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How Do Windows Product Keys Work? RRS feed

  • Question

  • Is a product key tied to a specific copy of Windows 7? Let's say you want to reinstall Windows 7 on your machine, but you can't find your installation disk. Can you just write your product key and then borrow someone else's Windows 7 disc for the installation (and then activate it with your product key)? Do they have to have the same version of Windows as you (Ulimate, Home, Pro...etc)? Or are all installation disks for Windows the same and your product key determines what features are "unlocked," and thus which version is ultimately installed.

    My specific situation is this. I have an Acer Aspire Revo computer with Windows 7 Home premium. The hardware on this machine is a little weak, and I would like to replace it with a better, custom built computer. Perhaps I could use a program like Acronis to make a backup image of the Acer computer and then restore onto the new machine. But I would prefer to just do a fresh install if it is possible. And I would also like to save a little money and avoid purchasing a new copy of Windows 7 if that is possible.

    I appreciate the help!

     

    Thursday, December 23, 2010 3:45 AM

Answers

  • A Windows OEM license is permanently tied to the original computer it was installed and activated on.  In your case, the Acer pre-installed OEM Windows license cannot be used on any other computer.  For a new computer, you will need to purchase a new genuine Windows 7 "Full Version" license which can be purchased from the  Microsoft Store.

    Your Acer issued product key will only work with Acer recovery media, and the Acer recovery media will only work on an Acer computer having a Windows 7 compliant ACPI_SLIC table that is checked upon starting to verify its activation and licensing compliance status.

    See: Acer Recovery Media Purchase Program


    Carey Frisch

    • Marked as answer by Pull n Pray Thursday, December 23, 2010 10:51 PM
    Thursday, December 23, 2010 4:16 AM
    Moderator
  • "Pull n Pray" wrote in message news:61e48daf-30fe-44e2-8a1e-28282c94e0cc...
    So what about when you buy an OEM copy of Windows and put it on a machine that you build yourself. I had an OEM copy of Windows XP that started off on one machine, moved to another, and then moved yet again, this time being installed as a virtual machine on top of VMWare software. I never had any problem with the license, and I didn't think I was doing anything wrong since I was only using the Windows software on one machine at a time. Is it different for OEM Windows that you get from real manufacturers? And what constitutes a computer? Is it the motherboard? The case? What if you want to upgrade those things?

    In MS's eyes, changing the motherboard creates a new computer - pretty much everything else is up for grabs.. OEMs are allowed to change the board on failure under warranty, and re-use the same license, but not to upgrade the board.
    With System Builder OEM licenses the situation is a little more complex, since the builder/owner can be the OEM. MS seems to be a little inconsistent in the way it handles such cases, and some are waved through, while others are refused. In all cases, telephone activation should be required, and it may be a case of some people being a little 'economical with the truth' that gets them through the process OK

    --


    Noel Paton | Nil Carborundum Illegitemi | CrashFixPC | The Three-toed Sloth
    • Marked as answer by Pull n Pray Thursday, December 23, 2010 10:51 PM
    Thursday, December 23, 2010 10:33 PM
    Moderator

All replies

  • A Windows OEM license is permanently tied to the original computer it was installed and activated on.  In your case, the Acer pre-installed OEM Windows license cannot be used on any other computer.  For a new computer, you will need to purchase a new genuine Windows 7 "Full Version" license which can be purchased from the  Microsoft Store.

    Your Acer issued product key will only work with Acer recovery media, and the Acer recovery media will only work on an Acer computer having a Windows 7 compliant ACPI_SLIC table that is checked upon starting to verify its activation and licensing compliance status.

    See: Acer Recovery Media Purchase Program


    Carey Frisch

    • Marked as answer by Pull n Pray Thursday, December 23, 2010 10:51 PM
    Thursday, December 23, 2010 4:16 AM
    Moderator
  • Thanks for the reply Carey.

    So what about when you buy an OEM copy of Windows and put it on a machine that you build yourself. I had an OEM copy of Windows XP that started off on one machine, moved to another, and then moved yet again, this time being installed as a virtual machine on top of VMWare software. I never had any problem with the license, and I didn't think I was doing anything wrong since I was only using the Windows software on one machine at a time. Is it different for OEM Windows that you get from real manufacturers? And what constitutes a computer? Is it the motherboard? The case? What if you want to upgrade those things?

    Thursday, December 23, 2010 10:07 PM
  • "Pull n Pray" wrote in message news:61e48daf-30fe-44e2-8a1e-28282c94e0cc...
    So what about when you buy an OEM copy of Windows and put it on a machine that you build yourself. I had an OEM copy of Windows XP that started off on one machine, moved to another, and then moved yet again, this time being installed as a virtual machine on top of VMWare software. I never had any problem with the license, and I didn't think I was doing anything wrong since I was only using the Windows software on one machine at a time. Is it different for OEM Windows that you get from real manufacturers? And what constitutes a computer? Is it the motherboard? The case? What if you want to upgrade those things?

    In MS's eyes, changing the motherboard creates a new computer - pretty much everything else is up for grabs.. OEMs are allowed to change the board on failure under warranty, and re-use the same license, but not to upgrade the board.
    With System Builder OEM licenses the situation is a little more complex, since the builder/owner can be the OEM. MS seems to be a little inconsistent in the way it handles such cases, and some are waved through, while others are refused. In all cases, telephone activation should be required, and it may be a case of some people being a little 'economical with the truth' that gets them through the process OK

    --


    Noel Paton | Nil Carborundum Illegitemi | CrashFixPC | The Three-toed Sloth
    • Marked as answer by Pull n Pray Thursday, December 23, 2010 10:51 PM
    Thursday, December 23, 2010 10:33 PM
    Moderator
  • Now that you mention it, I do remember having to talk to MS on the phone once about that Windows XP license. I never really understood the difference between retail and OEM versions, but now it makes more sense.
    Thursday, December 23, 2010 10:50 PM