“You may be a victim of software counterfeiting.” These messages pop up regularly if Windows thinks you’re using a pirated version of Windows.
Microsoft wants to nag you until you go legitimate and prevent PC sellers from sneaking pirated copies of Windows onto their PCs.
A non-genuine copy of Windows has features designed to regularly alert you to this and annoy you into wanting to use a properly licensed copy of Windows.
Windows XP and Vista had harsh limitations here, Windows XP had Windows Genuine Advantage pushed as a Windows Update, and that could potentially lock users out of their computers.
Windows Vista relaxed things and offered a “reduced-functionality mode,” which only let you log into your comptuer for an hour at a time.
Windows includes a process known as “Windows Activation.” This process activates your copy of Windows with Microsoft, and they check to make sure it’s a properly licensed copy.
It ensures your Windows license key is only being used on a single PC at a time and that thousands of PCs aren’t using the same key.
Windows also regularly checks to ensure that your key hasn’t been reported as pirated.This occurs when your computer tries to download optional updates from Microsoft — something that normally happens as part of the standard Windows Update process.If Microsoft’s servers tell Windows that it’s using a pirated or otherwise improperly licensed key, Windows will display a message saying that your copy of Microsoft Windows “is not genuine.” A typical Windows PC you buy will come with a pre-activated copy of Windows that’s properly licensed.This is only something you have to worry about if you build your own PC or upgrade to a different copy of Windows — if you install Windows yourself, in other words.If you purchase a used PC or another pre-built PC from a local computer store and see messages saying Windows isn’t genuine, they stuck you with a pirated copy of Windows to save money.That’s a big part of the point of the message — to make pirating more difficult for the pirates and have messages that let users know whether their computer has a pirated copy of Windows or not.