains a 25 character product key. In addition to the barcode and product key
there is a small amount of print on the left edge and the top right corner. On close inspection (a
magnifying glass may be required) the name “MICROSOFT” can be seen in blue in the left side and in
green on the right side. The product key label should not be purchased separately.
Your Windows 10 Microsoft packaged software product is delivered with Windows on a USB device which includes vibrant color
and 3D effects as the USB device is tilted. This hologram is embedded within the plastic molded component
of the USB; it is not a label.
In limited countries and regions worldwide, you may receive your Office 2016 backup software on a USB device that includes
vibrant color and 3D effects as the USB device is tilted. This hologram is embedded within the plastic
molded component of the USB; it is not a label.
Earlier version of Windows
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On the thin Outer Mirror Band (OMB) ring, there is an area that shows “Microsoft” changing to the word “Genuine” as you slightly
tilt the disc from left to right.
In the Inner Mirror Band (IMB) area there is an indicator arrow with a point towards the outer edge of
the disc. There is also a small corresponding indicator arrow on the thin OMB band, facing the much
larger IMB version. These two elements should be in direct alignment with each other.
Look for the hologram appearing around the center hub area of the Xbox game discs. Each authorized Xbox game disc has a hologram
around the center hub that displays the Xbox logo.
To confirm that you have a genuine Xbox game, look for the Certificate of Authenticity (COA) affixed to the opening edge
of the game case.
When buying Microsoft software as a digital download, we recommend that you avoid auction sites and peer-to-peer (P2P) file
sharing sites. At the moment there are a limited number of sites where you can legally purchase digital downloads
of Microsoft software. One example is the online
, where you can buy a wide variety of genuine software and hardware directly from Microsoft (in
select markets). Additionally, you can purchase a digital download of Windows at
With the exception of Product Key Cards distributed with Certificates of Authenticity (COA’s), Microsoft does not distribute
products keys as standalone products. If you see a listing on an auction site, online classified ad, or other
online page advertising product keys, it’s a good indication that these keys are likely stolen or counterfeit.