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I have a Dell XPS desktop and my hard drive crashed recently.

I went out a purchased a new hard drive and installed it, But I have a problem...

I bought the computer from my brother a few months ago, and being the idiot he is, he removed all the stickers on the computer ( including the CD key )

I have acquired a Dell Windows 7 Ultimate recovery disk, and I was wondering if this will install the OS on my computer without requiring me to input a CD Key ( will it recognize that my PC is in fact a Dell PC and not require CD key input?). Also keep in mind that I am not positive that the original OS was Ultimate, it may have been pro or home.

If anyone has any insight it would be greatly appreciated.

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

Call Dell support and ask them for a recovery CD. It might cost you 10-20$ but it's worth it. They should be able to identify the version on your OS and possibly even the Windows key with the computer serial number.

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unless in removing all the stickers the brother removed that one as well – Xantec Jun 17 '11 at 16:40
He did remove the cd key sticker, he is an idiot lol – Rob_IGS Jun 17 '11 at 16:43
@Xantec There are other ways to retrieve a S/N on a computer. There's all kind of software available for that. He can always boot up from an Ubuntu CD and sudo lshw in the terminal – Greg Jun 17 '11 at 16:44
@ROB_IGS Or if it was a reasonably modern Dell (last 5 years or so) you could just go into the BIOS and look for a section named "service tag" which is effectively your serial number. – Mokubai Jun 17 '11 at 17:28
You can always get the service tag from bios they should be able to give you the info based on that. Keep in mind dell also stores the cd key in bios so any dell re installation cd will work. – Not Kyle stop stalking me Jun 17 '11 at 20:36

I am not a lawyer, but it has always been my understanding that if your computer does not have an COA (Certificate of Authenticity) sticker on it, then you do not legally own an OEM copy of the OS. At this point your only LEGAL recourse is to purchase a boxed copy of Windows.

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There should have been a sticker on the computer somewhere (virtually all Dell home PC's come with the OS installed). That is the OS you are licensed for, but no, a Dell recovery disk does not ask for a key.

I agree with Greg, call Dell and give them the service tag, and order a replacement disk for the OS you are legally licensed for. If on the very slim chance it did not come with Windows, you will know so you can buy a legal copy.

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I know for a fact it came with Windows 7, I just dont know which version of windows 7. I had run the system recovery partition before and it installed windows 7 – Rob_IGS Jun 17 '11 at 16:41
@Rob_IGS as Kirk noted, your only real proof of the OS being legitimate is the Certificate of Authenticity) sticker on it. It does not matter what was on it earlier. – KCotreau Jun 17 '11 at 21:31

If you enter the servcie tag from the BIOS at the Dell Warranty site there is a tab for original configuration. That will list the original OS version. You will need the service tag to get the recovery CD/DVD as well.

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Just a note for everyone saying to use a keyfinder, it doesn't always work. For big-box companies, like HP or Dell, they set up ONE computer with a special CD-key (called a Manufacturer key), which is pre-activated, and that key will NOT activate another copy of Windows, even on the same computer. The recovery CD will put that key back in, activated, but if you install Windows from a CD, even the same edition, that key won't work. That is why they have the OEM key on the sticker on the bottom. Unless he/she reinstalled Windows MANUALLY using the sticker, the key finder method won't work. Unfortunately, I run into this a lot at work, so I would have to agree with @Greg about ordering the recovery CDs as the quickest and easiest route

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