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When reinstalling Windows 7, does the language, version, architecture (64-bit or 32-bit) or source (OEM, retail, or MSDN) matter?

I got a copy of Windows 7 Pro from my school just in time when I needed to make a format but yesterday I went to a Windows 7 meeting and they gave everyone a free copy of Windows 7 ultimate.

So I want to upgrade since this version they gave me is a Oem version I am guessing so I should be allowed to do commerial use stuff with it where as my school copy I can't.

I still want to keep my old copy of Windows 7 incase I want to install on another computer but where I downloaded it from(msndaa) it says single user.

So I think I probably have to use deactivate it or something?

Also I guessing that I can use the anytime upgrade and type in my new key?

Another thing I am wondering is what is the difference between OEM and Retail? I got a copy of office 2007 what is also OEM from school and after a few activations it told me I reached my limit of activations.

I had to like phone this activation number and after phoning it a couple times and trying random numbers of how many times it was activated it finally let me activate it. I am just worried that the next time I install it won't let me activate it at all.

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migrated from Sep 10 '09 at 17:15

This question came from our site for professional and enthusiast programmers.

marked as duplicate by studiohack Jun 28 '11 at 1:06

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

This is not programming related and should be on superuser. – Russ Bradberry Sep 10 '09 at 17:00
Is Windows 7 really being spread around this much a month and a half before release? – Will Eddins Sep 10 '09 at 17:18
@Russ I posted it on superUser so I don't know why it would not be on superUser. @Guard - I guess so. – chobo2 Sep 10 '09 at 17:31
Windows 7 went RTM (the final, release version of was "Released to Market") nearly a month ago, Volume License and MSDN subscribers have been able to download legit copies of the final version since then. OEMs have had it just as long. After the negative buzz when Vista released MS are giving it away to "trendsetters" at lots of events now to get positive buzz going before the official release, basically it's marketing. – GAThrawn Sep 11 '09 at 13:30
GAThrawn - RTM is Releast to Manufacturing. It means the product is available to OEMs but not the general public. – MDMarra Sep 24 '09 at 18:17
up vote 2 down vote accepted

I will break my assistance down into two parts, Windows 7 upgrade related, and then OEM vs. Retail related. I haven't seen what was given to you, but I believe what you received was what is actually known as a "Not For Resale" or NFR copy.

First, with respect to the upgrade from 7 to 7 Ultimate (all credit goes to for "step-by-step"):

The Windows Anytime Upgrade Experience for Windows 7


When a customer launches Windows Anytime Upgrade (WAU) from Windows 7, they are presented with 2 options: purchase a WAU product key online or enter a WAU product key from a WAU retail package purchased in a store.

If a customer has a WAU product key, they will choose "Enter an upgrade key" to proceed with the upgrade.


Customer will enter their WAU product key.


The WAU product key the customer entered will be verified as valid.

NOTE: Step 2 and 3 do not happen for people who choose to purchase a WUA product key online. The process of buying a WUA product key automates these 2 steps and takes you directly to Step 4 after the purchase. After making a WUA purchase online, you are given the ability to print out a receipt and are also sent a copy via email.


Customer will accept license terms to proceed.


Customer will be asked to save their work and close all programs. To proceed, the customer will click the "Upgrade" button.


The upgrade takes place! The customer's PC will reboot.


The upgrade finishes and the customer is now running the version of Windows 7 they upgraded to with all its features!


With regard to OEM vs. Retail:

Retail versions of OS's are known as "vanilla" in that they can be installed on any machine that meets the minimum system requirements for the installation. OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) versions are usually customized by the OEM for their specific hardware platform or "footprint" and will actually stop installation if the hardware doesn't match what the OS is expecting. Manufacturers like HP and Dell have "hardware signatures" which are looked for during the installation process which assist in determining if the OS will install or not.

OEM versions of software such as MS Office and the like are a different story. Generally, the only difference between Retail and OEM is that the OEM version has the product key imbedded in the installation, negating the need for user input. This is not a hardfast rule, but is a generallization.

I hope this helps.

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Yes it says "not for resale" – chobo2 Oct 10 '09 at 18:25

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe the Upgrade Anytime functionality in the OS may allow you to insert a product key, and use that to do the OS without a formal reinstall/upgrade.

The difference between OEM and Retail is that OEM is locked to a single computer, while Retail can be transferred between PCs. If you call Microsoft asking for a new activation number, they will almost always give you one for Retail, and will almost never give you one for OEM.

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Ya I saw that and I put my key in and it accepts it but I don't know if I get my old key back. – chobo2 Sep 10 '09 at 17:32
I find that kinda stupid with OEM that you can't switch computers. It is not that much cheaper. The brief blurb on the package does not say anything about this and the site they point to does not have a TOA for Windows 7(but for everything else). – chobo2 Sep 10 '09 at 17:36
It's usually close to half price, sometimes less when deals are involved with Microsoft. The point is, OEM is intended to be packaged with a new computer, not to be bought by customers. Also, keys can generally be used 3-5 times before they're rejected judging from experience. It will NOT release your key when you upgrade/uninstall. I'm not sure if Windows 7 keys are any different on the number of uses available. – Will Eddins Sep 10 '09 at 17:39
Also, you may consider whether you need the upgrade at all. Ultimate has a LOT of features that no normal computer user needs. Even professional contains a lot of features that most users will never need. I'm personally buying a copy of Home when it's released. – Will Eddins Sep 10 '09 at 17:41
Ya I think I will just keep using what I got till I need a format then install ultimate. I was just thinking maybe by now they would have some sort of thing to do that. I was going to buy a copy of home too since its all I need but canceled that now. With it being 50% I am not sure about that the only place I know that sell oems is NCIX and just comparing home prem vista oem to another stores retail version and it turns out the retail is actually $25 cheaper then oem in this case. – chobo2 Sep 10 '09 at 18:28

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