I have just spent an hour looking through adverts in eBay for Windows 7. Don’t worry, I am not going to buy anything. It took me months to make a decision to buy something from eBay that couldn’t be faked easily.

Software is too easy to fake, just like labels and designs in the fashion industry. I am no gambler and will not take the chance to bid on something that I can’t see, especially when I know that it can be copied so easily. I don’t want a fake/pirated/illegal version of Windows 7 anymore than I want ‘Boulet’ boots which have been stuck together in Hungary and had a fake Boulet label applied to them. I want the real thing because it is a quality product that lasts for a long time if looked after properly.

The MSDN key codes being given to unsuspecting buyers are real and are kosher as long as the MSDN terms of use are met. The trouble is that the selling of MSDN keys to anybody is not within those terms. MSDN keys are registered to the account holder when they are issued, and if those keys start to appear over a wide area, Microsoft will suspect foul play and block them.

The vendors all give guarantees that the software will activate, and of course they will because they are legal keys as long as they are being used for MSDN purposes by MSDN account holders. It is only when those terms are broken that Microsoft revoke MSDN keys. As Windows 7 updates within minutes of being installed, there is not time for the key to be fully processed, so all seems well. Come the next Update Tuesday, the picture can change irrevocably.

So how can you tell which vendors are ok? I honestly don’t know, but my gut feeling tells me this.

  • Any eBay ad where the vendor has a website which seems to be established is maybe ok.
  • Vendors who have a number of computer related items are maybe ok.
  • Vendors who set a price close to the normal store prices are maybe ok

I am less sure about..

  • Vendors  who only have a few copies of the same software and nothing else
  • Vendors who have the above items where one of the items has a ‘buy now’ value and the other items don’t
  • Adverts from ostensibly different vendors where exactly the same text has been used in the blurb

Being born a natural cynic, I have an aversion to anything which sounds too good. Experience and learning from the mistakes of others has prevented me having to always learn from my own mistakes. I never ever assume that ‘it will not happen to me’, and if you don’t want it to happen to you, learn from the mistakes of computers users who write into forums with tales of being well and truly had.

The safe bet when buying Windows 7 is to buy it online from Microsoft or one of the main computer stores. You know who they are and if all goes wrong,  you know that they will be there tomorrow when you go back to complain.

Happy shopping.. Smile