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I would like to know if it is legal to use the same Windows 7 Home Premium license key on my laptop and on my desktop? Someone told me that I could because MS allows you to use the same key on a laptop and a desktop. I have searched but cannot seem to find an answer that satisfies me.


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migrated from Jan 13 '10 at 18:54

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I tried to do it and it fails when you install on the 2nd box. I think "Activation" is there for that purpose. However you can purchase a family pack that can be used to upgrade up to 3 computers in the same household:

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I believe the family pack has been discontinued. (It was too good of a deal.) – Jon-Eric Jan 13 '10 at 19:45
This is kind of what I thought. When I read Molly's response about the old XP EULA I remember how it went and I can see where it would cause issues here with Windows 7. My goal was to run W7 on my laptop and on my Parallels VM on my Mac. Not a big deal. I will purchase an upgrade for the Parallels install. I have a full XP license there with an upgrade to Vista already on it. So, I think I am safe in purchasing a W7 upgrade for the Parallels install. – user24707 Jan 13 '10 at 20:40
1 may be legal to do what you want, but technically you can't do it due to software restrictions added by MS. Now it's pretty easy to get around those restrictions, but that in itself may not be legal (even if you aren't doing anything illegal after removing the restrictions, simply removing them may be illegal, thanks to various laws bought (aka lobbied) by large companies) – davr Jan 13 '10 at 20:48

According to the EULA, it's pretty black and white. This is for the retail copy, I'm betting the OEM copy is even more restrictive.

a. 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.”

b. Licensed Computer. You may use the software on up to two processors on the licensed computer at one time. Unless otherwise provided in these license terms, you may not use the software on any other computer.

c. Number of Users. Unless otherwise provided in these license terms, only one user may use the software at a time on the licensed computer.

d. Alternative Versions. The software may include more than one version, such as 32-bit and 64-bit. You may use only one version at one time. If the manufacturer or installer provides you with a one-time selection between language versions, you may use only the one language version you select.

Also worth noting that, having a single processor with multiple cores still counts as one processor according to the EULA. While, a single die with four cores might offer similar performance (sort of) to four dies with single cores -- only the former would fly with this license.

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No, it's not legal to use the same operating system license key on more than one machine.

You might be confusing the situation with licensed software like perhaps Word and Visual Studio that might allow you to install and run on more than one machine as long as you only run one copy at a time.

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As said, you need a family pack in order to this legally.

The other options to you are a fully packaged product - install on as many machines as you like - but only allowed to be on one machine at any one time. Or you can use OEM, but if you plan on getting a new pc (you are allowed to upgrade an existing one), the licence will die with that machine.

But, for any standard licence other than family pack, it is not legal and you will be breaking the EULA.

Lastly, Microsoft do have various licensing schemes that do allow a single serial key for multiple uses - however, these are not really designed for home users and can get very complicated!

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You can 'technically' use the same license on many physical machines as long as only one and only one of those machines is in phyisical use. For your example you can 'technically' have windows installed on your desktop and laptop machine and as long as one of them is turned off and not in physical use you're good to go.

As you have found out from other answers, activation will probably prevent you from doing this. Activation is set to gather details about your hardware (CPU, disk drive, motherboard, etc) and create a custom key that will only allow that machine to run a valid version of windows. Moving the installation to another physical machine will cause the hardware detection to fire off again and invalidate the installation.

Good luck and hope hope this helps some.

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Do you have a source for this? Sounds dubious. – RJFalconer Jan 13 '10 at 19:03
@BlueNovenmber - I've heard about this also before ... don't have any sources at hand, but there was a trial maybe 5-6 years ago (give or take) in which that was one of the main topics. Gained some media interest at the time. – Rook Jan 13 '10 at 19:14
I remember hearing about this too. Wish I could remember the exact source... – Marcin Jan 13 '10 at 19:19
This sounds dubious given Windows Genuine Advantage. It may have been true at one point, but I doubt it is any longer. – ChrisF Jan 13 '10 at 19:58
And this is what I get for not having a copy of Windows 7's EULA hanging around. – Chris Jan 13 '10 at 21:10

Someone told me that I could because MS allows you to use the same key on a laptop and a desktop.

Someone was obviously referring to the old XP Professional EULA which caused some confusion back in the day:

The Product may not be used by more than two (2) processors at any one time on any single Workstation Computer.

Of course, a Laptop does qualify as a workstation in this context. Who thought "Cool, i can use it on my workstation AND my laptop" was wrong, this didn't go down too well with the Windows XP Activation Server :)

However,'s answer is spot on regarding the legality of using the same product with the same license on more than one computer.

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I called microsoft and the tech support said that you can use the license on ONE desktop and ONE laptop. She told me this when i was inquiring about the anytime upgrade for my laptop.

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Really? I don't think so. The Windows license is just for one PC – Magnetic_dud Dec 8 '12 at 21:57

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