-   General (
-   -   Moving pre-installed Windows 7 to a different computer (

travissparks1307 12-11-2010 12:36 PM

Moving pre-installed Windows 7 to a different computer
Hello Forum!

I have a question.

I am buying a new laptop (yay!:D) and I've decided to give my old one to my Mom, because she doesn't have a computer. Well, my old one is running Ubuntu 10.10. She would prefer, of course, Windows. Now, my new computer is going to have Windows 7 pre-installed, and I don't want it. I thought I would give it to her. Is this possible? Is it as simple as making a recovery DVD on my new computer, sticking it into the old one, installing it, and putting in the product key from the new computer? Would that work? I mean logic would say so, but Microsoft isn't exactly logical. Is this even possible? If so, will the way I had in mind work? Or will it require a different procedure? I have discussed this with her, and while she would prefer Windows, and I promised to do what I could to get Windows on it for her, she is prepared to use Ubuntu, and is willing to learn. So if it isn't possible, we're not screwed.

BTW, the computers in question ARE built by the same manufacturer, they're just different models in the same family. I don't know if that matters or not.

I will be more than happy to answer any questions about the setup or specs of the system in question in order to expedite a resolution.

I thank you all in advance.

paulsm4 12-11-2010 01:43 PM

Short answer: No, sorry :(

Here are more details:

What it does:
The Windows 7 Recovery Disc can be used to access a system recovery menu, giving you options of using System Restore, Complete PC Backup, automated system repair, and a command-line prompt for manual advanced recovery.

What it doesn't do:
You cannot use the Windows 7 Recovery Disc to re-install Windows - it only fixes (not replaces!) Windows.

AlucardZero 12-11-2010 01:46 PM

Can you just switch hard drives?

Else, I'm not sure, but maybe extract the key from the preinstalled Windows disk, then use a Windows install disk and plug in the key? You should do some more research to see if that is possible.

cantab 12-11-2010 02:15 PM

You have two problems here: technical and legal.

The legal problem is that you're not allowed to move an OEM installation of Windows to another PC - unless of course local law in your jurisdiction overrules that restriction in the Windows Seven EULA.

If the old laptop came with Windows originally, your lawful option is to use its key and its Windows CD to install its original version of Windows. If you've lost the Windows CD, some manufacturers will provide you with a replacement at a low cost - said replacement is only good for that company's PCs. In all cases, your other lawful option is to buy a new retail copy of Windows.

The technical problem is that you presumably don't have a normal windows installation disk, or a normal license key.

You can use disk imaging. In order to install windows by disk imaging, you first need to run the sysprep tool on the source (the new laptop) to "generalize" the image. Then, you create a disk image of your source machine, and apply it to your target machine (old laptop). When you boot the target machine you will have to go through some aspects of Windows setup, including providing a license key - and the OEM key for the new laptop may not work.

paulsm4 12-11-2010 04:10 PM

Hi, again:

Q: Is it as simple as [Windows 7] recovery DVD on my new computer...?
A: No. Your recovery DVD will only work on a PC with Windows 7 already installed.

Latios 12-11-2010 05:06 PM

Copy the new hard drive to the old one using dd (you can plug both drives in any desktop pc - laptop sata drives are compatible with desktop sata, or perhaps use dd over a nfs ntwork), and try booting it up

Or, copy the first partition with ntfsclone and install ntldr (the windows bootloader) or grub for windows (see in the grub page) on the target drive to boot it

If the computers are similar in their basic hardware (esp. chipsets, sata controllers etc) I guess this should work. However, dont expect the recovery system built into the drive (or recovery dvds you can make) to work properly on the other computer. Instead, create a separate partition (like what /home would be in linux) bigger than the system partition, and store a dd of the system partition in the "home" partition. If the system gets screwed up boot from linux cd and restore the dd

Remember that the recovery dvds can be burned once, after that the feature is blocked. I had come around this drm (on somebody's new computer where he asked me to set up dual boot xp and vista) by doing a dd of the entire hard drive, burning the dvds, and recovering the dd so it won't remember anything

As a note, I would not feel shame to install Windows from a copied retail cd on the old computer, using the license code that came with the new computer. It still would be only one copy running on this license code

I am not sure whether any of the above is allowed by the license of the windows on the computer, i think it is not. The license of the pre installed windows is different from the license of retail windows

You can try to return the windows only and get refund for it, then buy retail windows on the refund $. If you click accept / reject on a terms screen etc, you might want to make dd backup before that ;)

gnashley 12-12-2010 04:21 AM

I doubt that moving the hard drive or copying it will work either. When Windows is activated it includes a lits of hardware installed which can only be exchanged in a very limited fashion. I mean, if you try to replace the motherboard with a new one, the numbers won't match and you get a non-working system. So, coyping/moving the drive will probably not work as *all* the hardware will be different from that which is registered to the installation.

allend 12-12-2010 04:38 AM

Provided the product has not been activated on the new PC, then the licence key will be valid for any new install.
A better option may be to upgrade the Windows version on the old PC to Windows 7 and activate it using the licence key from your new PC. This would then invalidate the Windows 7 on the new PC, but you are going to scrub entirely anyway.
I suggest you talk to your dealer about this.

travissparks1307 12-12-2010 06:56 AM

Wow, this has really opened my eyes. I should have known it wouldn't be that simple. To give you some more details, the new computer is using a Pentium, the old an Athlon X2, the new one has a 500GB HD whereas the old a 320GB. So that should answer a few questions. I don't have any kind of Windows disk for the old one, when I first got it, I used fdisk to completely obliterate the partition table and wipe out anything Microsoft. And if that wasn't enough, I peeled off the microsoft product key on the bottom to complete the non-Microsoft aesthetic. Short sighted eh? Acer, (the manufacturer) charges like $20 for "recovery media" which may be an option. I'm not sure if it is or not since I no longer have the product key.

paulsm4 12-13-2010 02:15 AM


Acer, (the manufacturer) charges like $20 for "recovery media" which may be an option.
No, it isn't.

Because recovery media != install media.

Product code or no product code :)

Spend $100 for a new copy of Windows.

Or spend $70.00 for a copy of Norton Ghost, and clone your Windows PC.

Or clone your PC this way.

But you're screwed as far as the media you have now.

travissparks1307 12-13-2010 07:03 AM

It seems to me that cloning software would only work if using the same size partition or larger. Bummer. Well, not really. I myself couldn't care less about Windows 7. It's my mom. But she doesn't know anything about computers anyway and would have to learn everything from scratch anyhow. She's already prepared to learn Ubuntu, which, let's face it, is far, far, far better than Windows anyway. I appreciate everyone's helpful advice and suggestions, but I'm just going to say screw it, and stick with Ubuntu. She'll thank me later anyway ;)

Thanks everyone!

MTK358 12-13-2010 02:18 PM

Why does she want Windows? Did she have a Windows PC before?

Otherwise, I think you should definitely start her right with Linux :)

Latios 12-13-2010 02:22 PM

You can configure linux to behave a lot like Windows, basically install KDE 3.5 and change the K icon to windows icon, and rename the appliKations in the menu, and a .sh to randomly kill applications to make them appear crashing

cantab 12-13-2010 03:09 PM


Originally Posted by travissparks1307 (Post 4189668)
It seems to me that cloning software would only work if using the same size partition or larger. Bummer.

Microsoft's ImageX tool will make "Windows Image" files of Vista and 7 installs that can be applied to a partition of any size.

Latios 12-13-2010 03:24 PM

As far as I know ntfsclone can do that too, just need to install boot loader after that

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 09:01 AM.