Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I was asked by a client to install Windows XP on three partitions on his PC. He wants them to all be original. My question:

Will the same Original XP installation work (get registered/ activated) on all the partitions?


Do I need three Original XP licenses?

Note: Original means Licensed

I don't want to take the risk, so I'm asking first.

share|improve this question
if licensed for one xp then you can only install one, anywhere – mic84 Feb 6 '12 at 12:00
One could argue that taking a backup image of your hard drive is breaking this install only one copy though as the OS would be on your laptop AND on the backup drive, but only being actually used on the laptop, the same theory could be made here................. – Iain Simpson Feb 6 '12 at 12:06
@mic84 Can you provide a reference for this? It is not how I would interpret the EULA, and I have rechecked it, but as always, the problem with EULA's is that need interpreting. (I have an old XP machine which I think has a backup install of windows on a second drive. Don't think it has ever been used, but the intention was that it has the necessary drivers loaded to be able to restore the main drive if it is ever needed. If what you say is correct, then this is illegal) – sgmoore Feb 6 '12 at 12:42
Sorry for the late reply:-Is Raystafarian's answer ok? Unless your microsoft licence came with more than one licence, (which Microsoft would know and should be displayed somewhere?),it is still 1 licence = 1 install. This may help:- – mic84 Feb 6 '12 at 13:06
@mic84 i read the plain version and no where can i find that ur bound to only one installation on the PC u choose. It does say single PC but doesnot specify the limit on number of partitions it can be installed on. So that would be Raystafarian's is correct i guess?/ – Doopy Doo Feb 6 '12 at 14:16
up vote 2 down vote accepted

As stated in the XP Pro EULA

Installation and use. You may install, use, access, display and run one copy of the Product on a single computer,
such as a workstation, terminal or other device (“Workstation Computer”). The Product may not be used by
more than two (2) processors at any one time on any single Workstation Computer. You may permit a maximum
of ten (10) computers or other electronic devices (each a “Device”) to connect to the Workstation Computer to
utilize the services of the Product solely for File and Print services, Internet Information Services, and remote
access (including connection sharing and telephony services). The ten connection maximum includes any indirect
connections made through “multiplexing” or other software or hardware which pools or aggregates connections.
Except as otherwise permitted by the NetMeeting, Remote Assistance, and Remote Desktop features described
below, you may not use the Product to permit any Device to use, access, display or run other executable software
residing on the Workstation Computer, nor may you permit any Device to use, access, display, or run the Product
or Product’s user interface, unless the Device has a separate license for the Product.

Because MS produces a computer ID My Computer - Properties based on the licensing Key and hardware profile (mostly the motherboard) that is unique to each "computer" and relays that information to MS servers, all three partitions will have the same hardware ID, and cannot be used concurrently, there shouldn't be any restrictions per the EULA

share|improve this answer
YES but this assume a workstation, i am talking about the same simle computer having 3 partitions, each installation running one at a time – Doopy Doo Feb 6 '12 at 12:32
You may install, use, access, display and run one copy of the Product on a single computer, such as a workstation, terminal or other device workstation is a computer. What you're saying is because it's 3 partitions on one computer, you should be okay according to the EULA? – Raystafarian Feb 6 '12 at 12:36
TRANSFER—Internal. You may move the Product to a different Workstation Computer. After the transfer, you must completely remove the Product from the former Workstation Computer. This part would indicate that you cannot have it on more than one computer at a time, but your argument is still valid. Because of the way MS IDs computers, I think you're in the clear. I edited my answer. – Raystafarian Feb 6 '12 at 12:39
"What you're saying is because it's 3 partitions on one computer, you should be okay according to the EULA?" that is exactly what i am asking. can you be 100% sure that i am in the clear? – Doopy Doo Feb 6 '12 at 13:04
@DoopyDoo You're clear and your understanding of what I'm saying is clear. – Raystafarian Feb 6 '12 at 13:06

Yes, as long as only one install is being used on one machine at any time. Here's the EULA: Windows XP EULA In the section about storing images of XP on a network, it says you need to have one license for each separate workstation the product is run on. So if you are only running one copy at a time on the same machine, and you are not transferring it, I read that as the same machine.

share|improve this answer
Since only a single installation can be used at any given time, I think this is a safe conclusion, of course neither of us are lawyers. – Ramhound Feb 6 '12 at 12:23
so this means, that on the same machine, one installation at a time if used, will ALSO GET REGISTERED AND ACTIVATED...?? RIGHT?? – Doopy Doo Feb 6 '12 at 12:28
@DoopyDoo - You would need to activate all installations to be legal. – Ramhound Feb 6 '12 at 12:35
@Ramhound yes ofcourse i will activate them all, but will microsoft allow that? as the media is the same, but on more than one partition?? – Doopy Doo Feb 6 '12 at 13:00
The EULA mentions installations that can be run at the same time. (ie on two separate machines or processors). Since you can only run one partition at one time, and its on the same machine/processor, this seems to be different than what they are saying is not allowed. For the activation, it would make sense to install one, activate it and then make image copies into the other partitions. So you would effectively be running the same installation, only at one time as per license. Just like a backup and restore. – jdh Feb 6 '12 at 15:06

This will work in theory, but you only get a max of I think its 3 activations so after that you would have to ring up Microsoft and beg for more. As long as the three installations are not running at the same time this should be ok, I wouldn't like to say how you would stand on the licence terms doing this but as far as I can see it should physically work.

As for the licencing part you could look at it like this.......Windows enables you to install it onto a mirror'd raid, in this you have two drives, both with the same info on, so if one dies you have a copy on the other one, so in essence you have two installations of windows, one on each hard drive, yet you are only using one at a time, so if you pulled one drive, the other would take over.

So installing xp on several partitions and only using one at once is theoretically the same thing, just in a different way, as for how Microsoft sees it is another matter.

share|improve this answer

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .