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I have many computers in my office from Dell. One of the computers is a Dell INSPIRON D531 which came with Vista installed. I have many other Dell laptops and desktops which came with Windows 7 ultimate and some of which are scrap now, but I do have the DVDs of the OS.

Can I use the Windows 7 DVD which came with other Dell on that INSPIRON to upgrade Vista?

Will it ask for a key or activation? I want to save my time and start to upgrade Vista to Windows 7 once I am sure. Any suggestions?

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Can you, yes, legally?, no. –  Moab Sep 16 '11 at 19:37

2 Answers 2

up vote 1 down vote accepted

Just because you have the media to install an operating system does not automatically mean you have a licence to use said operating system.

When installing it will ask for a product key, which will either be on a card for a retail copy of Windows or on a sticker on the machine for OEM copies of the operating system. You cannot install an OEM copy of Windows on any other machine than the one on which it is already installed. You also cannot activate a Vista key in Windows 7.

Unless you have specifically bought an upgrade from Vista to Windows 7 you are likely to be using it illegally.

As an aside, Windows Vista is actually surprisingly usable provided that it has sufficiently powerful hardware. On underpowered hardware it can perform less than spectacularly.

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If you have a Dell system and a Dell manufactured Windows DVD or USB that is 100% authentic and unaltered it will work in any Dell that was not configured and shipped with Windows 8/8.1.

Windows 8/8.1 has a chip on the motherboard with the key for the specific version of Windows 8.8.1 that you purchased on the machine. That is why if you put a Windows 8/8.1 DVD that is Pro into a machine that was shipped with home you get an error on a clean install.

The Windows 7 ISO that Dell uses has a file that looks for the system flag that is tied to your BIOS to verify your service tag/ EXP Service Code is one from Dell. The service code is made from an algorithm so it is unique for Dell. That is also why when you own a Dell and the Intel drivers on their support site don't always work on your machine once you reimage to a retail or custom Windows image.

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