Windows 10 Key: Mail from the public prosecutor's office because of illegal licences

Well, have you looked in the letterbox today? It’s possible that you’ll find a letter in there whose sender will make your blood pressure soar. It could be a summons from the public prosecutor. And if, when reading the contents, you remember that you bought a „super-cheap“ Windows 10 key at an „absolute bargain price“ at some point in the past, it might put you in a worse mood. The question is: Was everything legal at the time of purchase – or was it illegal? Windows Key illegal? And above all: What are the bona fide buyers facing now?

The subpoena is about the Windows key

In the past few years, Windows Keys were repeatedly offered on well-known sales and auction platforms, some of which were considerably below the normal sales price Buyers of such cheap Windows 10 licences are now to make statements to the public prosecutor’s office about the facts of the case. This concerns both the version Windows 10 Home as well as Windows 10 Pro.

The question is: Did one commit a criminal offence by purchasing it?

First of all, the subpoena is about clarifying whether the suspicion of „criminal copyright infringement“ or „reckless money laundering“ is justified .

The argument:

Looking at the actual price of a Windows 10 Key (starting at about 145 euros), as offered by Microsoft, everyone should have noticed immediately that something could be wrong and that the Windows Key might be illegal. After all, neither Windows 10 Pro nor Windows 10 Home can be had for a price of just 10 euros. However, the public prosecutor’s office mainly wants to get on the trail of those behind the scenes who are selling Windows 10 keys or Microsoft applications extremely cheaply. If you are affected, you should still contact a lawyer in the event of a summons.

Is my Windows 10 Key illegal?

Yes and no. Because the trade in second-hand software is basically legal in Europe (unlike in the USA, for example) The problem is that quite a few dealers acquire the Windows keys illegally and then resell them on Ebay or Amazon, for example. It is also forbidden to use the keys more than once. The prerequisite for a legal sale, for example of a Windows 10 key, is that the dealer provides certified proof of the origin of the Windows key. Above all, the product key must have been properly deactivated before the sale. If these basics are met, the Windows 10 licence is legal. If not, then it is illegal software.

How to recognise a legally resold Windows 10 Key

Who would have thought that not only Windows, Office and other Microsoft applications can be legally sold? Even OEM or system builder versions of Windows can be resold without any problems as long as they are legal licences. Unfortunately, there are also many black sheep on the marketplaces. These tips help you to recognise whether the seller of the Windows 10 key is a reputable provider – or someone with whom you run the risk of being dragged before the judge:

  • The packaging of the boxed Windows or Office licence must be complete, i.e. it must also contain the official product card including the product key.
  • The dealer must be able to provide proof of where he himself acquired the used licence keys.
  • The Windows key must be activated directly at Microsoft and not via a third-party website
  • In addition, the product key may not be activated more than once by different users.

Additional tip: If you are unsure – Microsoft itself offers the product information service to check whether the software is legal. Here, after entering some data, you can quickly see whether you will soon have to expect unpleasant mail from the public prosecutor.

We have also described in detail which Windows 10 version is the right one for private users, companies or schools in our blog article.

Header image: © monticellllo,