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I have Windows 7 Pro. I'm interested in Windows 8, particularly for the $40 upgrade option. If I upgrade my box, but decide I prefer Windows 7, can I do a fresh install of Windows 7 on the same box using my original Windows 7 key?

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If I upgrade my box, but decide I prefer Windows 7, can I do a fresh install of Windows 7 on the same box using my original Windows 7 key?

Of course you can. It's only illegal to use the license on another computer.

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Not if it is an OEM version of Windows 7 Professional. –  cowgod Nov 5 '12 at 22:58
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@cowgod - You don't make a great deal of sense. If its an OEM license of Windows 7 Professional then what I said is exactly the case. If its not an OEM license then the Windows 7 could be installed on any machine once the Windows 8 license on the machine he upgraded was no longer being used on that machine. –  Ramhound Nov 6 '12 at 11:52
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Yes. If you perform a clean installation of Windows 7, note that you will lose all your programs and files, so it's best to perform a backup prior to upgrading to Windows 8. In fact, I would recommend you just restore your system from your backup instead of performing a clean installation. You can do this using the Backup & Recovery tool in Windows 7 by saving a system image when you do the backup.

Alternatively, you can try Windows 8 in a Virtual Machine on your current Windows 7 installation if you don't want to take the huge leap and upgrade right away.

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regarding the Virtual Machine, I tried this, using the official Windows 8 Enterprise Trial from MS. It installs and runs, but in order to get it to run fullscreen at full resolution (1080), I needed VirtualBoxGuest additions, and once that was installed the OS was unusuably slow. Without fullscreen, you don't get the mouse niceties events in the corners or edges of the screen. –  CoolUserName Nov 5 '12 at 23:04
    
COOLUSERNAME, please consider using ReadyBoost Technology in Windows7 to speed up your computer. It allows you to use a flash drive as an extension to your RAM instead of HDD. All your page files will be written there instead of HDD and reading/writing to flash drives is faster. Read up on google if you want :) Not quite like adding extra RAM but atleast good enough. And cheaper :) –  Fasih Khatib Nov 6 '12 at 4:21
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