Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. It's 100% free, no registration required.

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 recently bought windows 8 using the upgrade offer. Now I am planning to upgrade my computer ie , change the motherboard , processor and the Ram. I would like to know if i can use the same product key or do I have to buy another product hey for Windows 8 for the new configuration.

share|improve this question

If you installed Windows 8 previously on the old machine, and after that if you change the motherboard and activate it it may some times fail. Your key is uniquely tied with your hardware. In such a case just call Microsoft and explain the issue. They will give the unblock code. So dont worry.

share|improve this answer

The answer depends on whether you have OEM or regular license to Windows version you're upgrading.

  1. OEM license (pre-installed OS) is tied to hardware. You cannot transfer it to another computer. If you change the motherboard, your computer eventually becomes another computer and Windows will not activate.
  2. Regular license (boxed) allows you to transfer it to another hardware. But if you change the motherboard, most likely Windows will not activate automatically. You will have to activate it on the phone.

And now upgrade to Windows 8.

Your upgrade key is not tied to hardware. You can transfer the upgrade to another computer as many times as you want. The only requirement is that you have a previous version of Windows installed and activated on that computer. (Of course, you can still use it only on one computer.)

So if you have a regular license for previous version of Windows, you can safely upgrade. Yet either install the new hardware while you're using the previous version and re-activate it and then upgrade to Window 8, or upgrade on the current hardware, activate Windows 8 (should be done automatically) and then install the new hardware to your computer.

If the case of OEM version, it's not as clear.

Technically you can upgrade, just change the hardware after you upgraded to Windows 8.

Your previous version of Windows was running on the hardware it's tied to. You upgraded it to Windows 8 which license is not tied to particular hardware. Therefore you can change the hardware when your new Windows 8 is running on your computer. However, to re-activate it you will need to call Microsoft.

share|improve this answer
Interesting questions how much of a trail Microsoft keeps and how they treat this as a matter of policy. They are certainly technically capable of tracking that your upgrade is to an OEM version, in which case they might insist that it's still an OEM license after the upgrade and deny reactivation. And even if you think you know what they do today, they could change their policy tomorrow. – Nicole Hamilton Nov 21 '12 at 17:24
@NicoleHamilton Quite true. On the other hand, after the moment you upgrade, the license terms of Windows 8 Upgrade start to hold. So if upgrade license does not prohibit changing the hardware, then you can do it. – Alexey Ivanov Nov 21 '12 at 17:32
I understand your argument, but see mine at the end of my own answer that I don't see how they get away with prohibiting MB upgrades under their OEM EULA anyway. My point is if they decide to deny activation, what are you going to do about it? They have the power to do whatever they like even if their policy seems arbitrary or just plain wrong. – Nicole Hamilton Nov 21 '12 at 17:41
@NicoleHamilton I understand that. But still it applies to OEM license. When you upgrade to Windows 8, the old license is replaced with new license that comes with Windows 8. Does it still not allow changing motherboard? Of course I am not proficient in legal documents so I cannot be 100% sure. (Additionally upgrade license allows moving of the upgrade to another computer. It could be applicable here.) – Alexey Ivanov Nov 21 '12 at 18:07
I'm not sure Microsoft does now or will always agree in the future with your statement that "When you upgrade to Windows 8, the old license is replaced with new license that comes with Windows 8." They could a take different position. – Nicole Hamilton Nov 21 '12 at 18:58

It depends on which license you have. They differ depending on whether you originally bought your Windows license separately or or if it came pre-installed as an OEM license. You can search for the EULA for any Microsoft product here.

Windows bought separately

If you bought your license separately, you may transfer your license to another machine that belongs to you. That would certainly include the same machine, merely upgraded. Here's what the Windows 8 English EULA says:

Can I transfer the software to another computer or user? You may transfer the software to another computer that belongs to you. You may also transfer the software (together with the license) to a computer owned by someone else if a) you are the first licensed user of the software and b) the new user agrees to the terms of this agreement. To make that transfer, you must transfer the original media, the certificate of authenticity, the product key and the proof of purchase directly to that other person, without retaining any copies of the software. You may use the backup copy we allow you to make or the media that the software came on to transfer the software. Anytime you transfer the software to a new computer, you must remove the software from the prior computer.

As Bala states, if you're transferring your license as the EULA allows but your code doesn't work because you've used it before, call Microsoft and they'll give you a new one.

Windows pre-installed

But if your original copy of Windows came pre-installed, you're covered by their OEM license, which ties the license to that particular machine. Here's what the Win7 OEM license says:

One Copy per Computer. The software license is permanently assigned to the computer with which the software is distributed. That computer is the “licensed computer.”

TRANSFER TO A THIRD PARTY. You may transfer the software directly to a third party only with the licensed computer. The transfer must include the software and the Certificate of Authenticity label. You may not keep any copies of the software or any earlier version. Before any permitted transfer, the other party must agree that this agreement applies to the transfer and use of the software.

As stan31337 reports, Microsoft's position is that this means you cannot change out the MB.

An upgrade or a replacement of the motherboard is considered to create a new personal computer. Therefore, Microsoft OEM operating system software cannot be transferred from another computer. If the motherboard is upgraded or replaced for reasons other than a defect then a new computer is created, and a new operating system license is required.

I am not an attorney but I am not convinced that Microsoft's interpretation of their own EULA would actually hold up insofar as the EULA does not actually state that you can't repair or upgrade the machine, both of which of seem to be reasonable things that consumers expect to be able to do unless explicitly denied. Otoh, if they refuse to activate your license, they win unless you're willing to sue them, which seems unlikely unless you could find an attorney willing to take it on a class action.

share|improve this answer

The installation will work so long as it sees another previous Windows installation (Windows XP or up). The product key is not dependent on hardware as far as I know. Just be sure to retain the hard disk you had your previous Windows install on.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.