One common question I ask all the time is: How many computers can I install Windows on? If you read, you will get all kinds of answers. However, for legal purposes, it is best to stick to what Microsoft says in its end user license agreements.
There are always ways to get around the limitations, but that’s not the point of this article. In this article, I’ll list the official Microsoft installation options for Windows 7, Windows 8, and Windows 10. Continue to the section that interests you.
Windows 10 operating system
Everything in Windows 10 is very different from previous versions of Windows. From now until July 29, 2016, you can upgrade any Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 PC to Windows 10 for free. After that, no one knows what will happen next.
Obviously, you have to pay to update, but after people were allowed to update for free for a year, it will be difficult to get people to pay for it. After July 2016, the home version will be priced at $ 119 and the Pro version at $ 199.
Therefore, if you want to install Windows 10, it is best to do so before that date. It’s also worth noting that with a free upgrade, you will be left with the version that is closest to the one you had.
Above is a table that explains which version of Windows 10 you will have depending on which version of Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 you currently have. To upgrade from Windows 10 Home to Pro, you still need to pay $ 99, which Microsoft currently charges.
It should also be noted that if you upgrade from Windows 7 or Windows 8 to Windows 10, or if you have an OEM version of Windows 10 after July 29, you will not be able to transfer that copy of Windows 10 to another computer. Right now, you can reinstall Windows 7 or 8.1 on a different computer and then upgrade to a free 10 upgrade. If you have a retail version of Windows 10, you can transfer it to another computer even after July 29th. P>
If your Windows 10 license is based on a Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 license (even a retail license) and you need to replace the motherboard on your computer, Windows 10 will no longer be activated. It only works with the current hardware on this computer. This can be problematic because if you get a free upgrade to Windows 10 and then replace a bunch of components on your computer after July 29, 2016, you will receive a counterfeit version of Windows.
You will then be asked to pay to upgrade! At the moment there are only two solutions that I know of, either do not replace any basic parts on your computer, or if you need it due to a bad motherboard etc., then call Microsoft explain your situation and they will give you a new code. Microsoft’s VP of Technical has publicly tweeted that in situations like this you will need to contact support.
In terms of virtualization, Windows 7 was great because you could install one copy on your computer and use the same key to install a virtual copy of Windows, which I will explain below. However, with Windows 10, Microsoft is back on track. In the new EULA, a virtual copy of Windows 10 requires its own license key.
(iv) Use in a virtualized environment. This license allows you to install only one copy of the software for use on a single device, whether physical or virtual. If you want to use the software on more than one virtual device, you must obtain a separate license for each instance.
Windows 7 and 8.1
For Windows 7. it depends on which version of Windows 7 you have. You may have a preinstalled copy that came with your computer (OEM), a retail version purchased from a store, or a family pack purchased from Microsoft.
The number of computers you can install Windows 7 on is the same regardless of your Windows version: Ultimate, Home Premium, Starter, Professional, etc.
Here is the licensing summary and the official text of the Windows 7 End User License Agreement:
INSTALLATION AND USE RIGHTS.
a. One copy per computer. You can install one copy of the software on one computer. This computer is a “licensed computer”. b. Licensed computer. You may use the software simultaneously on two processors on a licensed computer. Unless otherwise provided by these license terms, you may not use the software on any other computer. c. The number of users. Unless otherwise provided by these license terms, only one user may use the software at a time. d. Alternative versions. The software can include more than one version, such as 32-bit and 64-bit. You can only install and use one version at a time.
So that pretty much says how many computers you can install Windows 7 on! ONE! Now if you have a family package, you can do a clean install or upgrade up to 3 computers. Note that for retail versions of Windows 7, you can also uninstall Windows 7 from one PC and install it on another, although you may have to call Microsoft when activating it.
The only caveat, which is highly welcome, is that you can install another copy of Windows 7 on the same licensed machine in a virtual machine. However, it must be on the same computer. Here is the official text:
d. Use with virtualization technologies. Instead of using the software directly on the licensed computer, you may install and use the software on only one virtual (or otherwise emulated) hardware system on the licensed computer. When used in a virtualized environment, content protected by DRM, BitLocker, or any full volume disk encryption technology may not be as secure as protected content outside the virtualized environment. You must comply with all national and international laws that apply to such protected content.
This means you can install VirtualBox or Hyper-V, insert your Windows 7 DVD, and install another copy there for free! This is the only part of the license agreement that differs from previous versions of Windows.
For Windows 8.1, the rules are pretty much the same. If you have an OEM version of Windows 8.1 or a version that has been upgraded from Windows 7, you can only use that version on that one computer. If you need to transfer it to another computer, you will need to call Microsoft and explain the situation.
If you have retail version 8.1, you first need to deactivate the license on the computer and then use the product key on the new computer to activate. The product key can only be used to activate one computer at a time.
For virtualization, Windows 8.1 has the same license terms as Windows 10, which means you cannot use the same product key in a virtual environment. Apparently, only Windows 7 allowed another copy to be installed using virtualization software without obtaining another license.
Hopefully this article explains how to install different versions of Windows on your computers. It’s tricky and I haven’t explained all the details and caveats, so feel free to leave comments if you have questions. Enjoy!