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Back when I had Windows XP, changing the motherboard on a working installation would cause a hall.dll error and Windows won't boot. (I'm not referring to activation problems)

I am now on Windows 7 and I am going to make a drastic change to my PC, a totally different CPU and Chipset architecture. I do not want to have to reinstall Windows 7. Will Windows recognize my motherboard or will I have problems?

What if I preeemtpively install the new motherboard drivers on the old PC before doing the upgrade? Will it help Windows "find" them when needed?

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Damn good question. I recall swapping motherboards (or rather the hard drive from one machine to another) with Windows XP and experiencing the BSOD you mention above... I have not had the opportunity to try this with Windows 7 though, so I am quite curious myself. – Breakthrough Jul 6 '11 at 0:39
You might (should?) be able to create an image with sysprep and deploy it to the new hardware. – Joe Internet Jul 6 '11 at 2:20

Changing a motherboard requires a reinstall in general due to licensing issues. Microsoft requires reactivation anytime you make a "major" change, which these days, only applies to the motherboard and (sometimes) the cpu.

Your situation was different.

Hall.dll in particular refers to the Hardware Abstraction Layer. Windows needs certain drivers depending on your motherboard. This is created during setup and generally is impossible to change.


Restoring a corrupt hall.dll is a different story though. . .

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Yes, but does there even exist a hall.dll file in Windows 7? I know Windows 7 has a lot more built-in driver support then Windows XP did, so let's assume for the sake of argument all the drivers exist (the hall.dll problem happened in XP even if the drivers were installed). And again, we're not talking about activation issues here. – Breakthrough Jul 6 '11 at 19:54
The HAL still exists. It's just more modularized. Personally, I've never had any problems changing the motherboard and requiring a reinstall. But then again, my installs were with similar chipsets. I've heard of some horror stories back in the day, aka HAL hell. – surfasb Jul 6 '11 at 20:07

It's "more" supported in Windows7, but I'm sure most IT professionals would still recommend a reinstall if possible.

I recently upgraded my Win 7 x64 PC from a Core 2 Duo E8400 in an ASUS P5QL motherboard to a new Sandy Bridge CPU and motherboard. Windows booted like a champ and only demanded the driver disc and reactivation. YMMV but I was pleasantly surprised at how well it worked out.

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I know that this is a really old question, however, I just wanted to chime in here and say that I recently did this in Windows 7. I had a three year old laptop that my company gave me and had recently done a re-install on it. My company decided to refresh my machine and since I had just recently re-installed Windows, and did not want to install again, I decided to just try swapping the hard drives to see if it worked. As a side note, I created an image of my machine first just in case everything fell apart.

Anyway, the upgrade in hardware was significant. While they were both Intel-based architectures it was a move from an i5 to an i7 and a completely different motherboard. As I said it was a three year difference in machine hardware. In the end, the computer booted up like a champ. Once I booted into the new OS all I needed to do was install new drivers for all of the different components. But after I installed all the new drivers, everything worked as expected.

I should also mention that because it was a company machine with volume licensing I didn't run into any Windows licensing problems. I'm guessing that's because the computer just contacted the licensing server and re-validated itself in the background. Anyway, hopefully this experience helps someone else coming along to this post.

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Your answer really doesn't answer the author's question. The author's problem was going to be connected hall.dll if there was a problem and surfasb's response explained how to deal with those problems to a certain degree. – Ramhound Jul 29 '13 at 17:03
I don't see how my answer didn't address the authors question. While I never specifically mentioned the word HAL in my post, the author's question only referred to HAL being a problem with Windows XP. By going through a change identical to what the author was proposing and not running into any HAL errors, I assumed that it was obvious that there appeared to be no problems changing major hardware components in Windows 7. At least not in my scenario, which I'll admit is limited to my single experience. – Shadowcat Dec 31 '13 at 22:32

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