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Windows 7: Does any Windows 7 key work for any Windows 7 disc?

20 Feb 2011   #1

Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit
Does any Windows 7 key work for any Windows 7 disc?

Easy question but I can't seem to find a definitive answer. My factory-Vista-installed laptop has been having some crazy issues, so I decided to do a fresh OS install. I didn't have the Vista disc, but I did have the 64-bit Windows 7 Home Premium disc that I used to install Windows 7 on my desktop last year.

So I installed Windows 7 on the laptop but obviously didn't register it since the only key i have is tied to my desktop, so I'm running in "demo" mode or whatever you'd like to call it.

I've got the laptop issues sorted out now and even have a lot of stuff set up on the laptop now just testing different things to make sure it wasn't going to crash on me. Now that I have all this stuff setup, I need to buy Windows 7 so that I have a legit product key to register the copy on the laptop. Question is, can I just buy a copy of Windows 7 and use the product key without reinstalling W7? Will any product key work with any disc, or is it somehow tied to the disc and I'll be forced to do a fresh OS install?

Thanks a ton for any help.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
20 Feb 2011   #2

Windows 7 x64 pro/ Windows 7 x86 Pro/ XP SP3 x86

Win7 keys are edition specific, so a home premium key will work only with home premium and no other edition. Keys are not architecture specific so the same key will work on 32 bit windows or 64 bit for a given edition. You need to buy a win7 home premium key- the cheapest option would be a System builder edition from newegg and the like.

You dont need to do a fresh install- just enter the key via the system properties page.

FYI, system builder copies are tied to the first motherboard they are installed on and are not legally transferrable. If you want the convenience of transferrability (but using on only one computer at a given time), buy a retail copy. A retail upgrade (different from retail) is a good cheap option but since you have everything setup, it may not be a very good option. But if you're game for reinstalling the OS and everything else, Upgrade license makes sense.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
20 Feb 2011   #3

Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit

Good to know Bill. So the disc I used to install Windows 7 on my desktop, that I also just put on the laptop to ensure it was working okay, is as follows...


So I should be able to purchase this edition from Newegg - Microsoft Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit 1-Pack for System Builders - Operating Systems and just use the product key off of it, correct?
My System SpecsSystem Spec

20 Feb 2011   #4
Microsoft MVP


Yes, but you could also insert a Home Premium Upgrade version key which can migrate forever.

If Vista was on the HD when you installed Win7 the flag has already been passed to allow Upgrade version key. If you installed to cleaned HD, use one of the workarounds given here: Clean Install with a Upgrade Windows 7 Version

The best deal on Win7 by far right now is the Home Premium Upgrade Family 3-pack for $129 at Newegg and Amazon: three for almost the price of one.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
20 Feb 2011   #5

Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit

I only need one version though. It's a fresh HD with a fresh install of Windows 7, no Vista upgrade. $95 for the one I linked to seems good enough for me. I didn't see anything cheaper even on the Vista upgrade side of things, so the workaround would just create more work for me, would it not? Can't I just purchase the one I linked to and register the current install with the new OEM System Builder Windows 7 Home Premium 64 bit product key since it's the same OS?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
20 Feb 2011   #6
Microsoft MVP


Yes you can just insert the OEM Product Key at Computer>Properties>Change Key as Bill said.

My only point is that you can get Home Premium Upgrade for about half that price per license if you want to invest now in three licenses which can migrate for life, which OEM cannot do.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
20 Feb 2011   #7

Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit

Ah, gotcha. Definitely a great point. I'd assume since Windows 7 is relatively new it'll be a while before Windows does an overhaul on it. It would be nice to have the extra installs just in case. We only have two PCs in the house, one of which already has W7 on it, so I really just need the laptop. Doubt we'll be getting another computer any time soon, and it would probably have W7 on it already.

Lets say I wanted to replace my built desktop with another built desktop. I could essentially unauthorize my W7 Home Premium system builder install on it, and then install and authorize it on the new desktop right? Or is it that once it's tied to this one desktop, it's tied to it forever? Is that what you meant by the ability of the three keys to migrate?

I'm not super tech savvy so sorry if these seem like pretty basic questions.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
20 Feb 2011   #8
Microsoft MVP


Builder's OEM version is tied to the first mobo installed upon.

MS has reportedly been making some exceptions during activation phone calls, but you cannot count on this as the EULA is clear that it cannot migrate as Full Retail or Upgrade can.

Many users have an extended family member, kid at school, etc. where Family Pack can also be useful. You just need to safeguard the keys yourself so they are not passed any further.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Does any Windows 7 key work for any Windows 7 disc?

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