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Using windows vista/xp for upgrade - COA?

Ok, so I've been looking all over the internet for this and I've wound up getting a bunch of different information on the issue. I'm building a new system, and I can get a very cheap upgrade verison of windows 7. However, I'm not sure if I have an xp/vista install lying around anymore... and if I do, it'd be OEM from a branded PC. So this raises a series of questions:

1) If I find an old xp install disc (likely from a dell but the actual install, not recovery disc), can I use that to install a base xp on my system? Will I need an activation code before I can upgrade (I assume yes), and more importantly, if I were to use the Dell COA code from the case, the hologrammed cd card (if I have one), or a viewxpkey pull from the dell would it not work (since it's likely OEM COA and tied to Dell mobo)? Is there a way around this?

2) Could I borrow a legit install/key from someone to install the base for the upgrade and then give them back the disc/key (would their product key be free again for reuse)?

3) I see on ebay people selling COA's for various windows products (xp or vista), however most of these seem to have branding on them, wouldn't I encounter the same issue when trying to use that key?

4) Does the trick shown here actually still work? Basically allowing you to install upgrade software without having to first install the actual earlier OS?: http://www.maximumpc.com/article/howtos/how_use_your_windows_7_upgrade_disk_fresh_pc?page=0,0

4) Would a somehow otherwise *found* product key as a last resort work for an upgrade?
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