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Avoiding Buying Pirated Windows

Question : I bought a used laptop with Windows XP Pro already installed, but couldn't update its software to Service Pack 2 because Microsoft couldn't validate the product key. Is there a way to tell if your product key is invalid on a machine you are about to purchase?

Answer : Microsoft's Genuine Windows Advantage program is designed to do just that: check under the hood of your PC and see if its copy of Windows is legitimate or a pirated copy. There are more details and a link to the Windows-validation page at www.microsoft.com/genuine.

Computers that flunk the test are not allowed to receive most of the free software updates that Microsoft issues, though they can still obtain security patches to help combat viruses.

Obviously, it is easier to use the validation tool when purchasing a used laptop in person, as you can see it in action and confirm the product key yourself before you buy it. Things can grow more complicated if you are buying the laptop on eBay or another site where you do not meet the seller in person. When considering a used laptop purchase, check to see if the seller has a return policy so you can return the laptop if it arrives with a counterfeit copy of Windows.

If possible and as part of the purchase agreement, you might ask the seller to validate the copy of Windows and update the system with all the latest service packs and software before you buy, and include the laptop's original software discs.

 
 

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