Is Windows Genuine?

Posted on 2012-12-28
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2016-11-23
I have a copy of Windows 7 on a Dell laptop. The machine originally had Vista and the Product key on the "proof of license" label is for Vista. The machine shows the "Genuine" icon for Windows 7. I'm not so sure. Is there another way to verify if this is a Genuine license?
Question by:scottjnorris
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LVL 97

Expert Comment

by:John Hurst
ID: 38728467
I have a Thinkpad that came with Vista and later I upgraded to Windows 7. My Win 7 is (of course) genuine), so the Vista label is now useless.

No worry. Go to Computer, right click for Properties and allow the screen to load. It should show you a Product Key and if it does, you are good to go. You click to the right for Learn more online about Genuine Windows, but the presence of the product key with Windows is Activate above it tells you that all is well.

.... Thinkpads_User
LVL 13

Expert Comment

ID: 38728478
eventhough it shows it is genuine, it may not sometimes. There are few methods to verify. But i think serial number verification may success.
LVL 97

Expert Comment

by:John Hurst
ID: 38728485
If Windows shows as Activated and also shows a product key, it will be Genuine. It has always done so for me and all my client machines.

.... Thinkpads_User
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Expert Comment

by:Scott Thompson
ID: 38728535
Here's a little trick to see if the key is valid and not an OEM SLP key.  Download Produkey and run it. Save you Windows 7 key that it finds and paste that into Google. If nothing comes up, it is a valid key!  :-) Be sure to write it down or print it off in that case.
LVL 63

Assisted Solution

by:☠ MASQ ☠
☠ MASQ ☠ earned 1000 total points
ID: 38728964
Unfortunately it is possible to make a Windows 7 install look genuine even when it is not and it is also possible to to install a legitimate version where no licence to use the software exists.

The fact you've posted the question suggests that you may have your own doubts about its authenticity so I'm assuming in this response that you don't have the history of the machine or the history cannot be verified.

Here are the options:

First you need a bit more information:

1) Go to Control Panel\System and Security\System
Does the Windows activation section at the bottom of the screen show a Product ID?
Does the key include "OEM" in the string?

2) Check the Dell Service Tag online at Dell Support


This will confirm the (Probably Vista) OS at supply and the date the machine was ordered.

If you have "OEM" in the system activation then the only legitimate way this is a Windows 7 install is through:

Dell supplied Free Upgrade to Windows 7

If it was supplied after 25th June 2009 and the sticker on the case is for one of the qualifying Windows Vista versions (Vista Home Premium, Vista Business and Vista Ultimate)
then it may have been eligible for a "free" upgrade to Windows 7.

Upgrade DVDs were shipped with an additional sticker which should have been attached to the case with an activation key printer on them but many users who legitimately upgraded didn't put the stickers on their PCs.

The computer should be accompanied by a Dell Windows 7 DVD matching the current installation - on the face of the DVD it will say "For use only as an Upgrade to a Qualifying Dell Windows 7 Upgrade Option".

Any other Windows 7 install that shows "OEM" in the Product ID is a licence breach. Either the machine has been reformatted using a Dell OEM Windows 7 DVD (These DVDs are badged "For Distribution Only With a New Dell PC" and the licence is only valid if this was the OS supplied by the manufacturer (i.e. matches the sticker on the case/OS shown as installed on the support site)) or the operating system has been hacked to present as if it has a legitimate OEM installtion - in this case you may (but not always) find the Product-ID shown in Windows activation changes on rebooting.

If the Product-ID does not show OEM then the machine has been upgraded using a Vista>W7 install or a clean Windows 7 install.  In both cases there should be a trail which identifies how this was done, use ProduKey as posted above to compare with the DVD key or emailed upgrade Key from Microsoft.

Apart from the Dell OEM scenario above all other current hacks can be detected using the Windows Validation Tool


Download and install the application from Microsoft.

Warning - if your install is not genuine the validation tool will permanently mark your installation as "Not Genuine"
LVL 16

Expert Comment

ID: 38729821
Quick and easy way to tell. Download and install Microsoft Security Essentials http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows/security-essentials-download

If Windows is not genuine, it will tell you and will not install. If it installs, it is genuine.
LVL 97

Accepted Solution

John Hurst earned 1000 total points
ID: 38729833
Also, of you look at my first post, nothing will come up at the bottom until Windows goes online, checks, the validation and returns the data. The delay is very apparent. So the first way offered above is also a very easy way to check validation.
.... Thinkpads_User
LVL 63

Expert Comment

by:☠ MASQ ☠
ID: 38729863
@thinkpads_user, it's actually very easy to fool the activation process so the install appears genuine, includes both a product key and the Window Genuine graphic and the validation server is ignored.  There are a lot of machines that are sold on auction sites like this - "upgraded" to Windows 7

@ rbudj And it's also possible to install MSE on them because it's fundamentally a security product M$ allow it to be downloaded and installed without product validation in the same way security updates are currently allowed from Windows Update even if validation isn't completed.  It may detect some of the activation cracks but most are invisible to it.

The definitive test is the validation tool

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