Licensing quiz answers

This post contains the answers to the licensing quiz I published earlier.
Written by Ed Bott, Senior Contributing Editor on

Here are the answers to the licensing quiz. If you missed the quiz, go back and read the questions here. (And if you think I got something wrong, leave a note in the Talkback section. I've researched these answers very carefully, but the subject is complex and ever-changing, and it's possible I missed something.)

1. False. You can legally install a retail copy of Windows XP on one computer, remove it, and install the same copy using the same product key on a second computer. In theory, you can repeat this process as often as you want, although you probably won’t be able to activate those new copies over the Internet.

2. Unlimited. As long as the hardware is substantially unchanged, you should be able to activate Windows XP over the Internet after any number of reinstallations.

3. False. Even after you change the display adapter and RAM hard drive, Windows XP would still consider the hardware configuration to be “substantially the same.” See this article for details on the 10 hardware categories that are used to calculate whether reactivation is necessary.

4. False. An OEM license is bound to the system on which it’s originally installed and cannot legally be transferred.

5. False. This used to be true, and some online retailers still haven’t corrected their websites. But in August 2005, Microsoft changed its OEM licensing rules, eliminating the silly requirement that you had to buy a trivial little piece of hardware along with an OEM operating system. Now, anyone can buy an OEM version of any Windows operating system, including Windows XP Media Center Edition 2005, if they are a “system builder.” And the rules of the System Builder program specifically state that a hobbyist qualifies, without having to join any organization or pay any fees.

6. False. Volume License agreements – including Academic, Gevernment, and Public Sector licenses – are for use only with upgrades. You need to purchase an OEM or full packaged product license for the original PC.

7. False. The 20 or so largest OEM computer makers are called Royalty OEMs. On computers built by these companies, the preinstalled copy of Windows (including the recovery CD) contains configuration files that look for specific information in the system BIOS. If they find that information, no activation is required. This procedure is called System-locked preinstallation (SLP).

8. True.

9. False. On a computer manufactured by a Royalty OEM that uses SLP (see the answer to question 7), the product key found on the sticker attached to the side of the PC is not used. If you reinstall Windows using the original SLP CD, no activation is required. If you try to install using a different OEM CD and the key from the sticker on the PC case, it will be rejected and you’ll have to phone in for activation.

10. False. Small OEMs are required to provide a CD, a Certificate of Authenticity, and a product key, which must be the same one used to install and activate Windows. Big OEMs (the so-called Royalty OEMs) mayprovide recovery media for each computer, but are not required to do so. If they do, the media must be protected so that it can be used only on that particular computer.

11. One.

12. Three. The license for Microsoft Office 2003 Student and Teacher Edition says you can legally install and activate it on up to three computers in your home. Note that the license specifically forbids using this edition of Office for business purposes.

13. Two, but only if the second copy is “a portable device for the exclusive use of the primary user of the first copy….”

14. False. To legally install Microsoft Office 2003 Student and Teacher Edition, you must be a “qualified educational user or a household member of a qualified educational user.” If you have a child in school, you qualify. If you’re a part-time student taking six or more credit hours in an accredited institution of higher education, you also qualify. (More details here.) You can continue to legally use the software even after you and the kids are out of school.

15. True.

16. True. But only if you have a retail or upgrade copy of Windows. OEM products don’t qualify. And the discounts are pretty meager.

17. True. You’ll have to jump through some hoops, though, and it’s possible that you won’t succeed. For lost Office product keys, start here. For a lost Windows product key, start here.

18. False. Although your Windows CD is not specific to your individual product key, that doesn't mean you can use any old Windows CD to reinstall. Product keys require media that matches the type of license the key represents. If you have an OEM product key, you need an OEM CD. For a retail or upgrade product key, you need retail media. If you try to reinstall from retail media and enter an OEM product key (or vice versa) , you'll get an error. In addition, media that has a service pack integrated into it may not work if the key was originally distributed with the original RTM version of Windows XP or a different service pack.



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