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I have two identical machines (Dell Vostro 200).

Machine A has a dead hard disk, Machine B has a dead motherboard.

Can i swap the hard disk from machine B to A ?

It has Windows Vista Business installed which came with the machine.

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Generally, as long as the chipset doesn't change, that will work just fine.

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I was worried about windows thinking it is no longer genuine since the hardware would have changed. – dev5 Sep 18 '10 at 20:56
If that was the case then no one would be able to upgrade their machines – MaQleod Sep 18 '10 at 21:25
No, MaQleod, if the serial number of an essential hardware piece changes then the chance on no longer being genuine is high... But he should indeed not worry, if it's a long time since he last installed it isn't so hard to reactivate Windows through a phone call. Just don't tell that you changed to another computer, explain that you replaced the hard drive and have done a reinstall... :-) – Tom Wijsman Sep 18 '10 at 21:41
Its been a while since I've installed windows and needed to activate anything. I've never had an issue with upgrading and migrating like this, but its always been with XP or earlier. I've had to deal with re-activation a few times when I worked at best buy, it is a really simple process. – MaQleod Sep 19 '10 at 5:07

Yes, you should be able to do this without a problem, although it may require that you do a repair install. The worst case scenario is that along with the repair install, you'll have to re-activate windows, which is perfectly fine, even with OEM licenses, since you're essentially replacing a faulty component.

In any case, to keep you completely legal, you will want to change the product key to the one that came with the computer that still has the good motherboard. I know that it's in the System control panel in Windows 7, but I don't know if that's the case for Vista.

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I'm not exactly sure how the Bill Gates mini-me inside your pc checks for genuity... Even though I've been browsing through their website on activation, but I say put it in and see what happens. If there is a conflict, then contact Microsoft and they are willing to help you though getting the key to work:

Q: What do I do if my system fails validation, but I am certain that I purchased/have a genuine copy of Windows?

A: When a copy of Windows fails validation, the user is directed to a customized Web page with details about what caused the failure and recommendations for how to fix the problem. This page contains a section with troubleshooting steps. One of these steps will let you check to see whether you can use the online Product Key Update Tool. If your computer came with a genuine product key, but Windows was improperly installed using an invalid product key, the Product Key Update Tool helps convert your computer to a genuine status without having to purchase a new copy of Windows. If this solution does not work, refer to the instructions above (really below) for what to do when your system fails validation.

This is the above part mentioned.

Q: What if my copy of Windows fails the validation process and I believe I have received pirated software?

A: When a copy of Windows fails validation, the user is directed to a customized Web page with details about what caused the failure and recommendations for how to fix the problem. Depending on the specific cause of the problem, these recommendations include:

Visit the Microsoft How to Tell website to learn how to determine whether your copy of Windows is genuine Microsoft software. If you believe you received pirated software, you will be able to file a report with Microsoft so we can investigate further. Check to see whether you qualify for a complimentary replacement CD from Microsoft. Purchase a genuine copy of Windows from Microsoft online or from your local reseller. Visit the Microsoft Genuine Advantage Support page for more information.

Hope this helps.

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