Reinstall Windows and Office on a New PC

Gord MacDonald's PC died. He asked me if he can install his copies of Windows and Microsoft Office onto a new PC.

If you're talking about versions of Windows and Office that came with the old computer, the answer is no. Those copies are licensed to a particular PC.

And if you bought the Windows 7 Upgrade rather than the full retail version, the answer is still probably no--unless the new computer has XP or Vista already installed.

But if you're talking about full retail products, yes, you can--provided you still have the original discs and the packaging that came with them. You need the packaging for the product key--that long alpha-numeric string that identifies your particular license.

That license (or licenses if we're talking about Windows and Office) is tied up with the old computer. That can cause a problem when you're trying to activate the software on the new PC, but not an insurmountable one.

The simplest solution is to uninstall the programs on the old computer before you activate them on the new one. Click here for Windows 7 uninstallation instructions.

But what if your old PC is unbootable, making it impossible to uninstall anything?

Unless you're building the new computer yourself, you probably don't have to worry about installing Windows 7; the computer will come with it already installed. Of course, if your retail copy is a better version--say, Windows 7 Ultimate instead of Home Premium--you may want to install it, anyway.

If you choose to install your retail copy of Windows, and the activation fails, complete the installation without activation. Once Windows is running, click Start, type slui 4, and press ENTER for the telephone activation wizard. Follow the wizard until it gets you on the phone to a human being.

Installing Office is pretty much the same. If the new PC came with a trial version, uninstall that first. Then install Office from your disc. If you run into a problem, you'll be directed to call Microsoft. You actually get three licenses with the retail version, so it may be awhile before you run into that problem.

Add your comments to this article below. If you have other tech questions, email them to me at answer@pcworld.com, or post them to a community of helpful folks on the PCW Answer Line forum.

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