What to do if you see “This copy of windows is not genuine you may be a victim of software counterfeiting”

September 26th, 2006

[tag]Windows Genuine Advantage[/tag], also know as [tag]WGA[/tag], is a system that Microsoft implemented to give software pirates a hard time.  Problem is, the system is in a real mess and nearly 50% of those who reported reported to Microsoft that they were picked out by WGA as being pirates over a 2 week period in August turned out to be running a genuine copy of Windows (Ed Bott's Microsoft Report).

Now I'm all for stamping out piracy and every company is entitled to take steps to protect themselves from piracy, but when you have a failure rate in the system of close to 50%, then something huge is wrong and it's time to pull the plug until things can be sorted. 

In case you're interested, the breakdown of WGA failures are as follows (again, thanks to Ed Bott for doing the hard work here):

  • Users running genuine Windows - 42%
  • Blocked Volume License Key - 26%
  • Invalid product key - 13%
  • Not activated - 13%
  • Other reasons - 6%

However, as it stands right now, there's no indication that Microsoft is going to back down on WGA. 

So, what do you do if you are faced with the dreaded "This copy of windows is not genuine you may be a victim of software counterfeiting"?  First off, don't panic!  Also, don't do anything rash.

If you know that you're running a dodgy copy of Windows then you've been caught.  Consider yourself lucky that you had a free run for so long and now choose to do the right thing and buy a genuine copy of Windows.  Clicking on the WGA Notification bubble will take you to a page that will sell you a Windows Genuine Advantage Kit for $149.

But what if you are running what you believe to be a 100% totally legit copy of Windows.  Should you shell out $149 on the Windows Genuine Advantage Kit?  No way!

First off, is it possible that you are running on a dodgy key?  Did you take your PC in for repair somewhere?  Is it possible that they installed Windows and used a "bad" key (maybe reusing a key that they had lying around, using a key generated by a keygen or key generator)?  Dig you your Windows CD and see if the product key on the cover matches the one installed on your system.  A simple way to do this is to download the Microsoft Genuine Advantage Diagnostic tool and run it. 



Click Continue:


Under product key you will see the last 15 characters of your product key.  Check this against the one on the CD case.  Do they match?  No?  Then it's time to change it!  You can do this easily without having to reinstall Windows.  You can download the tool to do this from here.

What do you do if the product key of your installation matches the one on your CD case?  Well, you can go back to the Microsoft Genuine Advantage Diagnostic tool and click on the Resolve button. 


That didn't work?  There might be a problem with digital signatures on your machine.  This page details how to resolve this issue.  Here's a concise version of the solution:

  1. Click Start, and then click Run.
  2. In the Open box, type cmd, and then click OK.
  3. At the command prompt, type regsvr32 softpub.dll, and then press ENTER.
  4. Click OK when you receive the message that DllRegisterServer in Softpub.dll succeeded.
  5. Repeat steps 1 through 4 for the following files: Wintrust.dll, Initpki.dll, Dssenh.dll, Rsaenh.dll, Gpkcsp.dll, Sccbase.dll, Slbcsp.dll, Mssip32.dll, and Cryptdlg.dll.
  6. Type exit, and then press ENTER to close Command Prompt.
  7. Reboot.

Is Microsoft Genuine Advantage Diagnostic tool saying that your copy of Windows is not activated but you cannot activate Windows?  Try the following:

  1. Reboot your computer into Safe Mode.
  2. Go to Start > Run and type %systemroot%\system32 and press Enter.
  3. Locate the following files: wpa.dbl and wpa.bak.
  4. Rename wpa.dbl to wpaold.dbl and wpa.bak to wpaold.bak.
  5. Reboot your computer Normally.  This will now force activation.

Your problem still not solved and not covered here?  I'd recommend that you have a look through the Microsoft WGA forum.  A number of minor issues are covered here (although you might have to dig deep).

Hopefully, given all this information you'll be able to solve your problem and get on with your life.  However, fixing the problem doesn't guarantee that you're not going to run onto future problems (so you might want to bookmark this page in case of future troubles). 

If none of these steps work, then you next course of action is to contact Microsoft.  There's quite an active forum here but you might be better off telephoning Microsoft for support (if you have a free incident left over).  Your mileage may vary and Microsoft is not all that responsive to WGA problems - if you don't get anywhere then I'm really sorry and I feel for you (I really mean that.  As someone who actively promotes Microsoft products and services it pains me when people are hard-done by Microsoft).  Sorry.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, September 26th, 2006 at 14:14 and is filed under PC Doctor Tips. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

2 Responses to “What to do if you see “This copy of windows is not genuine you may be a victim of software counterfeiting””

  1. WGA - Windows Genuine (Dis) Advantage « //engtech Says:

    [...] >> What to do if you see “This copy of windows is not genuine you may be a victim of software counterfeiting? [...]

  2. Windows Genuine (Dis) Advantage — Why buy when a crack works better? (WGA sucks) « Internet Duct Tape Says:

    [...] >> What to do if you see “This copy of windows is not genuine you may be a victim of software counterfeiting? [...]