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Advice on Safe Software Shopping (revised 4/10/2011)

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  • ( A revised version of an earlier post – revision caused by MS UK removing all the really good links to interesting and useful counterfeit-avoidance pages)
    The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author, and NOT Microsoft
     
    A frequent problem in these forums is the unfortunate client who looked for a bargain, and was instead sold a counterfeit copy of Windows.
     
    MS have a wealth of advice on how to spot the rogue, and provide sources and tips that help you make sure that you get what you pay for  - and that what you pay for is what you should be getting, rather than a cheap knock-off which may contain malware, or will soon become invalidated by the WGA system in Windows 7.
     
    The main site to know about is the MS How To Tell site - where MS point out the physical bits-and-pieces of a legitimate Windows installation, be it pre-installed from a manufacturer, or a software purchase from the web.
     
    (note that this page will default to your local MS site)
     
     
    Let’s start from the beginning – how to spot the dodgy seller...
    AVOID all web auction sites and flea-markets – the vast majority of software sold on such sites (eBay, Craigslist, and Amazon MarketPlace particularly) are counterfeits of one kind or another, whatever price they are asking for them.
    DO NOT purchase from sites which claim to sell only OEM software to the public – they are almost invariably selling counterfeits.
     
    What about your vendor (the guy who took your money!)? Is he reputable? Do you have a *real* physical address for him/her? (or did you buy a pig in a poke on eBay?) Can you knock on their door to demand a refund, or at least telephone them to complain?
    If not, the chances are that you have counterfeit software.
     
    What about payment methods? – unless you know the vendor, it’s always best to use a way of paying for your purchase that allows you to complain to the paying authority (CC issuer, PayPal, etc.) so that you can get them on your side in case of problems.
     
    Once you have a Windows package in your hot, sweaty hands (let's face it - at up to $300 or more, it's a fair-sized hunk out of most people's budget), how do you tell if it's genuine without losing your rights to claim a refund?
     
    Remember that once you open the package, you may lose refund rights, so look closely at the pack first!
     
    A retail package (which is what 99% of people *should* be buying) comes in a nice fancy plastic case, with pretty pictures, and a 'tamper-proof' seal on one edge under the clear wrapping.
    There is no clear way to say that you do have a genuine package - anything that can be made by MS can be copied by someone else! - but there are a few simple checks that you can make....
     
    If that seal appears broken, you do NOT have a genuine package.
    If the clear wrap is broken, you do NOT have a genuine package.
    If the seal is not clear, and legible, and does not appear as the photos in the above site describe, you do NOT have a genuine package.
     
     
    Now you’ve opened the package – what do you see?
    In a Retail package you should have TWO disks – the 32-bit and 64-bit installation disks for the edition of your choice. If you only have one disk, your package is NOT GENUINE.
    Your Product Key is on a Orange/Yellow sticker either stuck onto the inside of the case, or on a card inside. DO NOT LOSE THIS KEY – it’s your only record of your personal copy of Windows! See here for details....  http://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/howtotell/Software.aspx#Packaging
     
    Genuine disks for Retail packages are ALWAYS fully hologrammed – and NEVER have sticky labels on them. If yours appears to have a label on it, it’s a fake! Look Closely – see the video below.
     
     
     
     
     
     
    All of which adds up to
     
     
     
    1) If you're not sure of the vendor - back off!
     
     
     
    2) If you're not sure of the packet you get - DON'T open it, just send it back for a refund!
     
     
     
    3) If you’ve discovered that you have a counterfeit, go to the HowToTell site (http://www.microsoft.com/howtotell ) and follow the links to Report Counterfeit – fill in all the required data, and you *may* qualify for a complementary copy of your software. This depends on a lot of factors, and takes a fair amount of time to process, even if you do get it.
     
    4) You may have the option of purchasing a Get Genuine Kit – I do not recommend this, as it will be locked to the computer with the problem, and cannot be moved to another computer (even if the computer dies 2 minutes after installing the Kit!), while a Full Retail License bought from a legitimate online reseller is often almost identical in pricing, and retains usefulness if your affected PC dies.
     
    5) Report the Rogues!
     
    Once you're certain you have a Fake - what do you do? First, contact the vendor, and see if they will refund the money.
    •DO NOT accept excuses like 'MS changed something and it means our licenses show up as fake when they are not' - because that is a pure and simple LIE.
    •DO NOT accept the offer of a new Key - it WILL go the same way as the first, in all likelihood.
    •Be FIRM with them - don't use terms like 'may be a fake' or 'if you could refund', use terms like 'IS a fake' and ' you will refund'. Threats of Police action, and MS action may be appropriate if your first communication is unsuccessful.
     
    If that fails to produce an acceptable response (and perhaps even if you do get the refund), then you can/should report the piracy to the following people....
    •Microsoft - at piracy@microsoft.com or your local MS website piracy form
    •the BBB or local branch of the traders associations for the trader.
    •The police - Software Piracy is a crime, it's theft from both you, and from MS, and it's fraud. In the US, the FBI are the ones responsible for the tracking of Counterfeit Software Keys, so contact them.
    •Whatever Trading Standards officials there are in BOTH your own area and that of the vendor.
    •Your credit card company (or whatever means you used to pay for the item, such as PayPal) - they need to know, and may refund you or chase the vendor on your behalf.
    •The payment options on the vendor's website - you may have used PayPal to pay, but the vendor may display all sorts of payment options, when in reality they only accept PayPal. Displaying credit card badges without holding the appropriate account may be breaches of copyright - and the banks involved are protective of their reputation, so may chase the vendor.
     
    If enough people do that, the vendor will have to shut up shop, and set up a new operation - if he's not spending time 'on leave' in that place with the high walls :) - and if he has to do it often enough, then it becomes uneconomic, and he'll give up, or find some honest work to do.
     
     
     
     

    Noel Paton | Nil Carborundum Illegitemi | CrashFixPC | The Three-toed Sloth
    Tuesday, October 4, 2011 11:06 AM
    Moderator

Answers

  • Administrative post: Creating this post and marking it as Answered so this thread stops showing up as an unanswered thread.
    Darin MS
    Thursday, October 6, 2011 9:15 PM
    Owner