Using the same Windows 7 Key on multiple computers

GeneralHiningII

Honorable Member
#1
Preface: I'm building my own computer from scratch after having headaches with my current one (a Dell) for about 4 years. Seeing since it's come from Dell, they've saved me the pain of installing Windows 7 myself, and have also handily provided me with a sticker that displays Proof of License and Certificate of Authenticity.
On the top left bears the line "Windows 7 Pro OA" - from the research I've conducted I have come to the conclusion that OA means OEM (someone with experience please confirm), or non-transferable (again, please confirm).

However, from other sites/forums I've been on, people have been saying that I can use the same Windows 7 Key on different computers, but only on one at a time, and I must deactivate the first copy before registering it again. This advice logically (at least in my opinion) makes sense, because say the hard drive that has the original copy of Win7 crashes, and I get a new one which I'll probably have to reinstall Win7 on (although, being the amazing company they are, Dell will probably just recover any data and put it on to a new formatted hard drive for me).

What I've also found is I can use any Windows 7 Repair/Install disc and put that into the new computer, and enter in the old key (assuming I've deactivated it on my Dell computer, and I have internet connection).
What I've also found out is I can create a system image backup on to a flash drive and restore the new computer through this system image:
1) Create a System Image backup to the USB drive. When prompted to create a ‘System Repair’ disk, do so.

2) Shutdown the computer and remove the hard drive power and SATA connectors from your original Windows 7 hard drive and any additional internal hard drives.

3) Connect the power and SATA connector to the new hard drive. At this point this should be your only internal hard drive connected to the computer’s motherboard.

4) Boot from the ‘System Repair’ disc.

5) Verify the keyboard input method and click ‘Next’.

6) Select the ‘Restore your computer using a system image that you created’ option located in the lower left and click ‘Next’.

7) A scan for system images that are on your USB drive will begin. At completion of the scan you will have the option to ‘Use the latest available system image’ or ‘Select a system image’. Choose the recommended option and use the latest available system image and click ‘Next’.

8) Choose additional restore options: Note: The ‘Format and repartition disks’ option will be check marked but disabled/grayed out. Click ‘Next’.

9) The ‘Your computer will be restored from the following system image:’ information will be displayed. Click ‘Finish’.

10) Re-image Your Computer prompt. You will now see a pop up with the following message: All data to be restored will be formatted and replaced with the layout and data in the system image. Are you sure you want to continue? Click ‘Yes’.

11) Windows will now start restoring the image to the new hard drive.

12) At the completion of the image restoration your computer will reboot, sit back and wait for Windows to start and then logon as you normally do, then remove the System Repair disc.

13) You may be prompted to restart the computer to apply changes. Restart the computer.
from Page Start.

As far as I'm aware, this isn't illegal as I'm not distributing the software nor am I abusing it by using it on multiple computers, but using the same product key to move my copy of Windows 7 from an old hard drive to a newer and faster SSD.

Any help on this topic would be great.
 


Pauli

Extraordinary Member
Premium Supporter
#2
It's not really a matter of the Product Key, it's a matter of License. The Product Key gives you access to Windows, and that can be achieved / multiplied by several methods. The way to a legitimate Windows is through ownership of a License... and that is, principally, one License / one Windows.

It's a strictly legal matter, and what you seem to do is illegal. You have, most likely, the right to use Windows on one computer, which is the normal case. You may purchase several Licences, but you have to pay for them. Multiplying Windows, in whatever way, is illegal. Doesn't matter if you don't use the several programs simultaneously.
 


Sonny

Excellent Member
#4
I clicked on the link you gave and it said this thread not found. I do know I built a computer using my same case and to get it activated I had to call and explain to Microsoft that I had put a new motherboard and processor in my computer. I did use the same hard drive but they still had to go in and make changes for me in order to activate it. As Titanic said the License is good for just one computer. Give Microsoft a call and see what they say.
 


GeneralHiningII

Honorable Member
#5
Quote from the MVP who answered:
Hi,

That is a very common practice and usually there are not problems with Activating a re-installation.
For more information on Activating Windows check with this forum - top 5 threads are Sticky's
dealing with Activation Issues.
Answers - Windows 7 - Install, Upgrade, and Activate Forum
http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/forum/windows_7-windows_install
These should help :
If you have a problem using Activation :
1. Start - type in Search box --> SLUI.EXE 4 then hit ENTER
2. Select the Country
3. Select the Activation by Phone Option and wait for a representative to help
How to contact a Microsoft Product Activation Center
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/950929
Activate Windows on this computer
http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows7/activate-windows-7-on-this-computer
Activating Windows 7: frequently asked questions
http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows7/Activating-Windows-7-frequently-asked-questions
Windows 7 activation error: invalid product key
http://windows.microsoft.com/en-US/windows7/Windows-7-activation-error-invalid-product-key
Hope this helps.
Like you've described pretty much. However as far as I know OEM Windows isn't transferable but I'm not sure if the Windows I'm running is or isn't OEM - a quick check on price and retail Win7 Pro 64bit is 339$AUD, which is how much Dell sold Win7 to me. Knowing Dell though, it will probably is the OEM version.
 


davidhk129

Senior Member
#6
Quote from the MVP who answered:


Like you've described pretty much. However as far as I know OEM Windows isn't transferable but I'm not sure if the Windows I'm running is or isn't OEM - a quick check on price and retail Win7 Pro 64bit is 339$AUD, which is how much Dell sold Win7 to me. Knowing Dell though, it will probably is the OEM version.

If you bought the Win 7 separately, it came with a DVD and product key. If that is the case, then it is a retail version. Not an OEM version.
OEM version refers to the OS that is preinstalled in the computer before someone buys the computer.
 


Howard Walker

Honorable Member
#7
Simple solution. Never buy a computer with the OS pre-installed. It limits your choices dramatically.
If your new machine uses lots of different components - which it will, then even with an original genuine os disk, odds are that when you have it installed, it won't activate, as I believe that there is a limit to the number of items you can change before it becomes a new computer. Last year my motherboard died. The OS would not install with a new motherboard, so I ended up buying a similar one to the original on Ebay and that worked fine. Your licence is to use the OS on one computer only. If you have a friendly computer shop where you get your bits from, they may be able to get a new and modern motherboard accepted for you. If you need to install the old OS on a new drive, get a Western Digital disk drive, and use the software that comes pre installed to copy the old OS onto the new drive. I do this every three years before my drive wears out. Then I save the old drive as a back up for the data.
 


GeneralHiningII

Honorable Member
#8
Alright cool, thanks everyone for your replies. Seems like I'll just have to purchase a retail version of Windows.
 


Pauli

Extraordinary Member
Premium Supporter
#9
Simple solution. Never buy a computer with the OS pre-installed. It limits your choices dramatically.
I second that 100%. One problem is, if you buy a major company computer, the OS will be connected to that computer / other computers of the same manufacture. Thus, you can't use a Dell disk on a HP computer. It's not a definite truth, but pretty much so.

To buy the full stuff may cost, but it'll be ALL YOURS.

Cheerio :up:
 


Ralph Bromley

Extraordinary Member
#10
Yeah a good way to get around all this is to use an OEM copy of windows and be done with it.
Though if you are used to pre installed mnedia playback and stuff you are in for a real shock.
 


Andrea Borman

Honorable Member
#11
It's not really a matter of the Product Key, it's a matter of License. The Product Key gives you access to Windows, and that can be achieved / multiplied by several methods. The way to a legitimate Windows is through ownership of a License... and that is, principally, one License.
Actually you can use the same product key on another computer as I read on another forum of a user who did, and Windows did activate,though not more than 2 PCs. So if you try it on a third computer Windows won't activate with that product key.

Howard Walker said:
Simple solution. Never buy a computer with the OS pre-installed. It limits your choices dramatically.
Most laptops or computers you buy in stores are pre-installed with an OS. That's not a problem as you can always wipe that OS off and do a clean install of Windows 7 or Windows XP from scratch as long as you have the install DVD and valid product key. all of my netbooks came with Windows 7 Starter and other crap that the manufacturers put on. So what I do now when I buy a laptop is format the hard drive and install whatever version of Windows I want,Windows 7 or Windows 8,clean install.
 


Pauli

Extraordinary Member
Premium Supporter
#12
Most certainly, you can do lots of tricks here. My point is, the simple is valid. When you speak what is true, you don't need to think of what you've spoken. Legitimate licences are legitimate, and having one always provides you the possibility to contact Microsoft, with all support.

One may get access to Windows through a product key already used, but I wouldn't be sure it might not cause problems.
 


jmf1964

Well-Known Member
#13
Hi, I'm new here but wanted to add my experience to this thread. 2 years ago I built this computer (the one I'm typing on right now)
and bought windows 7, the package came with 2 discs, the 64bit version and the 32. I installed the 64 on this computer. Last week I installed the 32 bit version on another computer as ms no longer supports xp. I used the same cd key. Then I bought, from amazon, an oem builder version of win 7 and intended to use that cd key to activate the installation. As it turns out I didn't need it as windows activated with no complaints using the 2 year old cd key. The only explanation I can think of as to why is one is 64 bit and the other is 32.


John
 


Pauli

Extraordinary Member
Premium Supporter
#14
If you have both the 32 and 64 bit, they are legitimate, as such. They are actually two different OSs. There may be a clause in copyrights that says, only either the 32 or 64 bits may be installed = only one is allowed = another installation is illegal.

Functionally it may not be a problem, right away, but it may cause problems in future. To be sure, I suggest you contact Microsoft.
 


jmf1964

Well-Known Member
#15
I contacted Microsoft, they told me that in some cases the second install will activate without a hitch, BUT eventually their computers would notice the double activation and limit functionality on one or both until a new key was entered. She said the fact that one computer was running the 64 bit and the other one 32 would have nothing to do with the activation itself. So I have reactivated with my new cd key and everything should be ok now.

Thanks.
John
 


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