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Beware of Microsoft product keys - Windows and Office software piracy

Microsoft is cracking down on the fraudulent sale of individual product keys for Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office. In a press release, Microsoft pointed out the spread of false license keys and gave some tips on how to identify counterfeit software. The license keys "Windows 10 Key" and "Office 2019 Key" are particularly affected.

Some examples:

Many people ask themselves the question on the Internet. Sell ​​companies like

correct licenses?

Update October 2020: Software Freund can no longer be reached online. We do not want to comment on the extent to which the companies mentioned here sell legal software licenses. Decide for yourself.

For example, on September 26, 2018, Software Freund offered Office Professional Plus 2016 for € 29.80. However, the price for a legal Office 2016 Professional Plus license from Microsoft's volume licensing program Open License was around 600.00 € for all Microsoft-certified partners. The current version Office 2019 Professional Plus is even more expensive.

It is important for software buyers that ignorance does not protect against punishment. Anyone who does not license software correctly is responsible for it. High demands are placed on merchants, buyers and managing directors. Nobody can invoke ignorance or good faith in obvious cases.

Unterschleissheim, December 3rd, 2014. By blocking 50,000 product keys, Microsoft is fighting a new kind of software piracy. The 25-character strings for activating Windows or Office were sold as supposed licenses. In reality, however, the product keys mostly belong to temporary licenses for trial versions or to OEM licenses and have been distributed illegally. In addition, Microsoft recently obtained several injunctions against providers of manipulated licenses and terminated numerous offers on trading platforms. Users take considerable risks when using incorrect product keys.

Microsoft has been taking action against the sale of counterfeit software for years. In the past two years alone, hundreds of thousands of counterfeit data carriers - above all Windows 7 recovery DVDs - and counterfeit certificates of authenticity (so-called COAs) have been seized. "In cooperation with the investigative authorities, a large number of fraudulent dealers were stopped and criminal networks smashed," explains Oliver Gronau, Director Software Compliance and AntiPiracy at Microsoft Germany. “The 'PC Fritz' case in particular, which will go into the main hearing in January, shows that sooner or later even the most brazen fraudsters will be caught.” Not least because of these investigative successes, the trade in counterfeit data media has noticeably decreased in recent months.

Lucrative fraud with manipulated licenses

On the other hand, a new form of software piracy has increased sharply: the sale of individual product keys as alleged licenses for Microsoft Windows and Microsoft Office. This type of distribution is obviously particularly lucrative for fraudulent dealers: "You do not have to manufacture and import any counterfeit data carriers and thus exclude the risk of border confiscation by customs," says Oliver Gronau. “Even in the event of a search, fake data carriers are not found, but in the worst case lists with product keys.” The manipulated keys are usually offered as real software licenses via the Internet. In reality, however, they often belong to time-limited licenses for test versions or for software developers, to volume licenses for educational institutions or to OEM licenses and are sold illegally - usually without the knowledge of the actual licensees.

Users run significant risks when using counterfeit product keys. Tampered licenses are not eligible for Microsoft updates. As a result, users' computers and data are often no longer effectively protected from attacks after a short period of time. However, manipulated Windows versions that contain malware themselves have also been discovered. And even if customers purchase product keys at a bargain price, the purchase price is in any case lost if the counterfeit is discovered and the product key is blocked.

Pay attention to bargain prices

"We warn users about noticeably cheap offers", says Oliver Gronau. “If a retailer offers a Microsoft Office Professional license for less than 80 euros, for example, everyone should take notice. Because this is only sold by Microsoft as part of volume licensing agreements and special programs for dealers and developers and has a market value (RRP) of around 500 euros. ”Individual dealers try to explain the low price by stating that they are“ used ”licenses act. However, you can usually neither give details of the origin nor state whether the keys belong to licenses with no time limit and in what form the allegedly used software was deleted by the first purchaser. Oliver Gronau: "In principle, particular caution is required if a retailer only sells individual product keys without explaining where they come from." Sellers of illegal products face both criminal and civil sanctions.

The Higher Regional Court (OLG) Frankfurt decided at the beginning of the year that the sale of individual Microsoft authenticity certificates with printed product keys as alleged licenses is not permitted under both copyright and trademark law.1 Consequently, the Regional Court (LG) Munich also decided to sell individual ones at the beginning of November Product keys as licenses or license keys by way of interim injunctions are prohibited.2 Such cases first appeared a few years ago and were decided in the interests of Microsoft and other rights holders.3 In one case, the Zweibrücken Higher Regional Court even decided that a lawyer should take his makes his own client liable for damages if he advises him that the trading of serial numbers as a license for a certain computer program is lawful.

Author: Software-Express Team |