Recently, my computer screen went black and a message appeared in the lower right corner “you may be the victim of software counterfeiting”. It puzzled me as I had never seen this before and I wondered if it could possibly be a virus. After a lot of searching on the internet, I discovered that Microsoft had a “Windows genuine advantage” program, now renamed “Windows Activation Technology” and the message on my computer was this new technology at work.
Okay, I thought, not a virus. I’ll “get genuine now” by clicking on the link provided. That way, I thought, I won’t lose anything on my computer as I’ll be provided a download that will fix the error. That was my first mistake! Thinking I was dealing with Microsoft Store (afterall it was Microsoft’s program), I completed a purchase request for Windows 7 Home edition. To my surprise, I was advised that the product would be shipped to my address. I realized that meant a clean install and I would lose all my files anyway.
Almost immediately, I telephoned the Microsoft customer service number and advised the customer service representative that I was cancelling the order. She could not find any record of my order on their system so she gave me a reference number and advised me to call back when the charge appeared on my credit card statement. Thus began a long saga of telephone calls to ALL the customer support numbers, including the WGA number on my invoice. There is still no record of my order!
The get genuine package was shipped to me! I haven’t used the software. I don’t need it, I don’t want it, but I’m stuck with it. Everything I’ve received i.e. the invoice, the email confirmation of the order with the product key, the shipped package and my credit card bill, all indicate that it’s from microsoft.com. The package was even shipped from the Microsoft warehouse in Ohio. I an unable to return it as I need a return authorization number to do that. I am told by all the numbers I called that this is not possible when there is no order in the system. There are no other numbers that I can call to to contact the vendor (if indeed it wasn’t Microsoft store). I’ve reached an impasse and my next step will be to file a dispute with my credit card company.
You may wonder what I did to fix the problem on my computer. I had no choice left so I did a clean boot, reinstalled my original Windows disks I got with the computer, and entered the product key I found on the back of my computer. Voila! Windows validated and the message disappeared. My computer is clean, my screen is blue once again, and I am happily using my computer.
I’ve learned a lesson from this experience. Microsoft wants to curb piracy of their products which I understand. However, the only suggestion they offer to fix the message on the screen is “to get genuine now”. I believe this is for their own benefit and not the user’s. A simple suggestion that the user buy windows locally, do a clean boot, and install a new windows program would solve the user’s problem. As Microsoft accepts no responsibility for a purchase through their program, this should be a listed alternative.
The other surprising thing I discovered is that no one asked me where I got the windows program I was using, not even the Windows Genuine Advantage support person, and I wasn’t asked anything at all about possible counterfeiting of my installed Windows. I thought that would be the first thing they would do since they state anti-piracy as the intent of their program.
In summary, I want my readers to understand how this “get genuine” thing works and I want you to know that you can solve the problem without reporting to Microsoft. Good luck to anyone who finds themselves in a similar situation.