Counterfeit OEM Windows 98 Threatens Legitimate OEMs, Customers

Microsoft Working to Thwart Counterfeiters, Help System Builders Avoid Getting Duped

REDMOND, Wash. - Nov. 12, 1998 - Microsoft Corp. officials today confirmed the discovery of counterfeit OEM versions of the Windows 98 operating system in several cities in North America. OEM product is intended for distribution only on new PCs by computer manufacturers and system builders and is likely to be distributed primarily throughout the reseller channel. Microsoft investigators and law enforcement agencies discovered copies of the counterfeit product after detecting similar counterfeit product in Australia two weeks ago.

"When software pirates saturate the market with counterfeit software, customers and honest resellers suffer," said Geoff Goetz, anti-piracy program manager for Microsoft's OEM sales division. "These counterfeiters have obviously invested a great deal of time and money trying to replicate our software and security features, but that doesn't mean it is complete, working product. Resellers should be very suspicious of OEM product that is represented as 'overage' or 'unbundled' or when the price is just too good to be true. We want to make sure that software resellers know they need to turn to authorized distributors so they can obtain and sell genuine product to their customers."

In addition to working with law enforcement officials to pursue civil and criminal remedies to help put a stop to software pirates, Microsoft has developed a comprehensive Web site to support honest system builders. To ensure provision of genuine Windows 98 or other OEM products to their customers, resellers should purchase from one of the 13 authorized Microsoft OEM product distributors listed on the Web site, located at

The counterfeit OEM Microsoft Windows 98 products mimic the Integrated Certificate of Authenticity (COA) Coverstock and the hologram on the hub of the CD of genuine products. However, the counterfeits are identifiable by the following weaknesses:

Consumers who obtain counterfeit copies of Windows 98, even on new machines, could be missing key elements, such as a CD-ROM back-up copy, user manuals, product identifications and even software code. Counterfeit software products also may contain viruses and may not work as well as genuine products. In addition, product support and upgrades to new versions of software are not available to users of counterfeit product.

Resellers or customers with questions about the legitimacy of Microsoft products should contact the Microsoft anti-piracy hot line toll free at (800) RU-LEGIT (785-3448) or send e-mail to Resellers may obtain information about the Microsoft System Builder Program, OEM products and authorized distributors at Customers and resellers can also obtain more information about software piracy by calling the Business Software Alliance (BSA) anti-piracy hot line at (888) NO PIRACY (667-4722) or sending e-mail to


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