Understanding your organization’s Windows software licenses can be challenging. Windows licensing missteps are common, but Microsoft and our partners are here to help you. If your organization happens to be the victim of any licensing mistakes, we can offer easy ways to fix them.

If you’re unsure whether or not you're using properly licensed Windows software today, see below for a list of some common licensing issues.

Why genuine Windows?

Genuine Windows is published by Microsoft and can help your organization stay competitive and maintain its stellar reputation. When all of your Microsoft software is genuine and properly licensed, your company has:

  • Protection from the risks that can be associated with counterfeit software, such as viruses, spyware, and other malicious software. Genuine Windows gives you peace of mind that your critical business information is safer and more secure.

  • Reliability you can count on through reduced downtime caused by system failures and security breaches. Only genuine Windows is supported by Microsoft and provides access to all updates and optional downloads.

  • Performance that is faster and gives your company a leg up. With genuine Windows you save valuable time needed to complete business tasks and don’t need to worry about unwanted licensing interruptions.

  • Confidence that your company is fully in compliance with Microsoft Software License Terms and is seen as a trustworthy, reputable business partner by your employees, partners, and customers.

What should I try to avoid?

Companies like yours want to do the right thing, but some are just unaware of the facts about Windows licensing. Here are some of the most common licensing mistakes:

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Scenario 1: Confusing an upgrade with a full license

Windows Volume Licenses are for upgrades only and require a qualifying full operating system to be installed on the PC as a prerequisite. Companies often purchase Windows Volume Licensing Agreements and mistakenly apply them to computers that don’t have a full operating system already installed. Windows Volume Licenses provide the opportunity to extend the life of a previously acquired full Windows desktop license, or other qualifying license, by upgrading to a newer version of Windows.

Next Steps: If your organization fits this scenario, Microsoft and our trusted business partners offer a portfolio of solutions that are easy to implement and can help make sure your company is properly licensed and smoothly running a Professional edition of Windows. See the table in the "How do I correct a licensing mistake?" section on this page.

Scenario 2: Trying to use a Volume License to install Windows over a consumer base license

Windows Volume Licenses require an existing, qualifying operating system installed as a prerequisite on each PC. Companies often acquire PCs with Windows Starter, Home, or other consumer editions preinstalled, and then mistakenly apply a new Windows Volume License to upgrade to a Windows Professional edition. Except in the case of academic institutions, Volume Licensing Agreements can only be applied to Professional editions of Windows operating systems.

Next Steps: If your organization fits this scenario, Microsoft and our trusted partners offer a variety of easy ways to help make sure your company is properly licensed and smoothly running Windows 7 Professional or Windows 8.1 Pro editions.

Scenario 3: Unintentional purchase of counterfeit software

Companies sometimes discover that they are unintentionally using PCs with counterfeit operating systems. This is a common occurrence when PCs are acquired without Windows or other operating systems pre-installed through a trusted PC manufacturer or in a full retail package. Windows Volume Licenses require genuine operating systems as a prerequisite.

Genuine Windows software is published by Microsoft and supported by either Microsoft or a trusted partner. Only genuine Windows helps you reduce downtime caused by system failures and security breaches, and offers you the reliability and performance you expect from Windows. It's helpful to know what to look for when purchasing a PC. If you feel you might be using counterfeit software, Microsoft can help make sure you’re properly licensed and running the right version of Windows to meet your needs.


How do I correct a licensing mistake?

For the above scenarios and other licensing issues, Microsoft offers several easy licensing solutions to help make sure your company is using properly licensed, genuine Windows software. All of these solutions are meant for use on an existing PC's previously installed counterfeit or otherwise improperly licensed copy of Windows. Refer to the information in the table to learn more and get genuine today. In the future, keep in mind that the best and most economical way to get a proper Windows license is typically to buy it preinstalled on your PC.

Note: Pricing information varies by geography and is available via your Microsoft partner.

Genuine Solution
Where to buy
Business segment
Minimum PC quantity

Get Genuine Windows Agreement for Small- and Medium-sized Organizations *

Volume License Resellers

Small business, mid-market, and government (volume licensing)

5+

Get Genuine Windows Agreements for Large Organizations

License Solution Partners (LSPs)

Mid-market, enterprise, and government (volume licensing)

5+

Get Genuine Windows Agreements for Academic Institutions

Volume License Resellers

Academic (volume licensing)

5+

Get Genuine Kit

OEM system builders

Home use or small business

Any

Get Genuine Online Kit or
Get Genuine Windows **

Available online upon failing validation

Home use or small business

1

* The Get Genuine Windows Agreement for Small- and Medium-Sized Organizations is called the Get Genuine Solution in Brazil, Russia, China, and India.

** The Get Genuine Online Kit provides legalization rights to Windows 7. Get Genuine Windows provides legalization rights to Windows 8 or Windows 8.1.

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Get Genuine Windows Agreement for Small- and Medium-Sized Organizations (GGWA-SMO)

Who is it for?

Small business, mid-market, or government organizations

Where do I get it?

From a Volume Licensing reseller

Minimum PC quantity

5 or more PCs

Program details

  • Customer support is available for purchase

  • Downgrade rights are available

Terms & conditions

  • Commitment to acquire only genuine Windows licenses going forward for new PC purchases

 

Get Genuine Windows Agreement for Large Organizations (GGWA-LO)

Who is it for?

Large or medium-sized organizations

Where do I get it?

From a License Solution Partner (LSP) or directly from your Microsoft account representative

Minimum PC quantity

5 or more PCs

Program details

  • Placement of a one-time only order

  • Customer support is available for purchase from Microsoft or through a LSP

  • Downgrade rights available

Terms & conditions

  • Pre-signed agreement that includes an acknowledgement of compliance and an audit clause

  • Must legalize all out-of-compliance PCs running Windows

  • Commitment to acquire only genuine Windows licenses going forward for new PC purchases

  • Master Business Services Agreement must be in place or set up

 

Get Genuine Windows Agreement for Academic Institutions (GGWA-A)

Who is it for?

Qualifying academic institutions

Where do I get it?

From an Academic Volume Licensing reseller

Minimum PC quantity

5 or more PCs

Program details

  • Use only to fulfill the qualifying Windows operating system requirement for purchasing Volume License Windows upgrade

  • Media unavailable

  • Downgrade rights available after a Windows upgrade license is acquired through an existing academic Volume License agreement

Terms & conditions

  • Commitment to acquire only genuine Windows licenses going forward for new PC purchases

  • Academic Open License agreement terms and GGWA Supplemental Agreement Academic Addendum

 

Get Genuine Kit (GGK)

Note that the license acquired with the purchase of a new PC with Windows software preinstalled can't be used to correct an improperly licensed PC. The following table illustrates the differences between the Get Genuine Kit and a license obtained with a new PC purchase.

 
Get Genuine Kit
Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) PC purchase

Target customers

Customers with existing PCs in need of legalization

Purchasers of new PCs with software preinstalled

Terms

Available for sale to customers to legalize existing PCs

Available for sale to OEMs for preinstallation on new PCs only

Features

  • Customer support provided by Microsoft

  • Downgrade rights are unavailable

  • DVD-style case with full packaged product (FPP) media

  • Customer support provided by the OEM who preinstalled the software

  • Downgrade rights are available

  • Media accompanies PC

Transferable

Generally, no transfers are allowed; however, any exceptions are noted in the program agreement

Can't be transferred from the PC on which it is originally preinstalled

Other

Purchased directly from OEM system builders

Can't be sold to legalize existing PCs

 

Get Genuine Online Kit (GGOK)

If Windows 7 on your home PC fails online validation, the Get Genuine Online Kit is available worldwide as an online solution. If you access downloads on the Microsoft Download Center or on the Microsoft Windows Update website, you might be prompted to complete genuine validation for Windows, which performs a validation check to verify that Windows installed on your PC is genuine. If validation determines that Windows on your PC isn’t genuine, you’ll see information about why validation failed, helpful troubleshooting tips, and how you can get genuine Windows.

Get Genuine Windows

If Windows 8 or Windows 8.1 on your home PC fails online activation, Get Genuine Windows is available worldwide as an online, in-product solution. You can purchase a valid Windows product key right from your PC by going to PC settings, and then tapping or clicking Windows Activation. You also have the option to download Windows and purchase optional back up media.