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Where do I download Windows 7 (legally from Microsoft)?

I am repairing a friend's computer. The computer came with Windows 7 home premium. She has a valid license key and everything and the machine is a Dell. The problem I have is that the harddrive went bad and the only way to restore the OS was apparently through the recovery partition on the dead harddrive.

What would be the best way of getting ahold of a copy of Windows 7?

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marked as duplicate by Oliver Salzburg Nov 4 '12 at 16:05

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3 Answers

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Yes, there is a legal way. The easiest way is to order backup/reinstall media from this page on Dell's support site.

Alternatively, if you know anybody who owns a Windows 7 Home Premium disk, you can use theirs to do the reinstall, then enter the key on the computer's COA. If the disk you use to reinstall is from Dell, then you won't need to activate, because OEM disks activate automatically on computers from that manufacturer, but if it is a different manufacturer's disk or a retail disk, you will need to do activation. If it is not a Dell disk though you will likely need to call Microsoft in the process of activating. If you have access to a Windows 7 disk for a different version (Pro, Ultimate, etc.) you can create yourself an "any-version" installer disk and use that.

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Does that page provide the ability to download the ISO? It looks like they ship you the discs, unless I missed something. The question was specifically about legally obtaining an ISO image. –  indyK1ng Aug 23 '10 at 3:54
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Ah, sorry for missing that. Dell does not offer a way to download it that I'm aware of. You could download the ISO for the trial version of Windows 7 Enterprise (technet.microsoft.com/en-us/cc442495.aspx) then use the method I linked to above for converting the image to install any version, then install using that. –  nhinkle Aug 23 '10 at 4:20
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The legal way to do this is contact Dell. They'll be able to send you a Windows 7 disc for the computer, but they'll likely charge a small fee (usually $10 or $15) for the service.

As for legally-questionable options, you need to be careful. OEM product keys often won't activate non-OEM images, and sometimes images are even tied to a specific manufacturer.

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If you have an OEM key you can't use standard install disks, and even if they accept the key, you won't be able to activate. The preinstalled Windows copy uses a different key and is already activated. Your best bet is to get a copy of the restore DVD from Dell, otherwise you probably need another copy.

This is why retail licenses are more flexible than OEM, among other things.

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