Software giant Microsoft has dismissed attacks by the UK trade body ITACS, which claims that retailers are being forced to turn away PC repairs because many copies of Windows cannot be verified.
The trade body asserts that a growing number of its members are unable to repair laptops because the Certificate of Authenticity stickers have been rubbed away, meaning resellers cannot obtain the licence number, costing them valuable business.
When contacted by PCR, Microsoft refuted the claims by ITACS that this is a widespread problem, and that the stickers are the only way of authenticating a copy of Windows.
"This is a new issue to us," commented Microsoft's senior director for OEM, Alison Dodd. "We have a call centre that takes around 50,000 calls per month and we've had around 20 to 25 calls regarding this. I would also like to add that ITACS has not made contact with either myself or the press office here.
"If a device is sold today with a preinstalled copy of Windows, it includes recovery media and a warranty, which should be kept safe. If there's no recovery media then the device should be sent back to the OEM; it's a relatively simple process for them to obtain a replacement COA if needed."
However, ITACS chairman Matthew Woolley maintains that the process is more complicated, and ultimately makes retailers suffer: "The issue for us is that for somebody making repairs, there is no way to recover the licence key. In addition, there's no legal obligation for the OEM to provide a warranty covering software, so they refer the customer or repair shop to Microsoft and so it goes on.
"The fact is that Microsoft is required to sell goods that are fit for purpose and these stickers don't do that, and Microsoft also says that if the sticker is illegible then it's counterfeit. It's really not helpful."
Microsoft has said that partners should contact 0870 607 0700 if they have these issues, while customers can activate – or reactivate – their products on 0800 018 8364, although they will have to answer some qualifying questions.