I have a Thinkpad with a somewhat broken installation of Windows 7, and I'd like to reinstall it. Unfortunately, the built-in recovery partition may not be working.

Can I use the CD key that comes with the built-in installation with a regular Windows 7 CD?

  • It depends whether your key was preactivated or whether the activation is on TPM (although I believe that is Windows 8 and above) or if your key is retail...
    – Kinnectus
    Jun 9 '17 at 13:15
  • Can I use the CD key that comes with the built-in installation with a regular Windows 7 CD? - Absolutely
    – Ramhound
    Jun 9 '17 at 15:23

Yes you can, and since you are performing a clean install on the same machine to which that key belongs then the MS EULA explicitly allows you to do so. MS only complains if you are trying to move it from one machine to another.

While for most versions of windows you need to use an OEM disk, with windows 7 MS actually had a flash of non stupidity and this is not required. Just install and when you put in the key it will automatically switch between retail and OEM version of the OS as appropriate. You do need to have the right version in terms of pro/home/enterprise etc though.

Interestingly for certain versions of windows the preinstalled version doesn't even use your key (the one on the sticker). instead using a bulk key specifically for OEMs like toshiba to bulk activate installs with. Where the key on the sticker is specifically only to be used when the customer performs a clean install on their own.

You should be able to get the installation disks you need from Toshiba themselves. Or from microsoft if you have an MSDN subscription.


Yes, maybe, yes.

Horrible answer I know but it really depends on the versions. Most of the time if you have an OEM CD then you'll be able to use the code. However, if you have, say a Dell install disc and you try and use it, it will not accept another computer, since it checks.

Worst case, you'll need to find the version that will allow you to install with that specific key.

  • You can't transfer an OEM licence to another machine.
    – DavidPostill
    Jun 9 '17 at 15:14
  • @DavidPostill this depends on country, in Germany it is allowed, bundling of software to hardware is forbidden. Jun 9 '17 at 15:44
  • @magicandre1981 Germany is the only exception AFAIK. See No, OEM Microsoft Windows licenses cannot be transferred to another PC
    – DavidPostill
    Jun 9 '17 at 15:58
  • @DavidPostill great, so we us it is allowed :) Jun 9 '17 at 15:59
  • @magicandre1981 The Windows 10 EULA includes a specific exception for PC buyers in Germany, who are allowed to transfer OEM software thanks to a court ruling. - " Transfer. The provisions of this section do not apply if you acquired the software as a consumer in Germany or in any of the countries listed on this site (aka.ms/transfer), in which case any transfer of the software to a third party, and the right to use it, must comply with applicable law."
    – DavidPostill
    Jun 9 '17 at 16:03

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