| By Fred Langa |
If you’re one of the many Windows Secrets readers who’s charged with managing multiple PCs — and I bet you are — you may be juggling a half dozen or more Windows installation CDs and DVDs.
Here’s how to stay sane while making sense of the different setup discs that shipped with the systems.
Which setup CD goes with which PC?
Have you ever ended up with a fistful of setup CDs without a clue as to which discs came with which PC? I sure have, and so has Geoff Nicholls:
- “Your [Feb. 12] column, “Retrieve a lost product key for Windows XP,” was very useful and partly solves my problem, having found the key for each PC.
“But, like many of your subscribers, I look after multiple PCs and have stored all of the discs in the same place over different generations. Is there a way to find which disc relates to which PC? XP Pro vs. Home is easily sorted, but does a key apply to a certain service-pack level as well?”
First — just to be clear — a Windows product key is generally supposed to stay with the PC it was originally installed on. The key doesn’t change with normal updates and service packs. It remains in force for the life of the OS on a given machine.
Now consider that all PCs running the same version of XP — or any version of Windows, for that matter — draw from the same pool of original code and updates. With one exception that I’ll mention in a moment, your installations of XP Pro, for example, are essentially the same as mine and all others everywhere in the world. We have different licenses and keys, but the core OS code is more or less interchangeable.