I have an old Windows machine, that's dying from how terrible Windows is. I'd like to switch to Gentoo, but to avoid many problems I'd like not to dual boot. I'd still like to keep my license to Windows though, because, y'know, it costs $100+.

Therefore, is it possible to uninstall Windows, keep the license, and install it on another machine later in time if needed?

  • 3
    If the machine is Windows 10, your license is maintained and you can use it again on the same machine. If the machine is Windows 7, you need the Windows 7 installation media and key to reinstall.
    – John
    Aug 19 '20 at 16:16
  • @John is this true for all hardware and windows versions?
    – GChuf
    Aug 19 '20 at 16:18
  • Windows 10 maintains the license if you install it on the same computer. This is because Microsoft creates a digital signature for your PC and ties the Windows license to it. If you sign into the Windows installation with a Microsoft account, that license also gets tied to that account, and you can view it from your MS profile. If you want to move the Windows installation to another PC, you should grab your Windows key, so you can transfer the license to the other computer easily. Otherwise you might have to call Microsoft licensing to have them unlink the old PC, and give you the key. Aug 19 '20 at 16:19
  • @hextech - True for Windows 8 and 10, not true for Windows 7 or anything prior. Prior to Windows 8, you need your media and key.
    – John
    Aug 19 '20 at 16:31
  • 1
    In short - retail license, transferrable [even if you have to ring MS to get them to authorise it]. OEM, not transferrable.
    – Tetsujin
    Aug 19 '20 at 16:59

You need to consider what operating system is on the machine.

If Windows 10, the license for Windows 10 is maintained in the Windows licensing server and you can always install Windows 10 on the same machine.

If the machine is Windows 7, you need the installation media and key to reinstall. Microsoft does not keep the Windows 7 key.

If the machine is Windows 8, you need the installation media but the system has the key and you can reinstall Windows 8.

  • I'm on Win10 :) can I install windows on another machine though? Through that same license?
    – Bobbbay
    Aug 19 '20 at 16:38
  • No. Only on the same machine. You cannot use the (OEM) license on another machine
    – John
    Aug 19 '20 at 16:45
  • We have yet to establish whether this is an OEM or Retail license.
    – Tetsujin
    Aug 19 '20 at 16:51
  • It is most likely OEM - most machines are that way.
    – John
    Aug 19 '20 at 17:04
  • 1
    Prebuilt using system software licensing is usually OEM around here. It may vary where you purchased it. OEM is cheaper to supply
    – John
    Aug 19 '20 at 18:01

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