Legal/licensing question about re-installing XP.
October 7, 2005 9:58 AM   Subscribe

A question about the legality/kosherness of re-installing Windows XP on a machine that has a legit product number. More inside.

We have a "new" machine at work (actually a used one we bought that was originally owned by a local business) that we need to re-install XP Pro on. The current install was irreparably fuXored, at least in my view. It has a legitimate XP Pro product number on a sticker on the case, but the original disk(s) that came with the machine are gone. Using an XP install disk that came with one of our other machines and the number off the case, I've managed to re-install from scratch, but have not yet tried to activate.

A) Is this kosher legally?
B) Will I have any trouble activating this machine online?
posted by deadcowdan to Computers & Internet (6 answers total)
as a former xp tech support guy, i can tell you that microsoft does not support using product keys with different copies. in the eula it mentions you can only use the copy of XP with one computer. you can call MS tech support at 866-234-6020 (no charge for install issues).
posted by donth at 10:26 AM on October 7, 2005

You shouldn't have trouble activating it because that is based on the XP Key and version of XP installed, it doesn't differentiate between two CDs of the same version of XP.

Microsoft does allow purchasing a second key for another computer in your house at a slight discount when bought without a disc. So it will work just fine.

As for legality, it is a grey area I think. Best to call MS and ask nicely.
posted by riffola at 10:31 AM on October 7, 2005

Legally? That really depends... It will not comply with the license agreement. Corporate install CDs don't require activation, so they are no trouble at all.

donth, isn't a Windows license considered by Microsoft to be none transferable? Which is to say, Microsoft considers the only legitimate user to be the person who bought it new.
posted by Chuckles at 10:35 AM on October 7, 2005

Your license is the key written on the holographic sticker. If you were able to install using the disk you have then that key is compatible and you are OK. MS of course would like you to buy another copy of windows (they'd like you to buy another copy every time you reinstall if they could get away with it) but effectively the sticker is the license.

You shouldn't have any problems activating. The hardware signature associated with that key that was produced when Windows was first setup will match.
posted by Mitheral at 10:39 AM on October 7, 2005

Yeah, the only issue you might have with the key is making sure it's the same kind of install disk. Ie, if the key is for an OEM copy then a corporate install won't do it. When I was doing installs for customers I kept a copy of each kind of disk in a folder and only used the package contents for the key - the disk rarely left the folder.
posted by phearlez at 11:08 AM on October 7, 2005

You should be fine, aside from technical issues like an OEM copy (I've never had problems). This is completely legal, even though MS would prefer you don't resell their software.
posted by geoff. at 12:15 PM on October 7, 2005

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