I've browsed around a here bit and searched the net for while and haven't found the exact answers to my questions, but I think I've learned enough to ask you guys the right questions and get confirmation of my suspicions.
I got my computer a few months ago from a kid who built it in his basement. He installed Windows 7 Pro 64-bit but didn't give me the disc when I picked up the PC. I only have the activation key.
Having some trouble and want to reinstall Windows so I just purchased Windows 7 Home 64-bit OEM that a friend said would work. I haven't opened it yet because my gut is telling me I'm in for trouble
Tell me if I am understanding correctly:
1) the OEM discs do NOT come with a key, you have to use your existing key
2) your existing key HAS to be for the exact same product (ie: if your key is for the Pro edition, then your OEM disc has to also be the Pro edition), so I need to send back the OEM Home and get OEM Pro
Am I missing any other options here? Hind site is 20/20 and I should have done my research about buying a PC without the Windows disc.
If you've bought an OEM package, it will have its own license key. You can install the OS from the package and use the key that comes with the package to activate it. The restriction is that if you later want to reinstall on different hardware the OEM key won't allow you activate it again (although if you have to replace your motherboard because it died, for example, you can phone Microsoft and get an override).
In fact if you can find a Windows disc and if you're installing on the same hardware that you had originally, you should be able to use your original activation key. If the original key was a retail key it wouldn't even have to be on the same hardware.
2) All windows-7 dvd's are exactly the same, either 32 bit or 64 bit. The key you use to activate is what determines how you install, and what version of windows is installed.
In your case, if you can borrow a 64 bit windows dvd, you can use it to reinstall, using the original key that was given to you. See if you can't download a legitimate ISO so that you have a dvd to use. A dvd has some repair and recovery features that you may find useful.
The oem package you bought will serve this purpose, but you will have a extra activation key that will be unused.