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
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.