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I am a computer science student and my university is participating the Dreamspark program, as such I can get Dreamspark licenses for Windows operating systems. I am planning to install Windows 7 Professional from Dreamspark on my computer. However understandably I want to know what I'm getting into before I go ahead.

Here are the questions to which, despite an extensive search, I was unable to find complete answers to:

  1. I have read on a few forums that apparently there exists an activation limit which limits how many times I can reinstall Windows. However on a few other forums I read the limit is about how often I reinstall which seems to imply I should be able to reinstall as many times as I want as long as I don't do it too often (which seems like a contradiction to me ;) ). If said limit does exist does anyone know what it is?

  2. I have also read that if said limit is met I will not be able to activate Windows until I phone Microsoft's automated system and it resets that limit. If this is true can anyone tell me if I can accomplish the same via the Internet? Even ignoring the fact I hate dealing with automated phone systems if I have to phone Microsoft in the USA then this is going to pose a significant problem as I live in Europe and thus the roaming fees are going to be huge.

  3. I have also read that hardware changes can cause problems with Windows activation. Is that true? What would happen if I were to change my graphic's card or replace my RAM?

  4. As my hard drive is getting quite old I am well aware that sooner or later it's going to fail (although right now everything, SMART included, appears to be ok). If my hard drive has a head crash one year from now will I be able to reinstall windows on a new hard drive (with all other hardware staying the same)?

  5. I know that software from Dreamspark works even after I stop being a student (which is probably going to happen 2.5 years from now). However can I still reinstall Windows from Dreamspark after I'm no longer a student?

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closed as too broad by EBGreen, Canadian Luke, Tog, Lance Roberts, AthomSfere May 15 '14 at 17:34

There are either too many possible answers, or good answers would be too long for this format. Please add details to narrow the answer set or to isolate an issue that can be answered in a few paragraphs.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Hi ST17, welcoem to Super User! I tried answering your questions, but realize this question is very broad (you're asking 5 questions). It is usually recommended to ask one, well-researched question, per question. – Canadian Luke Apr 11 '14 at 18:57
Sorry. I considered splitting the question but seeing as they are all related to basic concerns about activating operating systems from Dreamspark I thought it might be beneficial for people looking at this question in the future to see all the answers here. I will be sure to split future questions. – ST17 Apr 11 '14 at 19:07
If you want one that answers all questions, as, just about dreamspark, pop over to Meta Super User and propose the idea. If the community likes it, it can be set as a Community Wiki, and have a fancy tag added to it – Canadian Luke Apr 11 '14 at 19:09
up vote 2 down vote accepted
  1. There's no specific limit. A certain amount of auto-activations within a certain time period will often cause it to force you to call to complete activation.
  2. If you get to the point where it won't auto-activate over the Internet you have to call them. They have tool-free phone numbers for just about every continent/country.
  3. Yes, hardware changes can trigger a need to reactivate. Usually you need to change two of the key hardware elements before it triggers a need to reactivate. See What causes windows 7 activation requests?
  4. Yes, you can reinstall. See: Will Windows fail activation on a new hard drive after previous hard drive failed, Reinstalling Windows 8 from Dreamspark
  5. Yes you can keep using it as needed, but not for commercial purposes. From Microsoft Software License Terms - MICROSOFT DREAMSPARK DIRECT SUBSCRIPTION AGREEMENT:

2b. End of Student Status.
The DreamSpark Direct Subscription is a special offering for students. Once you no longer qualify for the DreamSpark Direct Subscription (due to graduation or otherwise no longer meeting the definition of "you" above), your DreamSpark Direct Subscription will terminate; however, you may continue to use the software you obtained prior to termination of your student status subject to the terms of this agreement.


3d. No commercial use.
Except as provided below, you may not use the DreamSpark Direct Subscription software for commercial purposes or commercial software application development, publication or distribution unless you first purchase the appropriate commercial license(s) for the software.

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BOOO! Beat me by 11 seconds! – Canadian Luke Apr 11 '14 at 18:57
I was actually working on this for a little longer than 11 seconds. ;) – Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007 Apr 11 '14 at 18:58
Same here, lol. – Canadian Luke Apr 11 '14 at 18:58
Well we BOTH deserve up-votes then! :D Have one... – Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007 Apr 11 '14 at 19:00
And you too! BOOM! – Canadian Luke Apr 11 '14 at 19:01

Dreamspark answers most of these questions when you sign up.

First off, they don't advertise the limit of activations; they expect you to only use it as licensed (for educational purposes). You can't use it for commercial use or gains, and you must remove it when you cease to be a student/faculty member of an educational institution.

You need to read through the Dreamspark EULA for the exact details of what you're allowed to do. Hardware changes are only going to affect your activation status when they are MAJOR changes (i.e. motherboard, hard drive, video card, CPU). Do small changes, and you'll be fine.

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If changing the video card is "major" change then what constitutes a "small" change? Unless you're saying that changing a few elements at one time is a "major" change. Personally unless I'm going to get a new motherboard I don't see myself changing more than one component at a time. – ST17 Apr 11 '14 at 19:10
Usually, when you change a few elements at a time – Canadian Luke Apr 11 '14 at 19:15

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