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 license to run their Windows software.

  • The COA is typically found 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.

The Certificate of Authenticity (COA)

New Certificate of Authenticity (COA)
  • The 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. An interwoven security thread is built into the paper, and random paper fibers are visible when the thread appears at the surface.
  • The 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 COA has linear bar codes, a human-readable part number and tracking number, and the same three colors.
  • The COA has a color shifting ink edge that changes from green to magenta when viewed from different angles.

The hologram

Many Microsoft products on CD and DVD include holographic security features to ensure product authenticity and to protect against counterfeiting.

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 holographic CD or DVD shows vibrant color and 3D effects as the disc is tilted. This hologram is embedded within the disc; it is not a sticker.

  • The latest Microsoft product releases on CD or DVD include additional optical security features on both sides of the disc, near the inner hole of the disc and along the outer edge. When the disc is flipped over, any text or numbers will be seen as a mirror image of the reverse side.
  • 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.



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

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

*Note: The Software License 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 license to run their software.

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

The Anti-Counterfeiting Act of 2003 (U.S. only), passed on December 24, 2004, makes it a criminal offense 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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