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How To Identify A Real Microsoft Word Certificate of Authenticity

written by: Winston Smith•edited by: Linda Richter•updated: 2/2/2011

Microsoft uses a variety of measures to identify its products and protect customers from fraud including a certificate of authenticity. Microsoft Word is one of the products that benefits from this protection. Learn how to tell the difference between a real and fake certificate in this article.

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    What Is A Microsoft Certificate of Authenticity?

    Used by millions of people and companies around the world, Microsoft office products like Word, PowerPoint, and Excel are essential. For, lilnhah years Microsoft has protected its popular products with a range of security and counterfeiting measures including a certificate of authenticity. Microsoft Word purchasers should look for this certificate to make sure they have a real, legal copy of the software, rather than a fake, illegal duplicate. Checking the authenticity of the application is particularly important if you are purchasing Microsoft Word second hand or if you are being offered an unusually large discount.

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    Elements of A Microsoft Certificate of Authenticity

    The certificate of authenticity on Microsoft software products has several important elements that you should check to insure you have an authentic product in your hands. Microsoft uses several types of certificates for its products – this article specifically focuses on the retail software COA. The example certificate provided shown here has been in use since October 2009 – if you wish to check the authenticity of an older certificate, contact Microsoft.

    Credit: Microsoft The following characteristics should be clear on any Microsoft certificate of authenticity:

    • Attached to a Microsoft product (stand-alone certificates of authenticity should be considered suspect; Microsoft does not sell stand-alone certificates of authenticity)
    • Background image (the background image is made up of a repeated series of words printed in a very small font)
    • Distribution restrictions (e.g. “For Distribution in US Only")
    • Product name (e.g. Microsoft Word 2010)
    • Manufacturing location (for example, “Made in China" or “Made in Puerto Rico")

    Microsoft has also provided security and material features to its certificates to render production of fake certificates more difficult. On the far left of the certificate, you can see the Port-Holes™ feature, interwoven paper fibers. Inside the paper fibers, a metallic fiber has been interwoven. To check for the presence of this fiber, carefully rip the edge of the certificate and look for the metal fiber. Fake certificates often attempt to duplicate this feature by printing an image rather than providing the metal.

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    How To Identify A Fake Certificate of Authenticity

    When purchasing Microsoft Word (or any Microsoft Office product), use this checklist to verify the certificate. While these steps can help you identify problematic certificates, a valid certificate does not preclude other kinds of counterfeiting (e.g. a duplicated DVD).

    • What is the size and shape of the certificate?
    • Is the name of a Microsoft product present?
    • Does the certificate show where the product was manufactured?
    • Can you verify the presence of the Port-Holes™ feature and the metal fibers on the left side of the certificate?
    • Is the background made up of a combination of blue and green letters on a white background?

    For added security, purchase Microsoft products directly from Microsoft. Alternately, buy Microsoft Word (or other products) from a reputable company and check to make sure the packaging has not been opened or tampered with in any way.

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    Further Reading on the Microsoft Certificate of Authenticity

    Microsoft offers numerous resources and guides to assist customers in purchasing authentic copies of their products. These resources also protect you from the defects and malfunctions that can occur when buying. Also find detailed examples of the company's certificate of authenticity. Microsoft Word is just one of the products protected by this feature - it also applies to Windows, Excel, PowerPoint, Access and other products.

    • How to know you’re buying genuine Windows -
    • What is a Certificate of Authenticity (COA?) -
    • Microsoft Certificate of Authenticity (Image) -

    Image credits:, lilinhah

    Image of certificate of authenticity provided by the writer