So I recently custom built a computer and installed windows 7 Home Premium with a Dell OEM disc that came with my laptop and tried using my dell laptop's activation code. It doesn't work and I don't understand why. I used a dell CD and the dell code and it still doesn't activate?
You need a new Windows license for every computer you have.
If you buy a Retail license, you can take the license to a new computer, during install, it may tell you to call microsoft and then you tell them you have scrapped the old computer and they will tell you a new code to use on the new computer.
OEM keys are supposed to be locked to the computer it came with. So that key is only good for the specific laptop it came with (NOT ANY DELL). The only exception is if your laptop actually was replaced due to defect. But in that case Dell would setup your new laptop and take care of the windows part.
So, you can buy a new OEM license for your new custom computer or a new Retail license.
If you buy a OEM license, the same rule applies. In the future if you get ANOTHER computer, you cannot take the license with you to the new computer.
For this difference, the licenses have different prices.
So I have to buy a new key to activate the custom built computer?
You will need a new install disc as well, because the one supplied by Dell will be modified to allow it to activate automatically on Dell hardware.
raytseng's analysis is more or less correct, it just doesn't make the distinction between volume OEM keys used by the likes of Dell, HP, Asus, Acer, etc, and individual OEM keys. Volume OEM keys tend to work on a broader array of hardware within a specific vendor, individual OEM keys are locked in large part to the motherboard they are first activated on. Retail keys can be transferred to another computer, but only if you delete the old copy first.
It is up to you if you want to buy an OEM copy of Windows 7 or a retail copy. If you buy a retail copy, make sure it is the "full" version, and NOT the upgrade. The upgrade version will not work for you. The key part of the Windows EULA is that you are allowed to run a single copy of the software on a single computer.
Your copy of Windows is locked to the PC on which you purchased it.You cannot transfer that license to another PC.
You can upgrade any components or peripherals on your PC and keep your license intact. You can replace the motherboard with an identical model or an equivalent model from the OEM if it fails. However, if you personally replace or upgrade the motherboard, your OEM Windows license is null and void.
on the most part that is correct. i got lucky with microsoft activation, my key failed the fith install of xp so i called em up and they asked the activation number and then asked why i was reinstalling. i said upgrades. the guy then gave me a fresh activation key. i reinstalled xp 7 more times after that and just used the phone activation to do it. each time i installed i was adding new hardware including cpu/motherboard/gfx and hdd's basically by the time i come to sell it there was nothing other than a 160gig hdd in the original pc case and even that was no longer used as a boot drive, from the initial build.
it seems when i told the guy i was upgrading he changed my o.s status at there end from oem which has 5 installs only to retail which allows you to install as many times as you need to within reason over a year. all told i installed that oem version of xp 12 times. so my advice is phone them and speak to a rep. tell him you cant activate after putting in new hardware and he may just do you the favor he did for me.