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  1. #1
    New Lounger
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    When would I ever need to use the product key printed on the Certificate of Authenticity sticker on a Windows system? I have wiped and re-installed Windows on several of my computers using the included recovery media, and I have never been asked to enter a product key during the re-installation of Windows. I know that Microsoft licensing terms do not allow the key to be used on another computer, and the product key wouldn't work with just any Windows disc.

    Would there ever be an instance when I would actually need to use the product key attached to my computer?

  2. #2
    5 Star Lounger
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    You have one of the BIOS verified type systems (Dell or HP perhaps?) that don't ordinarilly need re-authentication but I can think of two instances where you may and that's if there ever is a hardware failure that upon replacement triggers re-authentication. Also, in a few instances of WGA it comes back as a false positive (but WGA thinks it positive only) for pirated software, and that might be triggered seemingly out of the blue and you would need the product key to verify its legit with Microsoft again. There's probably another instance or two where you would need it as well. Its always the exception that will bite you right in the southern region if not prepared. I've had to use the product key twice now on systems that wouldn't ordinarilly need it because of motherboard failure.

  3. #3
    Star Lounger
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    That is not an OEM key. That is your MS Activation Key and you should make copies of it to keep with your windows disk. It is unique to your computer and you will use it when you replace or reformat the hard drive or replace other hardware.

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    Plutonium Lounger Medico's Avatar
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    Actually the key printed on the tag affixed to the PC probably is an OEM product key. Most retail keys are printed on other media that comes with the disk and most people do not affix them to their PC's. And yes Pizzor2000, there may be instances as related by Byron where this key might be necessary. Unfortunately an OEM copy of Windows does have to follow the PC it was originally installed on whereas a retail copy can be installed on a new PC as long as it is removed on the original PC. Do not loose the producct key. If you remove it from the PC, save it for future reference.

    As an example, my laptop has a tag affixed to the backthat is for Win Vista since my PC originally came with Vista and included free upgrade to Win 7. Needless to say, it now has Win 7. The tag actually states Windows Vista Home Premium OEM with the product key. If I ever (for the life of me I cannot figure out why I would) wish to reinstall Vista I would need this key so I have left the tag attached where it is.
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  5. #5
    5 Star Lounger
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    My daughter accidentally wiped out the hard drive on her laptop, including the recover partition. She re-installed Vista from a retail installation DVD that I had, and after installation went to the computer properties dialog and changed the product key to the one printed on the bottom of her laptop. Then she let it activate. Now she is back up and running.

    You should keep track of that key for as long as you own that desktop or laptop - it gives you the right to run that particular version of Windows on your PC.

  6. #6
    New Lounger
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    Quote Originally Posted by Peter Johnson2191 View Post
    My daughter accidentally wiped out the hard drive on her laptop, including the recover partition. She re-installed Vista from a retail installation DVD that I had, and after installation went to the computer properties dialog and changed the product key to the one printed on the bottom of her laptop. Then she let it activate. Now she is back up and running.

    You should keep track of that key for as long as you own that desktop or laptop - it gives you the right to run that particular version of Windows on your PC.
    Hmm. I wonder if that trick would work on XP. I have an old laptop that came with XP Home, but no recovery disc. I purchased a retail copy of XP Pro and completely wiped the hard drive on the laptop when I installed it. Maybe I should try that if I ever want to put the original OS back on it.

    On one of my laptops, the license key is actually fading off of the sticker. It sounds like it would be a good idea to keep a separate list of all my OEM product keys before it completely disappears.

  7. #7
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    The key that you have is for Home and will NOT work with Pro.

    Now running HP Pavilion a6528p, with Win7 64 Bit OS.

  8. #8
    New Lounger
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    Oh, I know. I probably wasn't clear on my previous post: I was thinking about using another XP Home CD to recover the original OS, much like Pete's daughter did, not using its product key with my Pro CD.

    I've always wondered if I had any way to utilize the "dead" product key on my laptop if I ever did decide to move my XP Pro to another system.

  9. #9
    Plutonium Lounger Medico's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pizzor2000 View Post
    Oh, I know. I probably wasn't clear on my previous post: I was thinking about using another XP Home CD to recover the original OS, much like Pete's daughter did, not using its product key with my Pro CD.

    I've always wondered if I had any way to utilize the "dead" product key on my laptop if I ever did decide to move my XP Pro to another system.
    The key attached to your old PC is the OEM key that came with that PC. If you are asking if you can use a different XP Home Premium CD to install on this PC (I'm not sure of the exact name in XP anymore) then use your OEM key to activate it, then yes I believe you can. The key is not embedded in the disk. That's why it has to be entered. As long as this is the original PC the OEM key was associated with, and the version of XP is the same as the original version, I believe it will work. That key will not work on another PC.
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  10. #10
    Star Lounger
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ted Myers View Post
    The key attached to your old PC is the OEM key that came with that PC. If you are asking if you can use a different XP Home Premium CD to install on this PC (I'm not sure of the exact name in XP anymore) then use your OEM key to activate it, then yes I believe you can. The key is not embedded in the disk. That's why it has to be entered. As long as this is the original PC the OEM key was associated with, and the version of XP is the same as the original version, I believe it will work. That key will not work on another PC.

    That key will work with any CD of the same OS model/type (XP Home, Pro, etc.), and will work with any other PC, it's just MS's silly OEM licensing rules that tell you not to.
    It's up to you how much you love adhering to MS's ludicrously restrictive EULA's, but it will work.
    What won't work is using the same Product Key on several PC's - that's the real no-no.

  11. #11
    New Lounger
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    Aren't the keys for a particular service pack level as well? I thought the key would only work on a disc with the same service pack that was pre-installed on the computer.

    I had also heard that a retail disc will not install with an OEM key or vice-versa. From what I understand, however, an OEM disc from another computer manufacturer might work.

    That is, at least, what I had gathered from XP, but they may have changed the rules with Vista and 7.

    Are either of these restrictions true? If so, I would need to track down an OEM install of XP Home SP2 if I want to restore that laptop of mine with the original key.

  12. #12
    5 Star Lounger
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pizzor2000 View Post
    Aren't the keys for a particular service pack level as well? I thought the key would only work on a disc with the same service pack that was pre-installed on the computer.

    I had also heard that a retail disc will not install with an OEM key or vice-versa. From what I understand, however, an OEM disc from another computer manufacturer might work.

    That is, at least, what I had gathered from XP, but they may have changed the rules with Vista and 7.

    Are either of these restrictions true? If so, I would need to track down an OEM install of XP Home SP2 if I want to restore that laptop of mine with the original key.

    1> Aren't the keys for a particular service pack level as well? No

    2> I had also heard that a retail disc will not install with an OEM key or vice-versa. Retail disk will install fine with an OEM key. Some OEM disks will only install on computers where they recognize the Bios as the correct Manufacterer. Others will install but will not automatically activate if they are used on the wrong brand.

    That key will work with any CD of the same OS model/type (XP Home, Pro, etc.), and will work with any other PC, it's just MS's silly OEM licensing rules that tell you not to.
    It's up to you how much you love adhering to MS's ludicrously restrictive EULA's, but it will work.
    What won't work is using the same Product Key on several PC's - that's the real no-no.

    I am not here to preach a sermon, but the fact that the EULA ties the OEM version of the software directly to the original PC "may" be partly why the OEM version is priced at a considerably lower cost than the full version.

  13. #13
    New Lounger
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    Quote Originally Posted by mercyh View Post
    1> Aren't the keys for a particular service pack level as well? No

    2> I had also heard that a retail disc will not install with an OEM key or vice-versa. Retail disk will install fine with an OEM key. Some OEM disks will only install on computers where they recognize the Bios as the correct Manufacterer. Others will install but will not automatically activate if they are used on the wrong brand.
    Hmm. That's good to know.

    I just happen to have a retail copy of XP Home, SP2. If I ever do decide to retire my laptop to its original OS, I could try using that disc with the laptop's own XP Home key.

  14. #14
    Star Lounger
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    Errr....

    No, Home and Pro use different keys.

  15. #15
    New Lounger
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    I said I have a retail of XP Home.

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