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My wife spilled water over her laptop. This machine had a working version of Windows 7 without any Genuine Advantage errors. When the motherboard failed after the water incident we bought her a new laptop. All her data was on her old hard drive, and the drive still worked so we swapped the drives.

I knew I would need to install all the necessary drivers for the OS to work with the new laptop hardware but, I did not even think about verifying the windows product key.

Now whenever she is using her laptop she is getting prompted multiple times about counterfeit software.

Is there a way to verify her OS with the old product key that matches it from the old machine?

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The reason you are getting this error is you cannot move an OEM license from one laptop to an entirely different laptop even if its the same brand. – Ramhound Nov 28 '12 at 18:58
up vote 2 down vote accepted

Actually, JustinD is incorrect. Microsoft is very specific about how OEM keys work. Specifically, they are tied to a specific hardware and activated as such. During the activation process, they tend to take an inventory of components and recognize the key based off that (the motherboard is included in those).

So what that typically means is that the OEM key from the first laptop is tied to that Laptop. However, you may be able to use the key that probably came with the new one. Otherwise, you could call MS and see if they will work with you - but it is highly unlikely.

  • I would try to activate with the key that likely came with your new computer before trying to deal with MS. They rarely bend the rules on the OEM installs.

Per Microsoft's FAQ & Licensing page

Q. My customer bought a new PC and wants to move the OEM software from the old PC to the new one. Can't users do whatever they want with their software?

A. No, the OEM software is licensed with the computer system on which it was originally installed and is tied to that original machine. OEM licenses are single-use licenses that cannot be installed on more than one computer system, even if the original machine is no longer in use. The End User Software License Terms, which the end user must accept before using the software, state that the license may not be shared, transferred to, or used concurrently on different computers. System builders must provide end-user support for the Windows license on computers they build, but cannot support licenses on computers they didn’t build. This is a fundamental reason why OEM System Builder licenses can't be transferred.

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+1 for "I would try to activate with the key that likely came with your new computer before trying to deal with MS. They rarely bend the rules on the OEM installs." since this is their only other option besides just using the new hdd. Only Windows 7 licenses through an OEM cannot be transfered, Windows 8 licenses rules are different, but that isn't at play here. – Ramhound Nov 28 '12 at 18:59

There are a few ways to solve this.

  1. If the new laptop has the same windows version (e.g. win-7 home on both) then look for the CoA. (That is the sticker with all the XXXXXX-XXXXXX-XXXXXX-XXXXXX-XXXXXX letters and numbers on it).
    • Select [My computer] from the desktop, right click, select [properties]
    • Click on the change product key option. Enter the new key for this laptop.
  2. Call Microsoft and tell them you replaced you motherboard and that windows fails to re-activate. If this is legal or not depends on your original license.
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You could attempt in trying to re-activate your product by right clicking on "My Computer" and selecting properties, then at the bottom, select change product key. Hopefully you still have the key because you will need it.

Just try re-entering your original key and activate it.

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If that fails, you should be provided a number to call and the MS folks can sort you out. May take a few minutes but it has been failrly quick and easy for me in the past. – Dave M Nov 28 '12 at 18:29
You may not even have to reenter it - but it's worth noting that if it's an OEM license it may not like being on a motherboard with a different brand code on it, since the license doesn't technically allow that. MS may also tell you you're out of luck. – Shinrai Nov 28 '12 at 18:29
@JustinD - Trying to activate an OEM license on an entirely new laptop will fail. – Ramhound Nov 28 '12 at 18:57

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