I have in past conversations with people been told of a subscription that I can pay for to obtain legal copies and product keys of Microsoft operating systems and software. I am kind of new at this stuff and have encountered numerous people who have a HHD failure and need a new Hard disc installed and a new OS, (they never make the recovery copies do they?), It would be much quicker and easier if it were possible to download install and activate Windows from a subscription.
I want to do this legally! I do NOT want pirated software.
If anyone has information on how to do this I would appreciate it.
I believe you are referring to Microsoft TechNet. I must point out however, that TechNet keys are for use only by the person who purchased the subscription. Should Microsoft find out about it, giving away your keys can result in your subscription being terminated at Microsoft's discretion, and selling the keys will get your account terminated, and Microsoft pursuing legal action against you.
I think you're referring to MS TechNet subscriptions, for which it is only legal to use the software yourself. If you want a ton of licenses for different computers, you'll need a Volume License. Volume Licenses are really meant for computer builders, large companies, etc., but I guess you could try that if you're really set on it.
EDIT: The_Prophecy beat me to it!
OK, I knew about the Technet subscription. I was under the impression that there was another to be used for the purpose I sited above. This does explain why I couldn't find any information on it though doesn't it.
Looks like its back to the old drawing board for me on this one.
Note that even Technet or MSDN can't do a "download install". If you subscribe to Technet then what you download is an ISO file which must then be burned to an optical disk to install.
Also note that if someone's hard drive fails then what they really want is a new installation that uses their old license key - anything else means a new purchase of Windows.
Personally I don't see what the problem is in installing from an optical disk. An OEM or large corporation would benefit from setting up an installation server so that they could stamp out multiple PCs with predetermined configurations, but it's a significant amount of work to set that up and it doesn't sound like it's what you're looking for.
Changing the HD would not prevent you from reinstalling an OEM version of Windows or from restoring a system backup to it. If you don't have the disks, you should buy backup software and an external HD. That would be a lot cheaper than trying to buy a Technet or MSDN subscription just to get Windows.
MS subscriptions are for developers and solutions providers to have access to MS products for development and testing. They aren't cheap, but they are less expensive than having to buy full versions of the programs when all you want to do is test with them.
Whether you burn the files to a DVD or extract them to a hard drive or flash memory drive is really not the issue. The point is that even with Technet you end up needing to boot from some sort of installation media. That's not what I took the original poster's "download install" to mean - I assumed he was referring to something like the Windows Automated Installation Kit which lets you boot the system over the network to install a preconfigured version of the OS.