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I was using a Sony Laptop which crashed with a Graphic Card failure. Then I bought a another used Toshiba Laptop from a friend and replaced the hard disk from the hard disk from Sony Laptop.

It worked fine without any modifications. All the software worked in the Toshiba Laptop.

Now, since past few days, I am get the message saying that, Windows did not pass the validation test.

I have the genuine Windows Vista OS and the Product key, but I am using the hard disk in another Laptop.

Please let me how I can resolve this issue.

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What OS is the new laptop licensed for? Does it have a Certificate of Authenticity on the bottom? – nhinkle Apr 6 '11 at 22:45
up vote 2 down vote accepted

The way activation works for major computer manufacturers (OEMs) is that they have one license key which works for all of their brand's computers. There is a special file on the computer which checks the BIOS manufacturer and activation information in the BIOS. If the license matches the computer manufacturer, then it activates automatically. Because your new laptop is from a different manufacturer, it will not automatically activate. There are a few ways around this.

  1. If you still have the original hard drive from the new Toshiba laptop, and it is the same version of Windows (Windows Vista Home Premium), you can copy the OEM activation files from it over to the new laptop and activate it yourself. There are instructions online for how to do this for Windows 7; the process should be the same.

  2. Call Microsoft and reactive it manually. Because you transfered part of the hardware over, you may be able to convince them that it should still count as OEM license transfer with hardware.

  3. Find the product key on the bottom of the new laptop, again assuming it's the same version of Windows, and change it in the OS to that. Go to My Computer, click System Properties, and choose Change Product Key under the Activation section.

You may find the recent Super User Community Blog post about Microsoft Licensing useful for reference.

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Isn't 1 illegal? 2 is worth a try but they generally refer you to the OEM (and Sony will tell you to go die in a fire). 3 generally won't work. Still, better to try than give up entirely I suppose. – Shinrai Apr 6 '11 at 22:35
When you call in to activate, Microsoft is mainly concerned about the number of computers that this OS is installed on. As long as that number is 1, they are generally okay with activating your OS. – Doltknuckle Apr 6 '11 at 22:39
@Shinrai 1 is totally legal. The license was on that computer, and you're putting it right back on that same computer, just with a different hard drive. 100% legal. I've called Microsoft activation many times before while setting up computers before and they're almost always helpful and usually give the benefit of the doubt. Three does work indeed, you just might have to call the hotline. I've done it before. – nhinkle Apr 6 '11 at 22:42
@nhinkle - The blog post you linked has this direct excerpt from the TOS: "a. One Copy per Computer. The software license is permanently assigned to the computer with which the software is distributed. That computer is the “licensed computer.”" And I used to work for an OEM...I would constantly have customers saying that Microsoft sent them back to us the second they gave the license key. – Shinrai Apr 6 '11 at 22:48
@nhinkle - Oh, maybe I'm confused actually. You said "The license was on that computer, and you're putting it right back on that same computer, just with a different hard drive." Don't you actually have to reinstall to technically be in compliance? Just like if you install Windows with an MSDN key but then use it for non-dev purposes, you're technically supposed to reinstall rather than just changing the key? (This also presupposes that A: He has the Toshiba hard drive and B: It had Vista) – Shinrai Apr 6 '11 at 22:53

The OEM volume image that came installed on the hard drive is valid only for Sony laptops and Sony motherboards, and is not licensed for use on that Toshiba hardware. There is no way to legally resolve this short of buying a new copy of Windows and reinstalling (or, alternately, installing a legally licensed Toshiba image on your old Sony hard drive in the Toshiba machine).

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I do have a genuine Windows 7, but I donot want to waste time at this point in time in reinstalling everything. Is there any way (legal ofcourse) that I could pass the validation for Windows authenticity ? – Apr 6 '11 at 22:28
Your Windows may be genuine but it is NOT licensed for use in this manner. That is why you are failing activation. The remedy is to purchased a license that IS licensed for use in this manner. – Shinrai Apr 6 '11 at 22:34
It really depends on what the license was on the used computer. If the used computer was licensed for Windows Vista as well, it is 100% legal and 100% possible to use it in the way @Kiran wants to. – nhinkle Apr 6 '11 at 22:44

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