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I want to buy a copy of Windows 7 OEM for my PC so I can run Adobe Premiere on a 64 bit OS. However, there seems to be a problem with OEM copies as some people say that once you install them you can't reinstall them if you upgrade your PC and replace the motherboard.

This is a problem because in a couple months I'm planning on upgrading from my Quad core LGA 755 to a Quad Core 1155 chipset. I don't want to lose my money if I can't do a fresh install at that point and call up Microsoft to activate my licence.

So is this true? Do you have to by another OEM copy when you upgrade your PC?

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See also: FAQ about Windows licensing –  nhinkle Jul 4 '11 at 6:25

4 Answers 4

up vote 8 down vote accepted

True, Windows OEM software is tied to the original hardware it was either sold with or Installed on for life once the software has been activated.

However I have heard of people calling the Microsoft Activation hotline and getting it re-activated after moving to new hardware, I consider this social engineering.

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Source of Information found under section "System Builder Licensing"

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@Moab: Regarding "social engineering," that term only qualifies if lying was involved. When one tells the truth to the Activation Centre, and they make the decision that it's okay, then that's not social engineering -- it's a decision by Microsoft to activate the license on the new hardware. Lying about the situation is definitely wrong, and I would agree that it must be discouraged if it can't be prevented. –  Randolf Richardson Apr 21 '11 at 16:26
    
    
Social engineering does not always involve lying, sorry, sometimes it is an omission of some of the facts, that is why it is called engineering. Regardless, Microsoft has stated what the rules are, if the MS employees break them it does not make it legal or moral for either party involved. –  Moab Apr 21 '11 at 16:35
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I don't fully agree with your view of what Social Engineering is -- in my view if important information is omitted, then it is a lie. When I recommended "tell the truth to the Activation Centre," I didn't mean that people should omit important information. –  Randolf Richardson Apr 21 '11 at 18:29
    
Omission is not lying by definition, but you are allowed to think anything you like and have your own idea's. I was just posting the facts. –  Moab Apr 21 '11 at 19:18

No, it's not true as far as I know. The requirement to purchase an OEM copy of Windows is that it be purchased with some new hardware. Since you're buying a new motherboard, that definitely should qualify (if not, then just buy some RAM or a USB memory stick, which also qualifies according to the rules). Whoever sells you the OEM license will know these rules, and will be able to give you the proper advice on purchasing requirements.

If you have a failing part, it's totally unreasonable to say that you can't re-install your software after replacing that part. In this case, the part is a major one.

When you're on the phone with the Microsoft Activation Centre, just tell them the truth -- that you have a new motherboard. As long as you don't use the same license on another machine (including one that may be running the old motherboard), you'll be fine.

In my experience, I've rarely had to call the Microsoft Activation Centre to get things straightened out, and when I did it was only when multiple parts had to be changed at once (e.g., motherboard and hard drive, because the customer decided, as a matter of convenience, to upgrade to a larger hard disk while the failed motherboard was being replaced).

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This is also incorrect. The OEM license fundamentally just means that it is tied to a specific machine and the license once activated can't be transferred to another machine later. The answer by @Moab addresses the topic more fully. –  Tall Jeff Apr 21 '11 at 18:13
    
@Tall Jeff: I appreciate that you're supporting the license terms that Moab quoted, but Microsoft does get the last word on it -- if the Microsoft Activation Centre decides whether or not a computer that got a new motherboard and hard drive can be transferred, then I'm going to assume that they understand the licensing terms better than I do. So far, they've always transferred it on the few occasions I had to speak with a real person there. –  Randolf Richardson Apr 21 '11 at 19:03

I have to say, unless you are in fact an OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) it is already a violation of Microsoft's license terms to use OEM Windows. Just buy a regular retail license and you won't have to worry about any of this.

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You are incorrect. The OEM license fundamentally just means that it is tied to a specific machine. The answer by @Moab addresses the topic more fully. –  Tall Jeff Apr 21 '11 at 18:11
    
This is incorrect in that you can purchase legitimate OEM licensed OS from a retailer (such as newegg) which is for system builders. The system builder must provide support. It is correct that you can not repurpose a DELL OEM license from your sister's laptop... –  horatio Apr 21 '11 at 18:38
    
Actually, there are "OEM" and "OEM System Builders" versions. –  Xeoncross Apr 22 '11 at 15:43
    
@Xeoncross: The "OEM System Builders" installation discs are not for resale, and are intended only for use by those who build computers for their customers. I believe the installation is a bit different on those in that you can install without a Product Key, but then the end-user can't actually use it without entering a valid Product Key. For system builders, this is very useful. –  Randolf Richardson Apr 22 '11 at 17:12

I have never had to call MS Activation center to install or reinstall any of my OEM System builder Win7's. If fact its quite the opposite. I can install my OEM version on serveral machine at the same time and all of them will activate and update. I found this out when I wanted to see how my Vista laptop ran under win7 so I installed my desktop version. When I didnt have an activation issue I installed win7 on my htpc to see if it would trigger something; still no issues with it on any of the 3 systems. All have their own copies of win7 now btw; that was just a test that I did to see what MS would do which was nothing.

With the retail versions I have to call MS after activating about 3 times. Such a pain. And OEM's like HP and Dells are even more restricted; allowing them to only be installed on a few models of motherboards.

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