I want to install Windows XP on my Mac using Parallels, but I am Failing
March 31, 2013 3:27 PM   Subscribe

Dell says I can't use my OS disks to install Windows on my Mac. Is this true?

I finally managed to dig out my operating system disks for the laptop I had in college. I would like to install Windows XP on my Mac using Parallels, but the installation keeps failing. I called Dell and they said that the disks that come with a Dell PC cannot be installed on other computers. Is this true? There is no way to work around it? I would greatly prefer not to buy the operating system when I have the disks sitting right here...but I don't have any idea how to solve this problem on my own!

Thank you
posted by jefficator to Computers & Internet (7 answers total)
The license that comes with the Dell computer is only for the Dell computer that you have. It is not for use in any other computer than that one. Technically, you have to pay for the license to use Windows on your Mac.

Dell's discs are usually keyed on only work with the Dell hardware, which is why you cannot install it on the Mac.
posted by deezil at 3:47 PM on March 31, 2013

I think some OEM versions of Windows have install checks to see if they're going onto that OEM's hardware (perhaps even a specific model). Your Parallels virtual machine probably can't pretend to be a Dell enough to fool the installer.

You might be able to kludge it by installing onto a disk plugged into an actual Dell laptop, then put the laptop disk into a USB enclosure and hook that up to your Mac. It'll be a fair bit of work, and possibly fragile (if you ever need to update or upgrade the OS, it might stop working in the VM).

Frankly, vanilla versions of Windows are cheap enough, it makes sense to have a copy for purposes like this. I think you can even buy Windows through the Parallels UI.
posted by spacewrench at 3:48 PM on March 31, 2013

Having tried to install various OEM versions of Windows on other machines I can 3rd what's been said above. It will recognize it's not on the hardware it's supposed to be on and will not install. Or will install with weird drivers and in Trial Mode and you'll need to buy a new license key anyway.

Dell gets a discount on Windows licenses to do it this way.

So yeah, unless you're pirating a copy, you pretty much have to buy a new license. (Also a cheaper upgrade is unlikely to work for the same reasons. It needs a legit copy to upgrade.)

When I purchased Parallels they offered a discount on the current version of Windows when bought together.
posted by Ookseer at 3:57 PM on March 31, 2013

Well where can I download Windows 7 online then? I have no interest in Windows 8, and the Microsoft store only offers it.
posted by jefficator at 3:59 PM on March 31, 2013

From here, jefficator.
posted by Effigy2000 at 4:27 PM on March 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

I know that it is possible to use the Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005 reinstall disk from a Dell computer to install Windows on a Mac under Parallels 7.
posted by Joleta at 4:58 PM on March 31, 2013

The worst case is that it won't activate, which will mean your desktop background turns black and you get warning messages that you might be a victim of software piracy. Windows update won't work automatically.

That's it.
posted by odinsdream at 4:27 AM on April 1, 2013

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