Genuine versions of Windows are published by Microsoft, properly licensed, and supported by Microsoft or a trusted partner. You'll need a genuine version of Windows to access the optional updates and downloads that help you get the most from your PC.
Look for key features of genuine Windows software, such as the Certificate of Authenticity (COA), a proof of license label, and an edge-to-edge hologram. For more information, visit the Microsoft How to Tell website. Your safest option is always to buy Windows from Microsoft, or to buy a PC with Windows preinstalled directly from Microsoft or a store you know and trust.
If you're seeing these notifications, it's likely that your copy of Windows wasn't properly activated. Click the notification and follow the steps to repair Windows or buy a genuine version of Windows if you find out the software is counterfeit.
When your PC downloads updates, Windows checks to see if your product key or digital entitlement is valid. If it is, you're eligible to receive the latest updates from Microsoft. If it's not, your PC is running non-genuine Windows.
Yes. You'll still be able to get critical security updates. However, many updates are exclusively for customers with genuine versions of Windows. We strongly recommend that you get genuine Microsoft software immediately to keep you safer while using your PC.
Validation is an online process. It verifies that your copy of Windows is genuine and that critical Windows licensing files haven't been damaged, deleted, or removed. It takes only a few moments and lets Microsoft create a match between your PC's hardware profile and your 25-character product key or digital entitlement.
Your copy of Windows may need to be validated before you can get downloads and the updates which are reserved for PCs that are running genuine Windows. Windows might also prompt you to run genuine validation if activation isn't properly completed.
Repairs. If your PC has been repaired, you might start to see messages on your desktop that Windows isn't genuine. If the repairs required Windows to be reinstalled, the technician may have activated Windows with a different key than you used when it was originally installed. You might not see the messages until you try to download something from the Microsoft Download Center that requires validation, and validation fails. To fix the issue, you can properly activate Windows by reentering your original product key.For other issues, you may need to buy a genuine version of Windows.
1 License = 1 PC. Another common cause of Windows validation failure happens when you try to install Windows on more PCs than your license allows. For instance, if you purchased a copy of Windows and installed it on more than one PC, online validation might fail because the product key has already been used on another PC. The rule for most copies of Windows is that only one copy of Windows can be installed on one PC. To learn about licensing more than one PC, go to the Microsoft Volume Licensing website.
This article applies to volume-licensed Windows 7 Service Pack 1 devices that use Key Management Service (KMS) activation and have the KB 971033 update installed. Some users may receive the Windows Activation or "Windows is not genuine" notifications starting at or after 10:00 UTC, January 8, 2019.
On January 9, 2019, we reverted a change that was made to Microsoft Activation and Validation servers. For devices that continue to report activation and "not genuine" notifications, you should remove KB 971033 by following the steps in the Resolution section.
For Windows editions that experience activation and "not genuine" errors that are not caused by the Microsoft Activation and Validation server change around January 8, 2019, we recommend that you follow standard activation troubleshooting.
A recent update to the Microsoft Activation and Validation unintentionally caused a "not genuine" error on volume-licensed Windows 7 clients that had KB971033 installed. The change was introduced at 10:00:00 UTC on January 8, 2019, and was reverted at 4:30:00 UTC on January 9, 2019.
Thankfully, Windows 7 users can validate the authenticity of any and all copies of Windows 7, and they can do so quite easily. The following are the two most effective methods that you can use to validate Windows 7 and determine whether or not the copy of the OS installed on a specific computer is genuine: