Fixing PCs with copied Windows CDs

  Head-ache 09:53 24 Feb 2005


I have a bit of a problem with my business. I repair PCs for a living always preferring to fix rather than go down the "reinstall Windows" route a lot of local companies here prefer.

However i often come across a dialema. Occassionally i do need to reinstall Windows (or Office etc) and the cusomer produces a CDR with Windows 98/Me/XP written on it and scruffy piece of paper with the 25 digit code on it.

Now in the past i have always refused to use these disks on the basis that it opens me to prosecution and that neither of us can know 100% whats on the disk. However now i'm having to turn down more and more work because the owner can't produce a 100% legit disk.

I'm not after legal advise and i'm not going to go to the police everytime i get handed a pirate disk but want to know if go to a customer and they hand me a CDR or a disk "borrowed from a friend" then should i use the disk or not?

If i were to use the disk I would be doing wrong, wouldn't i?

  ventanas 10:00 24 Feb 2005

Yes you would be doing wrong. The product key for the computer should be on the box itself (if OEM) If they cannot produce a genuine disc that agrees with this key without a convincing explanation, something is very dodgy. Its unfortunate I know, but if the installation is not legal, and I knew it to be so, I would certainly not touch the machine with a bargepole. But I would also go further than you. I would report them.

  Jeffers22 10:01 24 Feb 2005

Are you sure it's not just a backup of the original disk?

If you know it is pirated, I think you are in a difficult position - well not really, you just should not use it. If the customer hands you a copy of their original, and signs a document to that effect I think you may well be covered.

  stlucia 10:04 24 Feb 2005

Is it a realistic option to install a new Windows for them, and charge for it? Tell them the problem was caused by their dodgy disk.

  Demora 10:10 24 Feb 2005

Technically 'YES' BUT Long ago in the days of MsDOS I was told to make a back up of my operating system and keep them in a different place. This I had done till Windows 98se (Thank heavens)

three weeks ago I had to totally wipe the drive, my win xp disk is an upgrade so asked me for (Any) 95/98/ME disk. I couldn't find the 98se disk. BUT I could find my backup. This worked.

As is always the case 2 days later I found the original, in the LOFT.

This could be the case with some of your customers (not all)

I saw somewhere that Microsoft are offering some kind of reward for reporting pirate copies

  ventanas 10:13 24 Feb 2005

That was what I meant by "convincing explanation," Perhaps I should have been clearer. But if they claim to have disposed of the original because it was unusable, then it is still illegal to use the copy, as all orginal media must be kept, usable or not. People should read their licence agreements.

But if a copy is brought in with the original, and the keys match - no problem. But as stlucia says, may be a good opportunity to sell them a new retail copy of Windows. OEM is not an option here for many reasons.

  Head-ache 10:18 24 Feb 2005

"Are you sure it's not just a backup of the original disk?"

Yes. Sometimes they state it's "borrowed off a friend" or "copied from a guy at work"

"Is it a realistic option to install a new Windows for them, and charge for it? Tell them the problem was caused by their dodgy disk."

I can't tell them that it was the disk if i can't show or proove it. Some machines are too old for XP and it's difficult to get LEGAL Win98/Me disks - Don't say eBay...

"I saw somewhere that Microsoft are offering some kind of reward for reporting pirate copies "

This is if you bought a PC with XP installed and didn't know you had been sold a pirate copy. You would then get a new / cheaper legit copy from MS.

Looks like i'll have to keep turning down the work then......

  ventanas 10:19 24 Feb 2005

Are you saying that you reformatted and reinstalled an existing XP installation and were still asked for verification of the upgrade disc. I've never known that before. Upgrades cd's should always work on an existing XP installtion without further need for verification, if you used the upgrade cd to boot, format and install. Have done this twice on different machines and have never been asked to very the upgrade a second time. Strange.

  ventanas 10:23 24 Feb 2005

One ploy you can try, if the computer is not too old. Ask them to contact the manufacturer for replacement recovery discs, or whatever they got. If the installation is genuine, these should be available - for a price.

But in using these copied discs in a commercial environment you would be taking one heck of a risk. The penalties are more than extreme, and its simply not worth it.

  Head-ache 10:32 24 Feb 2005

OK - another scenario.

I take a PC away to reinstall Win98SE. I have a legal disk that belongs to me but i get the original CD Key Code from the customers PC and reinstall Windows 98 using my CD (because their PC didn't come with a CD) but the key code from their PC.

Would that be illegal?

What if the original installation is illegal? How could i double check the CD Code hasn't been used already on dozens of other PCs?

I don't have an original WinMe CD but a friend has. If i copied that CD but didn't take the Code that WOULD be illegal wouldn't it? I couldn't use that copied CD with a customers CD Code legally could i?

If the PC has a C:\Windows\OPtions\CABS directory with the CAB files installed would it be illegal to copy those files to a CD and use that CD to reinstall on a customers PC, if i then destroy the CD afterwards?

How do you do this legit?


  Head-ache 10:34 24 Feb 2005

Some machines have been handed down a few times or the origianl manufacturer is out of business and/or the system is out of warranty.

This thread is now locked and can not be replied to.

Elsewhere on IDG sites

Samsung Galaxy S9 review

Wacom Cintiq Pro 24 and 32 review – hands-on

When is the next Apple event?

Gmail : comment annuler l’envoi d’un e-mail ?