On Your Side: Is This Windows CD Genuine?

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I received a Windows 7 Ultimate CD from a friend of a friend when Windows 7 first came out, and as I always do, I put it through every test for genuineness that Microsoft had, because I had been tricked into buying a counterfeit copy before. Every one of those tests said it was authentic. Re­­cently when Automatic Updates ran, a notification came saying my copy was not genuine. What should I do? I don't want to buy another copy of Windows 7 Ultimate, and I'm sure this version is real. Please help.

Robert C. Maehl, Louisville, Kentucky

OYS responds: We advised Maehl that he could submit his rejected copy of Windows to Microsoft for evaluation and possibly get a free replacement. He did just that and received a new copy.

Anyone who already has a copy of Windows or Office and wants to check whether the software is genuine can visit www.microsoft.com/genuine; Microsoft enhances its validation tests constantly, which may explain why Maehl's copy of Windows originally passed but later failed.

Besides the ethical issues surrounding software piracy, a Microsoft spokesperson points out that counterfeit software carries risks such as exposure to malware and identity theft. The company encourages customers to use its Windows Genuine Ad­­vantage (WGA) and Office Genuine Advantage (OGA) validation tools.

If you're considering buying Windows from a third party, make sure that the re­­seller is reputable. Look for high-quality packaging with a Certificate of Authenticity label but no product key on the outside, and check to confirm that a hologram CD, DVD, or recovery media and an End User License Agreement are included. You can see examples of counterfeit software and antipiracy features at www.microsoft.com/resources/howtotell.

Keyboard Inconvenience

Gene Carey of Rome, New York, contacted us when he had trouble getting a product repaired or replaced under warranty. About five months after he purchased a new FireFly International illuminated keyboard on eBay, a couple of the keys stopped registering. Carey e-mailed FireFly four times to request a Return Merchandise Authorization (RMA), but he received only automated responses saying that the company would get back to him. It didn't.

After we contacted FireFly about Carey's problem, a representative sent him an RMA. Carey returned the keyboard; the company verified that it was defective and then sent him a replacement.

Toshiba Notebook Recall

In cooperation with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, Toshiba has recalled about 41,000 notebooks. The Satellite T135, Satellite T135D, and Satellite Pro T130 can overheat, posing a burn hazard. Toshiba has received 129 reports of the notebooks' overheating and deforming the plastic casing around the AC adapter plug; two re­­ports are of minor burns and two are of minor property damage.

Consumers should immediately download the latest version of Toshiba's BIOS to their notebook. The BIOS revision will detect whether the unit is overheating; if it is, external power will be disabled, and the user will be directed to contact Toshiba for a free repair. For more information, call Toshiba at 800/457-7777.

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