Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Moving Windows 7 from one computer to another

The aim here was to use my copy of Windows 7 on a different computer to the one it was installed on. I was aware that the Microsoft license agreement only allows one installation on one computer, so I was expecting a possible problem, but not the rigmarole I had to go through.

I thought I'd just try installing Windows 7 on the new computer and then, when it told me "you can't do this because you've already got an installation", I'd follow instructions to de-activate the existing installation. But there was nothing. So I successfully did my second installation, using the same product key as on the first machine and thought "oh well, perhaps Microsoft isn't bothered after all".

Of course, Microsoft WAS bothered and I was eventually told I had to "activate" Windows 7 or else it would gradually disintegrate. Following screen prompts, I was duly informed that I couldn't activate it on this machine.

Next the Windows Activation Wizard springs into action and gives you a phone number - 0800 018 8354 - and a series of numbers which I initially found incomprehensible. I phoned the Microsoft service centre - 0844 800 2400 - and was told by someone who spoke like a robot that I had to uninstall my original 7 before I could activate it on the new machine. Fair enough, but how would that enable me to activate it on the new one? He didn't know. I had to phone the activation number for that.

Anyway, this is the process you have to follow:

1. Uninstall Windows 7 on your first machine - wipe the partition in my case.
2. Ring 0800 018 8354 and start the activation wizard on your new installation. This is to be found in Control Panel under "System".
3. Follow the prompts on the automated phone system and key in the 8 groups of 6 numbers which you see on the screen.
4. When asked how many computers you have Windows 7 installed on, answer 1.
5. The automated phone lady will then give you 8 more groups of 6 numbers which you key in on your computer screen.
5. Bingo! You are activated!

A reasonably straightforward process when you understand how it works, though why Microsoft needs to use 48 character codes only they know!