Hey just have a question that I have not been able to find a straight answer for. Is it legal to buy a pre-built computer store bought and remove the hard drive with windows 7 already on it and put it into a custom built computer? Does it even work? I was wondering because I don't want to pay 200+ dollars for just a hard drive and operating system. kinda ruins the whole idea of a "budget" build.
If you want windows to work and be legal then, no, it will not work. OEM copies of windows are tied to the motherboard and cannot be installed onto one that is different from the one that was originally used and activated with it.
You can use the Hard drive but you are going to have to do a fresh install of Windows on it. Some might tell you to use Norton Ghost or Acronis True Image but the best way is to format the HDD then install Windows. But you just can't take a hard drive out of one PC, put it in another and expect the operating system to work.
I'm not advocating you use a less than legal version of windows, but there is a good possibility that just swapping the drive to a new PC will work. I have done it with decent success, but I think it matters which motherboards are in each machine. If they are similar enough, it usually works. I've used various Intel motherboards to do this. p45 win 7 install worked fine on a p67 board. Definitely not ideal, but possible, legalities aside.
humphreybot, have you done this with an OEM version of windows? It is explicitly stated in the license that an OEM version, once it is installed and sold to the customer, is tied to the original hardware. Changing hardware breaks the license.
But I ask since MS does things for people versus following their own rules.