Reuse Windows 7 OEM Key?

Aug 3, 2018
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This is going to sound weird but, I want to change my OEM key to a retail key so I can move my hard drive to another computer since I don't want to use Windows 10. I'm just buying a product key online so I have no clue if it may fail on me so I want to know if I have something I can lean on. Also if the product key DOES work, will I be able to just shove my hard drive into the new build? Cause when I did use Windows 10, I was able to just put the hard drive into the new build and start it up normally (minus the few minor stuff due to not having proper drivers installed yet cause of different motherboard)
Specs of my new build (going from i5-7500 to i5-6500 so I can stay with Windows 7)
https://ca.pcpartpicker.com/list/y8JtXH
 
Short answer: unless you're moving the disk to the same exact underlying hardware, it won't start directly.

Long answer: yes, it can work with a few caveats. Windows will refuse to start unless you change the kernel and drivers, so you will need to "install over" the current installation for it to pick up the new hardware. On the off-chance that you're lucky and the current installation actually starts without needing the re-install, you will still need to "clean" the old drivers and such. This will make your Windows installation, probably, act a bit funky from time to time. It's a trade-off you need to take into consideration as well.

So, in conclusion, the theory is there to support your idea. Give it a try IMO, since you can always just put the drive back and re-install everything if nothing makes the drive work in it's "new house".

Cheers!
 

Wolfshadw

Titan
Moderator
With Windows 7 and new hardware, while it might work just moving the drive to another computer, you REALLY want to perform a clean install of the OS.

As for licensing, you cannot "move" your current Windows 7 OEM license to a new computer. It remains tied to the original computer the OS was installed on. Purchasing a new license resolves that particular issue, but if you're going to try and just move the hard drive from the old computer to the new computer and re-activating Windows with the new license, you need to make sure the new license if for the same version OS as the old OEM license.

For instance, if the old license is for Windows 7 Home Premium 32-bit, that is the exact version of Windows you need to purchase the new license for if you're going to try and just move the hard drive. If, on the other hand, you perform the clean install as suggested, you can purchase any version of Windows licensing you wish.

One more point of note: The only reason a Windows license would fail is if you are purchasing it from a non-authorized reseller. I would not recommend even trying this. Either get Windows 7 from a legitimate seller (PC Part Picker List), or run Windows 10, downloaded direct from Microsoft using the Media Creation Tool without activation.

-Wolf sends
 

Wolfshadw

Titan
Moderator


But you are at the mercy of the tech you speak to. Per the agreement, you cannot transfer it. If you get a willing technician, then ok.

-Wolf sends
 

PdxPetmonster

Commendable
Mar 14, 2017
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True, but the possibility is there. Just takes being polite , along with some creativity during the conversation.
 


Funny personal anecdote... I recently installed Windows 10 and I was just lazy enough to not buy a new license and gave an old University Windows 7 Pro key a shot...

Lo and behold, it worked like a charm. This was 2 months ago, mind you.

Point being: maybe it will just work with a clean install! Like I said, since the possibility of just going back to the original build with the original OEM license is there, might as well experiment. If you lock the license, you can just give MS a call and tell them to delete the other activation of the license. A friend did this and they didn't even ask why.

Cheers!

EDIT: Formatting and typo.
 

androbourne

Estimable
Jul 18, 2017
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From what I've been seeing online. They still haven't deactivated the Windows 10 free upgrade activation servers yet. I have created a Windows 10 ISO straight from Microsoft Media Creation Tool and upgraded PC's to Windows 10 without having to purchase a key WAY after the free update period has ended.

However don't count on this working in the near future. I'm sure soon they will get wind and shut down the activation servers.

As for as OEM with Windows 7. The OEM license key is normally embedded by the manufacture onto a chip on the mobo. You should be able to take out your hard drive and then do a clean install of Windows 7 using an OEM cd and it should self activate. Then use your retail key on the new PC you are using where you moved your hard drive too. (this varys from vendor to vendor but large vendors like HP, Dell etc... use this process).

Also as Wolf said. It is also against the terms to move an OEM key to another system. (in the case i mentioned above you are not moving the OEM key). But if you do move it. Just be aware Microsoft is totally in their right to deny you the key move to another system. That key is tied to the system and manufacture. That is basically the difference between an OEM key and a Retail Key is that one legally can be moved while the other can not.

 
Aug 3, 2018
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So since I want to stay with Windows 7 and use my new rig, I have to do a clean install of windows 7 on the hard drive in the new rig? What makes you really need to do a clean install instead of just putting it in? I have the drivers right away to set up for the new motherboard so I'm curious on what makes it not work.
 

Wolfshadw

Titan
Moderator
No, you do not have to do a clean install unless the OS horks up and then you do. To prevent that from even happening, I always recommend performing a clean install.

Even though you have installed the new drivers and such for the new hardware, everything that says the old hardware is still on the drive. It may never be read again, but if some program didn't get the message that it's supposed to use these new drivers and the computer addresses are over here instead of over there where the old ones are, it's going to error out.

At best, the program crashes out and nothing else is affected. At worst, you get a BSOD in the middle of doing something else and you spend hours/weeks trying to figure out what the heck happened. In the end, you do a clean install anyway.

-Wolf sends
 

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