Microsoft has changed the way they make Windows COA stickers over the years and I’m not happy about it. Windows certificate of authenticity (COA) sticker is a sticker that is placed on a computer and goes along with the operating system that was installed when you first bought it. This very important sticker has a one of a kind unique group of numbers and letters on it. There are a total of twenty five numbers and letters on the COA. There are five groups of five totaling 25 that must be visible and readable when you go to activate Windows after a reinstall. An example of a COA number would be HY76B-KLS78-9T7HN-2B8GD

In 2001 and later when Windows XP was introduced and installed onto a laptop the COA was a glossy sticker on the bottom. The benefits of a glossy sticker is that it can take a lot of abuse and not get worn off. The stickers would last for years and it was easy to read the numbers and letters.

Fast forward to the year 2007 and Microsoft releases Windows Vista and sure enough they changed the sticker from being glossy to a non glossy finish. There is a reason car decals are glossy and not paper like. They would look like shit and wear off in no time if they were paper like, but that’s what Microsoft did. People would use their laptops on their laps and the sweat and constant rubbing would make the COA unreadable.

My theory behind this is that Microsoft wanted one more way to generate revenue. A COA is like a dollar bill if you have it in your possession it is worth something to you, but if you throw it in a fire the dollar bill is no longer yours and worth nothing to you. Your worn off sticker would make it impossible to reinstall Windows if your hard drive fails. It would be one more hurdle to cross and maybe you would just opt for a new laptop instead. Another theory is Microsoft made the COA more paper like to thread the security ribbons into it.

Let me show you some examples. This first one is a a Windows XP COA sticker, it’s hard to tell but it has a glossy finish on the sticker.


XP COA sticker











And here is a Windows Vista COA cert that is totally worn off from being on the bottom of a laptop. Welcome to Microsoft’s world of revenue generation!

Vista COA worn off

Vista COA worn off