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:
Retail Box COA
The Certificates of Authenticity (COA) label is used on the outside of retail boxed software and explains what the product is, its country of intended use and country of origin. The label has the following anti-counterfeit security features:
- Moiré image - Within the red area on the left hand side of the label is a feature to assist in proving that the label is genuine. Hold the label horizontally at arm's length and at eye level. Look straight at the label and then move to a very shallow viewing angle, for example by tilting the label away from you. A series of zig zag lines and squares will become visible where there previously appeared to be none.
Product key label
The product key label is a white or orange label that accompanies the installation CD/DVD/USB and Certificate of Authenticity (COA) for a product and contains a 25 character product key. The product key label should not be purchased separately.
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.
Many Microsoft products on CD, DVD and USB include holographic security features to help ensure you receive authentic product and to protect against counterfeiting.
Earlier version of Windows
Microsoft packaged software products prior to Windows 10 such as Windows, Office, and Windows Server are delivered on a CD or DVD, which includes vibrant color and 3D effects on the inner hub of the disc, as the disc is tilted. This hologram is embedded within the disc; it is not a label.
There is also an inner mirror band hologram located on the inner part of the back (data) side of the DVD. It changes color as the disc is tilted.
Note: The copper holographic material is embedded within the DVD and is not a sticker. If the hologram peels away, you may have received counterfeit software (report counterfeit software to Microsoft).
With the latest product releases on CD or DVD from Microsoft, additional optical security features can be seen from both sides of the disc, near the inner hole of the disc and along the outer edge. The features are embedded within the disc; they are not on a sticker. When the disc is flipped over, any text or numbers will be seen as a mirror image of the reverse side.
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.
When viewing packaging, simple things like spelling errors, blurry text and images, or poor print quality can help you identify counterfeit software. 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.