In most instances, each copy of an operating system that’s installed on a computer is meant to stand alone, exclusive to a particular product key. This has been the case for Windows for quite a long time. Each build of the OS comes with a key that is, in turn, registered to the account holder who owns it. However, frustration can run rampant when errors occur having to do with the registration of your particular copy of Windows. Usually designated by the dread, “This Copy of Windows is not Genuine” message, it can result in serious operating system obstacles. The article that we’ve put together, below, is designed to help you find a fix for this very error.
Read on, if you need help configuring your copy of the Windows operating system, be it version 7, 8.1, or 10!
There’s a good reason for each copy of Windows to be tied to a specific product key, and it typically has to do with protecting Microsoft’s operating system from online piracy. The distribution of copied, pirated, and illegally licensed copies of software is one of the most commonly embraced forms of illegal activity online. Even people who don’t realize they’re doing anything wrong occasionally download pirated software, but even if it’s done unintentionally, the distribution of it can be harmful to the company or business responsible for creating the software.
Obviously, we don’t have to belabor the point; the sales of the Windows operating system are fairly intricately tied to Microsoft’s profits, and it doesn’t bode well to have copies of it being trade freely online.
It’s this protection against piracy that typically triggers the error message.
‘This copy of Windows is not genuine.’
If it’s not that code, it’s something similar to:
‘This computer is not running genuine Windows’ or ‘Register your copy of Windows today!’
Somewhere within the system registry of your computer, this error code has been trigged by the premise that you may not be running an authorized copy of Windows. Obviously, this occurs most often for people who truly aren’t; those who pirated a copy of the operating system or downloaded an ISO of Windows installation discs.
However, it occasionally happens to people who’ve done nothing wrong, those who did purchase a legitimate copy of Windows to use on a single PC. No matter which camp you fall into, we have a fix that should get your operating system back in working order.
Before we proceed, it’s important to set out a disclaimer. We don’t condone illegal downloading or distribution of software under any circumstances. Throughout this article, we’re not going to link to any resources that will help you to find a copy of Windows that’s anything less than a new copy purchased from an authorized retailer. However, the fixes that we suggest will work for any copy of Windows that’s plagued with this particular error.
Whenever a new copy of Windows is sold, it’s packaged with a unique product key. This key isn’t necessarily tied to the software that it’s packaged with, but it does give the owner of the software a way to register a single installation of the Windows operating system to their computer and their Microsoft account. Once this is done, the operating system in question is both activated and officially registered.
Once the operating system has been authorized, it needs to be deauthorized before it can be installed anywhere else. For any software that requires a product key, this is standard practice.
Windows operating systems, including versions 7, 8.1, and 10, all follow these rules.
Pirated Copies of Windows
Of course, it is possible for the same product key to be used several different times. If this wasn’t capable, there wouldn’t be much of a problem with pirated copies of Windows, or other Microsoft software. However, on the occasions when the operating system registration processes notes that the same product key has been used more than once…
You guessed it. It displays a message akin to “This copy of Windows is not genuine.”
Doing a quick Google search can find you all kinds of Windows ISO files online, for all recent versions of the operating system. These are all frequently accompanied by pirated product keys, and each and every one of them is very likely being shared illegally.
Shared Copies of Windows
In some circumstances, people find themselves confronted with this particular error through no intentional fault of their own. Forgetting online piracy for a moment, imagine a situation where somone isn’t aware that they’re not supposed to trade or share their version of Windows. Maybe they have a family member or friend that needs a fresh operating system installation, or, maybe they just want to install Windows on another laptop or desktop in their home.
Even though this might seem entirely more legitimate than what we’ve described above, the registration system that keeps track of Windows product keys is still going to flag the copies that “aren’t genuine.” The end result is the same exact error that people face when they pirate Windows.
Subsequently, it’s resolved in the exact same way.
Fixing the “Windows is not Genuine” Error
We’re going to walk through two different processes that you can follow to potentially fix this error, and the one that works best for you is definitely going to depend on the legitimacy of your copy of Windows. At this moment, it’s time to face the fire if you’ve downloaded an illegal copy of Windows. If you don’t have a legitimate product key to register your operating system with, you’re not going to have much success in “fixing” this problem. In these circumstances, I recommend purchasing a copy of Windows.
However, if you’re being blindsided by this message for no apparent reason, these resolutions are going to be much more effective. We’ll go through the more complicated of the two first, and follow it up by showing you how to register your copy of Windows (in case that you haven’t, already.)
Get ready for a little bit of menu-delving, but not too much. You’re going to have to use the Windows Command Prompt.
- First, search for cmd.exe using the Search bar in the Start Menu.
- Right-click cmd.exe and select Run as Administrator.
- This should open up the Command Prompt window.
- Type in SLMGR_REARM, or, if that doesn’t work, try SLMGR /REARM.
- Whichever of these works, you’ll be presented with a prompt to restart your computer.
- Do so, and once your machine finishes rebooting, the error should be long gone.
Hopefully, this has resolved the problem outright, especially if your installation of Windows is already registered and genuine. Still, there are steps that you can take to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
Register Your Windows Operating System
The surefire way to make sure that you don’t run into this problem in the future? Make sure that your copy of Windows is registered using the product key that came packaged with it.
Microsoft’s online support page has most of the information that you’ll need in order to verify your copy of Windows. Following the instructions available, the absolute easiest way to ensure that your copy of Windows is genuine is to find the product key that came packaged with it. If your computer came with a copy of the operating system installed on it, search the casing of your machine for the holographic Microsoft Windows label. This will have your product key listed in plain lettering.
If you purchased your copy of the Windows OS separately, then the packaging that it arrived in will have your product key right along with it. Easy, right?
In closing, it’s important to establish that your copy of Windows will still receive critical security patches and functional updates necessary to keep running, regardless of whether it’s been registered as “Genuine Windows,” or not. Even people who end up with counterfeit software–whether through purposeful effort or through an illegitimate sale–will still be protected through the same updates that all Windows users are getting. However, many of the operating system’s updates will remain locked behind the genuine Windows verification process.
While we certainly don’t condone any type of illegal software distribution, we also understand that errors in the Genuine Windows registration process can frequently happen unexpectedly, for users that are definitely in possession of a valid copy of the software. Have your computer repaired, recently? If a copy of Windows was installed on your machine that doesn’t match up with the one you own, it’s possible that you’ll be told it “isn’t genuine.” The same goes if you have to repair your operating system installation, or reinstall the entire thing from scratch (though, Windows 10 has made leaps and bounds in making this a better process.)
Regardless of the reason you need it fixed, we hope that our brief guide has helped you to do so. If you have any remaining questions about Genuine Windows, let us know in the comments below! Meanwhile, considering sharing this article, so that we can deliver helpful advice to other readers!