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I have (correctly licensed) retail Windows copy installed on my hard drive. I wish now to devote the entire hard drive to my Fedora installation and keep just a Windows 7 virtual machine (since my internet banking requires it to work correctly).

Unfortunately I had a few hardware problems previously and actually activated this copy too may times. The last time I had to call Microsoft and go to a lengthy process speaking some kind of activation code to them, and they gave a new activation code to me. I do not wish to do that, again.

Can I "deactivate" my current copy of Windows so when I install it again it doesn't forces me to activate over the telephone?

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You could re-size the W7 partition to the minimum needed, and install Fedora in a dual boot configuration. Then you won't need to activate Windows at all, plus you would have easier access to any data files on the partition than on a VM. Or just make the call if needed... –  Joe Internet Jul 18 '11 at 23:57
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3 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted

This really depends on the license you have.

If your machine came with/you bought an OEM edition of Windows, technically it is tied to the physical machine and you can only use it there.

If you have a retail or upgrade edition, you are allowed to install it as many times on different machines as you want, so long as you delete/remove it from a machine before you install it on the new machine.

The only edition of Windows that gives you the ability to use a virtual copy are the server editions, or, if you use a qualifying edition of Windows 7, you can use Windows XP Mode.

However, as you asked, technically, the WGA/Windows activation is just to stop pirates from activating thousands of copies from one license code. Microsoft never stop genuine customers. There is a limit to the timeframe you can activate in, but, it resets - and if it doesn't, ringing them always fixes it.

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It's a retail copy, I'll just call. I wish there was a way to just deactivate an installation and active the other. I'm quite averse with dealing with that quite lengthy phone activation procedure again - the machine doesn't seems to understand my voice well. –  Vitor Jul 19 '11 at 1:26
    
Vitor Braga - Try online activation first, if you haven't done it in a while, it is possible it will go straight through. –  William Hilsum Jul 19 '11 at 7:44
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You cannot deactivate it, but at least you can still make that call again. A second activation attempt does not guarantee that it will not work. I have activated the same copy on a reinstalled computer before without having to call. Maybe I had a slightly different version though.

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No. When you setup a virtual image, the virtual hardware won't match the physical hardware and during Windows activation, when Windows creates the hardware hash and sends it to Microsoft, it will mismatch against the stored info on the activation server and that it will force a new activation. Since you've said you exceeded the number of installs, it will require a phone call.

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