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I recently had to buy a new copy of W7 (since I could not face reinstalling Vista - W7 Home upgrade - W7 Ultimate upgrade, which was what I was using until Windows Explorer died on me). Fortunately I had 2 hard discs on a nice large machine, installed the new copy, bought on Amazon on disk D, and still had all my old files accessible without reloading them etc. (Yes of course I had to re-install a number of programs, but I knew it wouldn't be entirely painless)

Now - two weeks later - Microsoft tells me that my new copy of W7 Ultimate is not genuine and blocks the product key. I have asked the supplier for any info and am waiting for Microsoft (whom Heaven preserve for a worse fate than I think of right now) to tell me what is going on.

I have been told however by a mate that I might have an MSDN version of W7 - thanks to you I now understand something of what that is. My question is, if Microsoft doesn't raise any objections, can I continue to use it for "ordinary" things like Excel, Word, the odd small BASIC program and statistical packages - and occasionally finding things on the net with Mozilla - I am a semi-retired statistician, and teach English on the side, and have no real interest nowadays in programming, still less in Developing Applications. Nor do I want to use Photoshop or Youtube or stream things (whatever that is). Can I use it or will it blow up in my face?

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If you are an MSDN subscriber you should know very well what version you have, If you are not an MSDN subscriber (judging from what you say, you probably aren't) you are likely to be cheated. –  bubu Jun 9 '11 at 13:00

2 Answers 2

If you paid money for a MSDN disk, but did not get an MSDN license, then you have a problem. The only legal way to get MSDN disks is to purchase an MSDN license from Microsoft or an authorized reseller (If any exist). Because of the way MSDN works, people have been able to abuse the system to sell unauthorized (read: pirated) copies of Microsoft products. While you may be able to get a computer to work with this unauthorized OS, you can't escape the fact that you have an invalid license.

Important note: It doesn't matter what you "intend" to do with an invalid copy of windows. Simply booting up the OS is a violation of the license terms. Using an MSDN disk for any reason when you don't have an MSDN license is not allowed.

In your situation, I would return the disk you just bought and buy a retail copy of windows.

From what you say in your question, you might have an upgrade copy of win7. If you still have a valid vista disk and key. You should be able to install fresh from the upgrade CD and do a disk swap when prompted. It's been a while since I had to do an upgrade like this.


Here is a recap of the different versions of windows you should be using:

Retail - This version is for end users who are adding a new "seat" to their installation. If you had two computers and somehow added a third, you would need to purchase another seat.

OEM - If you bought a system from a system builder (like Dell), you will receive an OEM copy. You cannot purchase OEM licenses for your own use. OEM licenses cannot be transferred but can be sold to other parties as part of the system as a whole.

Upgrade - If you have a system that already have a windows license an upgrade license will replace that license. So if you have a windows Vista computer, an upgrade license can turn that computer into a Windows 7 computer.


I've seen too many people abuse the MSDN license and it can cause real headaches. Here are some extra reading if interested:

Ed Bot's article on windows licensing

Paul Thurrott's articles on upgrading to windows 7 from different versions

Hope this helps

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To agree, if you have an MSDN license and are not an MSDN customer, your supplier cheated you. –  CarlF Jun 9 '11 at 18:22

The MSDN license generally only covers software for testing purposes, so you can install the OS on a Virtual PC or on Hardware and use it to test your applications, but you are not allowed to use it for "production" purposes, which is what you want to do.

If you're only using it for the purposes you state here, why bother with Ultimate? Home Premium should be fine for you.

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because I live in abroad but want to use W7 in English, adj –  Andrew R Duncan-Jones Jun 9 '11 at 12:56
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to be honest buying a english copy from amazon etc would be easier.. –  bubu Jun 9 '11 at 13:06

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