HOW TO AVOID THE SOFTWARE "PRELOAD" SCAM
I have noticed that people are trying to warn others of the dangers of buying a PC with out the correct Windows Certification of Authenticity. I wanted to add my own guide to this as working in compter retail for over 10 years I know first hand just how much of this "preloaded" Windows is going on.
Usually if a deal is too good to be true, it is. Retail value of say Windows XP Professional is £125 inc vat - so be wary of extreemly cheap machines that offer Windows installed. Always make sure you are getting a COA (usually in the form of a sticker on the side of the machine) and a CD / Backup. Ask for a photo of the machine with the stciker actually on.
Many machines now come with a copy of the Windows certificate as a stciker on a sellophane wrapper. DO NOT THROW THIS AWAY. The sticker with the numbers on is the thing that costs the money - not the actual thing you see on your screen.
If your machine was to have a software / hardware failure and the machine needs to be formatted, if you have not been provided with a COA for the Windows that you are using, you will need to buy a genuine copy of Windows adding to your expense. Also, a way to find if you have been scammed is if the Windows updates work correctly, as Windows checks to see if your copy is genuine.
Microsoft spend millions of dollars trying to weed out these rip off merchants and together with Microsoft Partners such as ourselves we try to warn as many people as possible, that thier nice cheap machine may just turn out to be more costly than they think.