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How much hardware can change before a new Windows 7 disc is needed?

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  • Windows 7
  • Product
Last response: in Windows 7
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January 5, 2013 4:46:39 PM

Sorry about the repost, I seem to have accidentally posted this in the XP sub-forum the first time around.

I bought the 99$ OEM disc on NewEgg and I remember hearing that there is some limited space to upgrade things. But beyond a point the collection of different PC parts (for example if I upgrade the motherboard, CPU, and the boot drive) would be considered a new PC by whatever ID checking methodology Microsoft uses.

I'm just wondering at what point is that line crossed? At what point will Windows 7 actually say "Cannot boot onto this drive, it looks like you already used this disc on another computer." And is there a way to work around this? I have a pretty decent setup but my boot drive is a 128 GB SSD, I suspect that will be the first thing I want to upgrade. The motherboard+CPU I hope to keep for another 4 years if I can help it, but... even then, if and when I do change them I would like to keep the current copy of Win7 if I can.

I look at prices of XP on Amazon, and it looks like they're up to 300$. I also saw some pretty sketchy looking ones on ebay for around 60$. I worry that the same thing will happen to Win7 in a few years, that the discs will get so rare nobody is going to be able to find them anymore. Microsoft has already stopped making them, if I'm not mistaken (what with the big push for Win 8).

More about : hardware change windows disc needed

a b $ Windows 7
January 5, 2013 4:50:14 PM

win7 gets tied to you motherboard.
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January 5, 2013 4:57:16 PM

it's kinda a poopshoot either you change the motherbord and you don't need another Win7 or you change motherboards and that windows is gone forever you just have to get lucky
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a b $ Windows 7
January 5, 2013 5:00:20 PM

OEM license is tied to the motherboard. You can replace with an exact same motherboard, but you can not upgrade the motherboard without invalidating the license.
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January 5, 2013 6:13:30 PM

I remember hearing on the Max PC podcast, someone mentioned something about calling up Microsoft technical support and pleading your case to them. Apparently if you spin it a certain way (or maybe it was blatantly lying... "I'm not sure what happened, this is the motherboard I've always used, I was just restoring the OS and the disc won't take!") and make enough noise, they'll fix it for you.

I just don't remember the exact details of how this was done.
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a b $ Windows 7
January 5, 2013 6:22:03 PM

PTNLemay said:
I remember hearing on the Max PC podcast, someone mentioned something about calling up Microsoft technical support and pleading your case to them. Apparently if you spin it a certain way (or maybe it was blatantly lying... "I'm not sure what happened, this is the motherboard I've always used, I was just restoring the OS and the disc won't take!") and make enough noise, they'll fix it for you.

I just don't remember the exact details of how this was done.


Microsoft has been proven in years past to show some compassion (I know scary right) when it comes to the product keys and licenses for the older OSs (XP, Vista, and even 7) being used more than once. You typically have to be the same owner and it usually has to be an extreme case such as motherboard replacement, HDD failure and motherboard replacement, etc. You can spin it however you want but if the HAL.dll file that gets sent to Microsoft when you connect to the internet for the first time reports back to them that there has been a board change and you are trying to use the same license, they will reject it. That's also why you see several people telling others to call them, not try it over the web because they can override the authentication process and give you an approval code to make it genuine.
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January 5, 2013 6:36:27 PM

True, Hedwar, very true....
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January 5, 2013 8:29:19 PM

Best answer selected by PTNLemay.
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January 6, 2013 5:02:52 AM

I recently had to replace the motherboard on two of the same model of computer. I bought new motherboards from Newegg, not replacements. The internet activation didn't work, but the phone activation worked great. Also had to reactivate Office (by phone as well). This was just the normal phone activation, not tech support.
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