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After a brief flirt with Linux, I want to install the original Windows in my laptop. But I discovered my linux install totally deleted the partition where the factory windows image was stored.

I can I legally install Windows with my Laptop's license key?

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Yes, it should be absolutely fine to install the copy of Windows that came with your laptop. Go for it!

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Or, do the also legal thing, download an OEM ISO for the windows version your laptop came with (in my case a dell XP Pro) and use the key on the bottom of your laptop.

Completely legal, as you have the key and you are using the source media to restore your devices factory state.

When I had to do this I contacted both Microsoft and dell, they didn't like the fact I'd already downloaded the ISO, but said there was no legal issue using it since I would be using a valid key for it.

Hope this helps.

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Call the manufacturer that you acquired the laptop from and they should send you a disc if the laptop came preinstalled.

I've done this with a dell laptop that I owned. Took awhile to get the disc tho (couple of weeks)

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The hardest part is convincing Dell such a thing as an install disc exists, and if you are out of warranty, that it can be purchased without buying extended warranty support. These things are possible, but first you have to cycle through half a dozen clueless sales reps and tech support types until you can find one that can help you. Prepare to spend 2-3 hours on the phone. – kmarsh Jul 6 '10 at 18:07
@kmarsh I don't know who you were talking to, but I am sure they know they have such discs. 2 jobs ago we had so many Dell Windows XP Pro discs, we didn't know what to do with them all. I do know, however, other companies will make you jump through hoops to get it. I know Sony doesn't even publish their drivers online for their computers, you need to keep the original disc. – Nathan Adams Jul 6 '10 at 19:31

Check the answers to this ServerFault question.

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In short, yes you can because you have a legal key. In reality, when you buy big software like Windows you are buying not the disk but the license key to use said disk.

Might I suggest the links here? I've used them on 6 machines now and they work perfectly.

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