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May people keep Windows after changing their hardware?

7 replies [Last post]
Gustavo's picture
Joined: 2006-09-11

Hi, everyone!

On GGL we say:

GGL/Windows wrote:

For most Windows® licenses, you can't keep the software when you change the hardware.

However, an Spanish-speaking person got in tough with me to tell me that it is untrue. He said its EULA just says that the processor can be replaced once if you want to keep the same license... If you get to change it more than once, you'd have to buy another license. This is, you may replace the rest of the hardware and keep the license legally.

Who's right?


Joined: 2006-03-28
I'm not sure but I guess

I'm not sure but I guess when you buy your license independant from the computer you can change your hardware as much as you like, as long as you make sure the old hardware is not used anymore to run on the same license (for example when you replace your hard-drives).
But an OEM-version, which are the versions shipped with the computer, is tied to the computer and it's full hardware.

At least that's how I know it, doesn't mean it 100% right though.

libervisco's picture
Joined: 2006-05-04
A Croatian computer

A Croatian computer magazine (VIDI) would agree with that. It has an article on just that subject.

From what I understand this is true in any case, even if you get an OEM version. You can change the hardware all you wish, but you can't have more than a single licensed copy running on more than a single machine.

Of course that still sucks, but saying that is redundant here. Sticking out tongue

Gustavo's picture
Joined: 2006-09-11
Alright. Thank you so much,


Thank you so much, reptiler and libervisco!

ariadacapo's picture
Joined: 2006-07-13
If you need more

If you need more information, here's an extract from a µS document named "OS license Q&A"

Microsoft wrote:

6. What is the difference between OEM product and Full-Packaged Product (FPP)?
ANSWER. OEM products are intended to be preinstalled on hardware before the end user purchases the product. They are “shrink wrapped” and do not come in a box like the retail
products do. Full-Packaged Product (FPP) is boxed with CD(s), manuals, and the EULA and is sold in retail stores in individual boxes. The End User License Agreements (commonly referred to as “EULAs”) for OEM and FPP products are slightly different. One main difference is that an OEM operating system license (such as the license for Windows) cannot be transferred from its original PC to another PC. [...] Also, when a customer purchases an OEM product, the OEM license requires the OEM to provide support for the product.


9. Can I transfer my operating system license from an old PC to a new one?
ANSWER. Not unless it was purchased as a Full-Packaged Product from a retail store (i.e., Windows in a box). Current OEM licenses for all Microsoft operating system products are not
transferable from one machine to another. The End User License Agreement (EULA) governs the terms for transfer of licenses. Some EULAs for copies of certain older OEM operating system
products (i.e., MS-DOS®, Windows® 3.1, and Windows for Workgroups 3.1) distributed in 1995 or earlier may permit transfer of the OEM operating system software license under limited
circumstances. (See Software Product Transfer section of your End User License Agreement.)

10. If I “retire” a PC with an OEM license on it, can I use that software on a new PC?
ANSWER. No. To put it simply, OEM product is “married” to the original PC on which it was installed. Current OEM licenses are not transferable from one machine to another. The software
cannot be moved from PC to PC, even if the original PC it was installed on is no longer in use. This is true for all OEM software – operating systems and applications.

11. If I upgrade some of my PC components, do I have to purchase a new operating system?
ANSWER. The answer depends on the components that are upgraded or changed in the PC. The operating system licenses must remain with the device that retains the motherboard, chipsets, and chassis that include the serial number of the device. The operating system may be installed on a new/replacement hard drive as long as the operating system is first removed from the old hard drive.
Please refer to the section on “Modifications to hardware and how they affect the activation status of Windows XP” in the following link for a more detailed explanation regarding specific hardware changes. The same hardware component changes that can be made to a PC before requiring re-activation of Windows XP are the same changes that can be made before a PC is considered to be “new” - and when a new license for OEM software is required.

I have no data to support this, but I believe the vast majority of Windows OSs around are pre-sold (OEM) versions, thus the sentence quoted above.

On a side note, there's a pretty sickening one in the same document:

Microsoft wrote:

8. What do I do if I realize that I do not have a full license for Windows, or if I received a donated PC that did not come with an operating system license?
ANSWER. If you do not have a genuine operating system license, you can acquire a Full-Packaged Product (FPP) version of the product from your local retail store. Or you may purchase an OEM version of an operating system from a Microsoft System Builder, subject to the requirement that you purchase hardware with that OEM version of the product. At that time, you should receive a genuine EULA, Certificate of Authenticity (COA), and manual. Visit the Microsoft How to Tell website to determine whether you have genuine software and licensing;

I like to remind this to those people who quote Bill Gate's numbers on charity and donations. My best friend runs a small humanitarian association and occasionally sends computers to a highschool in Mali. What has happened already is that associations in France or elsewhere send computers there... without any OS at all, as per the above term (thanks, Bill!). In the shipment there is often a copy of Windows so the "piracy" happens over there and not within the associations, which would make them instantly illegal.
Happily the next shipment (already on its way, 14 computers) features Ubuntu :-)

libervisco's picture
Joined: 2006-05-04
Darn I guess I was wrong

Darn I guess I was wrong that you can uninstall from one PC and install to another, unless they changed it with Vista..

Anyway, it's really sickening the way they impose artificial restrictions. They say you "can't transfer" an OS from one computer to another. Oh really? That's what you say and try to force on me, not what the nature of software allows, and for what good reason exactly; to maintain a monopoly? Man if people were only reading these EULAs, GNU/Linux would be much more popular already indeed!

edjay's picture
Joined: 2007-04-23

I can only suppose that is the reason the make the EULA's so long and legally precise: They know damn well that no-one will read them. There should be a simplified version, about six or seven lines so that everyone at least has some idea.

I think it is well known that if people did understand the restrictions and ripoffs they are being put through, they would disagree.

I presume the "A" under your avatar means Admin'? I changed my full name ( Elfed Dowler-Jones ) for edjay. I didn't realize that it had to stay the same after registration. Ooops! :-)

libervisco's picture
Joined: 2006-05-04
You're quite right about

You're quite right about EULAs.

And yeah "A" means admin. You don't have to keep your current username after registration. You can ask me to change it and I'll do it, but as said in other thread it's ok now that you re-registered.

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