How to Check if a Copy of Windows is Legal
In an attempt to curb piracy of its operating system and software, Microsoft has enabled several tools within copies of its software for customers to ensure its product is legal.
Built into every copy of Windows is a feature you can click to see if the program is legal. Click "Start," then "Control Panel."
Under the blue bar that says "Control Panel," click "Help." A submenu will appear. Click "Is This Copy of Windows Legal?"
You can check whether Windows came purchased or preinstalled on your computer; if it was purchased retail as an individually boxed product; if it was purchased as a digital download online; and whether it is a volume license.
Purchased With Computer
If you bought your machine from a manufacturer such as Dell or Gateway, a Certificate of Authenticity should be placed somewhere on your product. For desktops, it will typically appear on one side of a computer tower or on the back panel beside the power plug. For laptops, the sticker will usually appear on the underside, perhaps by a battery.
Determine which Certifications of Authenticity is most like your machine.
You will be asked to identify several security features on the COA. After you have answered them all, click "Get Your Results."
If you bought your copy at a software store, you will be asked to identify which edition of Windows you have. Select your edition from the drop-down menu.
Specify which Windows installation disc you have. Another copy protection feature of Windows is the labeling on its discs. Your disc should have some form of decoration on it ranging from Windows logos, the name and holographic-effect images. Choose which of the three best resembles your setup disc.
Identify the piracy prevention features your disc contains. Much like the counterfeit protection on most United States currency, watermarks and special icons are embedded within the disc. On this page, you will be asked to note whether any of the four options are on your disc. You will have to read the instructions on the website and examine your disc closely. Once you have identified which of these resembles your disc, click "Get Your Results."
If your Windows operating system is on a machine as part of a workplace, you might have a "Volume License" attached to your machine. Volume license editions of Windows are part of licensing packages many organizations have that enable mass quantities of Windows at a lower price.
Specify which software disc you have. Check your disc for one of the four patterns. It could be green, red, blue or white. Select your edition.
Identify the piracy prevention features your disc contains. Like the other steps, you will be asked to check which protection items appear on your disc.