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I'd like to get my hands on to legal Windows XP keys so that I could setup a few virtual machines. I'm a software developer and this would be greatly useful.

I'm willing to buy them (cheaply) if needed but I've not been able to identify a source for legal Windows XP keys. Is it possible for a previous user to resell Windows XP or is this against Microsoft's terms?

I am aware of MSDN Subscriptions, but I was hoping to keep this entire project within $50 (USD). I only need two to four keys...

(Note: The legal portion is extremely important. I don't even want to be in the gray here...)

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8 Answers 8

up vote 15 down vote accepted

Retail copies of XP can be resold with no problem. OEM copies are tied to the machine (specifically, the motherboard) and therefore non-resaleable after install. Also, you want to have physical possession of the sticker the key is on.

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Are you in a startup? If so, BizSpark may be useful.

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I've looked in to that. Its a good idea but this is for personal use -- open source software. I don't think I'd qualify. –  Frank V Jul 21 '09 at 18:48
3  
You might qualify. All you need is a website, address, business name, and maybe one or two other things. I'd check it out. –  tim Jul 21 '09 at 19:23

Newegg is still selling XP Pro licenses, but they are very expensive at $440 for a 3-pack or $140 for a single license.

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It looks as though those offers have expired. –  Craig McQueen May 16 '11 at 4:36

Soeone else mentioned bizspark and you questioned if you were eligible:

Taken from the MS pdf

Startup Eligibility Requirements: An eligible startup must have the following characteristics at the time of joining:

• Actively engaged in development of a software-based product or service that will form a core piece of its current or intended business

• Privately held

• In business for less than 3 years

• Less than US $1 million in annual revenue.

I think that even a personal project would fit that. Their goal I think is to win back some of the people who have been leaving the MS platform for Linux and Mac.

I'd investigate if I were you. All it would take is a domain name and email with that domain that was hosted anywhere. You also have to provide a website with contact info. (I might be confusing this with one of their other programs, but they may be the same)

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I'll give it a try. I have a domain name and a valid email to that domain name. It could be considered a business, if I wanted to think of it like that. –  Frank V Jul 21 '09 at 19:51

Have you tried eBay or Craigslist for old retail copies of Windows XP?

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No. I didn't want to contend with software pirates reselling stolen or made up keys... Have you had luck with this in the past? –  Frank V Jul 21 '09 at 18:52
3  
Not on eBay specifically, but in person deals have worked well. Actual CD with the certificate of authenticity are what is best to personally check for before buying. –  Chealion Jul 21 '09 at 18:59

You could always save your money and download Virtual PC images from Microsoft, although you'd have to get new ones every few months.

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If you already have XP installed as the host, I have been told you can legally isntall and run up to 4 virtual instances with the same key. Something I was told at a Microsoft TechEd Conference.

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eBay should be a good way for most people to get it. You don't have to worry about counterfeits if you pay attention to their feedback scores and reviews (nobody is going to blow a 10,000 rep for $50), and make sure to open a dispute in time if it does turn out to be counterfeit to get your money back. Plus, if you find someone in your area, you can opt for local-pickup and meet them in person to examine it yourself and save on shipping.

Another option is online classifieds. That way, you can meet the seller in person and examine it as with a local-pickup. Many countries have Kijiji (renamed to eBay Classifieds in the USA) and others that don't usually have some sort of local counterpart. It is indispensable because it greatly helps to reduce waste by making it easier for people to buy and sell locally. I highly recommend it for general use.

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