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 downloaded Windows 8 from Dreamspark and got a cd key.

I was wondering, does that mean than I can install my Windows just once time with that key, or I can regularly reformat my drive and install Windows 8 again with my Dreamspark CD key?

share|improve this question
That key will be tied to your hardware the first time it was activated. It can only be reinstalled on that CPU-MB-HDD combo. You're allowed a limited number of hardware changes, but you may need to use telephone activation. – Oct 24 '12 at 22:08 - You are 100% incorrect. – Ramhound Oct 24 '12 at 22:09
DreamSpark is not an OEM license (it's a sort of upgrade license), so it doesn't get tied to hardware. However repeated activation (whether reinstall or hardware changes) will invoke the need for telephone support. – Ben Voigt Oct 24 '12 at 22:16
Also, Windows Activation looks at more components than just the CPU, motherboard and hard drive. I don't know the specifics off the top of my head, but I believe it also includes the GPU, NIC and RAM, with each component also weighted slightly differently. The cumulative "weight" of all changed components needs to be above a certain threshold before reactivation is required. – Indrek Oct 24 '12 at 22:25
@Ramhound It seems you're on to me today, but you're wrong again. I own many DreamSpark licenses when I was in uni and the Windows key you get from it can only be used on one computer (unlike the commercial keys which may allow up to 3). This, I was told, is the same for MSDN keys. If Windows activation detects the same key being used on differnet hardware, it will definitely ask you to activate again. – Oct 24 '12 at 22:50

According to my understanding (and I am not a lawyer), your license allows reinstallation as long as the prior install is taken out of service. But after a couple times, the Windows activation servers will flag that the key is being used excessively, and you'll have to call telephone support to activate.

share|improve this answer

From experience, the dreamspark premium/ MSDNAA key is no different from the 'retail' edition. As long as its the same hardware you should have no issues reinstalling and activating the system as per the usual process.

The 'Extended access guarantee' is new, but all that means is your key should definately work to install for 2 years. The licence itself however, isn't time dependant.

If its the same machine with no major changes, it should work with no issues. I'd personally rather just image the disk with a third party tool once a base setup is done and run with that to save time though

share|improve this answer
I'm pretty sure the access guarantee is supposed to mean that, if you lose the copy you downloaded you can download it from the web site again and if you lose the key you can look it up again on the web site. As it happens, though, when I tried this out, it didn't work; once your verification has expired you don't seem to be able to log in at all. – Harry Johnston Oct 25 '12 at 2:34
I get a 'new' subsrciption every year, with a single copy of a product, and I don't seem to think i can look up last year's key. So I rather doubt so. Key validity makes more sense. – Journeyman Geek Oct 25 '12 at 2:48
That sounds like MSDN rather than the DreamSpark web store? They used to be very similar, but they've drifted apart somewhat. In the DreamSpark web store you definitely should be able to look up your previous orders and I'm fairly sure you'll still be able to see the key. I suspect however that the "extended access guarantee" clause was intended for the commercial web stores run by the same hosting company and aren't actually supposed to apply to DreamSpark. – Harry Johnston Oct 25 '12 at 2:56
I've never seen the guarentee in MSDNAA. Its there on Dreamspark , which replaced MSDNAA. And the extended access guarantee clause has a obvious mention in the form of a shiny unmissable image when I get my download/key – Journeyman Geek Oct 25 '12 at 3:24
Is your web store username changing each year? We used to do that here, so some institutions still might I suppose. In that case I'd expect you to lose access to your previous account's purchase history. – Harry Johnston Oct 25 '12 at 3:33

DreamSpark, when activated, will give you a key and an .iso file for download and activation. You may see a warning about the key, and it might say it will only be valid for 24 months. However, this is not entirely the case.

When you install Windows, DreamSpark servers automatically detect that you have installed once. Your key DOES NOT expire on your system. Type 'slmgr /xpr' in CMD and you'll see why. HOWEVER, your key on DreamSpark servers will expire after 24 months, and you will not be able to obtain your key, or your .iso for the matter, after 24 months.

Of course, the reason for that is to make sure you are still in school. You can send them another activation form and they'll clear it for you, and you will get another 24 months of DreamSpark. I have no idea if the keys given to you after reactivation will be the same when you activated DreamSpark for the first time.

EDIT: Command line was wrong, clarifying

share|improve this answer

I use Microsoft DreamSpark Premium and the instructions say :

Extended Access Guarantee (24 months) - Included 
24 months of access to your download and/or key. 
This does not extend the duration of time-limited licenses (if applicable). 

 Installation and Use Rights. You may install and use on your devices no more than two
 copies of each of the software offerings made available to you 

So you can check your instructions.

You can re-install any number of times (there is no restriction on that in EULA). Depending on what the EULA says, you can use also use multiple (2 in my case) copies at the same time.

However if you try to install it on multiple computers and your license does not permit it, you may risk your key being flagged.

share|improve this answer
I think this just means the download link and key information is kept for two years. Many software licensing platforms have this kind of messages. – Oct 24 '12 at 22:11
Why would you need your key and or the setup file if you wouldn't need to reinstall. I went thru the EULA once again, and I don not see any such restrictions. – AbhishekGirish Oct 24 '12 at 22:14
" may continue to use the software you obtained prior to termination of your (subscription) to the terms of this agreement." – AbhishekGirish Oct 24 '12 at 22:16
@AbhishekGirish: This text only applies to repeated download. But you can download only once, burn a DVD, and then install many times, even after you lose download access. – Ben Voigt Oct 24 '12 at 22:19
@Ramhound: the EULA is quite clear, you are allowed to continue to use the software indefinitely (at least on the same machine) even after you no longer qualify for the DreamSpark program. (Transferring the software to another machine after you no longer qualify is not mentioned in the EULA either way.) – Harry Johnston Oct 25 '12 at 2:30

You must log in to answer this question.

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