I'm now a Mac user, but used to have a Windows laptop that I upgraded from Vista to 7 quite a while back (2 years now). I've not used the machine since I got my Mac, and wondered if there is any way of deactivating the license so it can be used on another Windows box (desktop) that I'd like to do some experimental stuff with, to save me purchasing anew?

It was an upgrade only license, but there is Vista on the box I want to upgrade, too.


2 Answers 2


Retail licenses (full and upgrade) of Windows 7 are transferable. With an upgrade license, the new computer must also already have a valid license.

Referring to the Windows 7 retail licenses:


a. One Copy per Computer. You may install one copy of the software on one computer. 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.

d. Alternative Versions. The software may include more than one version, such as 32-bit and 64-bit. You may install and use only one version at one time.


To use upgrade software, you must first be licensed for the software that is eligible for the upgrade. Upon upgrade, this agreement takes the place of the agreement for the software you upgraded from. After you upgrade, you may no longer use the software you upgraded from.


a. Software Other than Windows Anytime Upgrade. You may transfer the software and install it on another computer for your use. That computer becomes the licensed computer. You may not do so to share this license between computers.

b. Windows Anytime Upgrade Software. You may transfer the software and install it on another computer, but only if the license terms of the software you upgraded from allows you to do so. That computer becomes the licensed computer. You may not do so to share this license between computers.

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    It was an upgrade only license, but there is Vista on the box I want to upgrade, too. I should perhaps have specified that in the original post, but I agree entirely - Windows licensing = pain in the backside. Was hoping that as my computer hasn't made an update request in many-a-month, it would work. Jan 3, 2012 at 17:44
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    You should be okay, then. An upgrade license is transferable so long as there is a valid license on the computer you wish to use.
    – iglvzx
    Jan 3, 2012 at 17:47
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    Correct, thik of it this way. OEM Licenses are licensed to the COMPUTER. Retail licenses (Upgrade or Full) are licensed to you. You should be free to move that around as you wish if the target computer has a existing older copy on it. But again, only on one machine at a time. Jan 3, 2012 at 17:49
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    @Paperlantern All relevant sections of the EULA have been quoted!
    – iglvzx
    Jan 3, 2012 at 18:16
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    iglvzx you are a fast one, i just spent about the last 20 minutes combing the EULA as well and found that exact same excerpt, i copied it, was ready to come here and paste it in, and you've already done so, looks like 5 minutes after I started looking. You sir are a Ninja. Jan 3, 2012 at 18:18


Windows licenses are not transferable just like that. To transfer a license you need to pay a fee and be part of a Microsoft Approved Agent to do so. Transferring licenses is usually used in refurbishing laptops.

All this information is in the end user agreement.

But- for purposes of experimenting you can install windows in trial mode.

You can try to use the license if you wish to stick with it on the other machine and activate it online- Sometimes it will accept this.. but if it gets declined there is nothing to worry about. Microsoft is not allowed to keep records of where you tried to put the license in, but they do monitor excessive licensing request. eg- you share your license online and the MS servers detect hundreds of license requests per day.. It will get banned,

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    Not true. If you have a retail license (full or upgrade), you may transfer it to a new computer. With an upgrade license, a valid license must also already be on the new computer.
    – iglvzx
    Jan 3, 2012 at 17:30
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    Incorrect. If he has a retail copy of Windows 7 he can install it on any machine he wants as long as it is only one machine at a time. He can activate it as many times as he wants, again as long as it is only on one machine at a time. It may get to the point where he will have to call MS to activate, but he can still put it where he pleases, he paid for it, it's his license. The only license that is non-transferable is the VISTA license that came with his machine from the OEM (if it in fact was OEM, but being a laptop, I assume it was). This is what I was driving at in my answer. Jan 3, 2012 at 17:32
  • Yea - i know you can do that... but if you read the end user license it is not allowed.. at all. Legally the answer is NO!
    – Piotr Kula
    Jan 3, 2012 at 17:32
  • The author likely purchased an upgrade license since they had Vista installed ( OEM ). So they have a chicken in the egg, they have a Vista license that cannot be transfered ( tied to the OEM equipment ) but have an upgrade license which requires a valid Vista installation.
    – Ramhound
    Jan 3, 2012 at 17:34
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    Again this is why i asked if it was an upgrade or a full retail copy in my answer. And ppumpkin, please stop pushing this issue, you are incorrect, a retail license allows you to move it around as you wish as long as only one instance exists at any one time. There is nothing in the EULA that prevents you from doing this. Jan 3, 2012 at 17:37

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