Today we’re going to go over how to make your copy of Windows legal (assuming it isn’t). Perhaps you bought a computer from Ebay or Craigslist or a friend or family member ‘worked’ on your computer and installed a bootleg copy of Windows from a shady site.
The latter happened to a client of mine and she called saying she was getting pop-ups (from Microsoft), letting her know her copy of Windows wasn’t valid.
If you get WAT (Windows activation tool) popups saying your copy of windows isn’t valid, the fastest and easiest thing to do is click on the popup and then you’ll be taken to a Microsoft site where you can purchase your ‘Get Genuine Windows’ kit. I tried to find a link to the site, but there’s not one that I can find. This may be because the price is less than buying a full version of Windows. (Of course use caution when you click on a pop-up as it could be a phishing scheme. Verify you are at the Microsoft site by looking at your URL.)
There’s a comprehensive site called Genuine Windows, that gives a lot of information on how to tell if your copy of Windows is genuine or not. From what I’m reading, you won’t be given a link to purchase the Windows Kit unless it’s determined your copy is not valid.
After you place your on-line order and pay, you’ll get an email from Microsoft with instructions and your product key – so keep that email!
- You’ can update your existing product key (no DVD needed). This is the quickest way to get your computer going again-no waiting for a DVD in the mail. Keep in mind that you can only use the key to activate the same version of windows you currently have. For example, if you have Windows 7 Home Premium on your computer, and you pay for a Windows 7 Home Premium kit, then you can simply apply the key (again your instructions will be in your email, so keep it), and your computer will be legit. Microsoft states in the email that you must visit the URL they give you to apply the key from the same computer you purchased the kit from. This keeps people from trying to use the key on a different computer.
- You can wait for your DVDs (one 32-bit & one 64-bit) to come in the mail – usually takes a week or so. Put it in and a setup screen will present. Now you can choose to either do a fresh and full install or you can choose to input the new product key.My client wanted a fresh install and I recommend this to blow away all the cruft and start fresh. Before doing this, be sure to transfer your documents and other data to an external drive before doing the fresh install. A complete reformat of your computer erases everything on the drive. If you are just going to activate, I’d still backup everything just to be on the safe side. My client had a bootleg copy of Windows Ultimate, but I easily installed Windows 7 Home Premium in about 30 minutes. Of course, the updates following made it take longer. It should be noted that if you have Windows Vista (or another Windows version), and want to ‘get genuine’ and purchase Windows 7, you must use the DVD to do a full install.
While I was going through the install process, I saw one of the screens said that the copy of Windows could not be transferred to another computer, sold or put on a new computer.
If you’d like more in-depth information, here’s a link to one of Microsoft’s support forums that gives more information on the process from a user who had problems.
If you happen to get a bootleg copy of Windows, I hope this helps prepare you for the process. Yes, it’ll cost some money, but not as much as buying a full version. Good luck and let me know your experience with the Get Genuine Kit.