Removing MS sticker from computer


K

Ken

I am sure I am overlooking some simple explanation to my question, but
here goes: Often a used computer, particularly laptops, are sold with
no sticker indicating the CD/Product key from Microsoft. Since many are
OEMs such as HP, what good does it do to remove and try to use this key
again. I assume that is why they are being removed. It is my
understanding that the key is tied to the hardware. What am I
overlooking???
 
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W

Wolf K

I am sure I am overlooking some simple explanation to my question, but
here goes: Often a used computer, particularly laptops, are sold with
no sticker indicating the CD/Product key from Microsoft. Since many are
OEMs such as HP, what good does it do to remove and try to use this key
again. I assume that is why they are being removed. It is my
understanding that the key is tied to the hardware. What am I
overlooking???
Nothing.

I once tried to activate a copy of XP Pro from a dead computer (which by
that time was already dismembered, and many of its parts in the
dumpster). Tried the phone route. The tech person told me that was
impossible.
 
C

charlie

Nothing.

I once tried to activate a copy of XP Pro from a dead computer (which by
that time was already dismembered, and many of its parts in the
dumpster). Tried the phone route. The tech person told me that was
impossible.
There was a reseller agreement that the reseller was to install a new
copy of windows and use a new key.
Another variant had to do with large corporate customers and "their"
keys. On top of that, some of the OEM keys don't agree with the sticker.
(Had to do with bulk loads during production)

In the past, I'd advise customers to buy a retail key or media with key,
as the used/referb laptops we sold had windows reinstalled, but not
"keyed" or activated. Got out of that business, too much hassle.
The used laptops often needed a new battery, and the cost of the battery
even at a net price was high. (Unless you cared for "Hong Kong prices
and quality.)
 
G

Ghostrider

There was a reseller agreement that the reseller was to install a new
copy of windows and use a new key.
Another variant had to do with large corporate customers and "their"
keys. On top of that, some of the OEM keys don't agree with the sticker.
(Had to do with bulk loads during production)

In the past, I'd advise customers to buy a retail key or media with key,
as the used/referb laptops we sold had windows reinstalled, but not
"keyed" or activated. Got out of that business, too much hassle.
The used laptops often needed a new battery, and the cost of the battery
even at a net price was high. (Unless you cared for "Hong Kong prices
and quality.)
Not entirely accurate. The MS product key is valid only if the
reseller provided the original media and corresponding manuals
or other paperwork that came with the original system. This takes
care of mis-matched OEM product keys to the installed OS and apps.

As for computers installed by a large "volume" user, the OS and
are supposed to be removed before systems are liquidated either by
sale, transfer to employee, disposal, etc. The new owner needs to
buy all of the software and applications, independently.

GR
 
W

...winston

"Wolf K" wrote in message news:g%SPt.49019$zp7.821@fx03.iad...I once tried to activate a copy of XP Pro from a dead computer (which by
that time was already dismembered, and many of its parts in the
dumpster). Tried the phone route. The tech person told me that was
impossible.
What was the source of the XP Pro CD used to install the XP Pro ?
 
P

Paul

charlie said:
There was a reseller agreement that the reseller was to install a new
copy of windows and use a new key.
Another variant had to do with large corporate customers and "their"
keys. On top of that, some of the OEM keys don't agree with the sticker.
(Had to do with bulk loads during production)

In the past, I'd advise customers to buy a retail key or media with key,
as the used/referb laptops we sold had windows reinstalled, but not
"keyed" or activated. Got out of that business, too much hassle.
The used laptops often needed a new battery, and the cost of the battery
even at a net price was high. (Unless you cared for "Hong Kong prices
and quality.)
There are two license keys on a pre-built computer (Dell).

The OS already installed on the hard drive, is Royalty OEM,
and is activated automatically via BIOS SLIC table. In other
words, the OS activates, using nothing more than the knowledge
that a Dell BIOS is present.

Now, say you break the hard drive on your Dell. Both the original
OS and the recovery partition are destroyed. In that case, if
you obtain some installer DVD (a regular one), and copy the license
key off the sticker, those can be combined, to reinstall the OS.
The OS in that case, goes through "normal" activation. If there
is an issue, you might have to phone Microsoft and give them
the details. And they can decide whether your story sounds
legit or not, and straighten out the activation.

As a test, I set up a VM on my main computer, and installed
Windows 7. My laptop has a license key on the Windows 7 COA
sticker. I used that license key, and the Windows 7 installer
accepted it. But because the network was disconnected on the
VM, the OS could not attempt to activate. So I don't know
what kind of hassle would result when it attempts to activate.
At least I know the license key string is valid, as the installer
continued doing the install.

Removing the sticker, is removing that second key. What I
can't tell you, is whether the seller could "sell" that key
to a third party, without trouble. If Microsoft finds out
they're recycling those keys, I don't know what the policy is.
But it's obviously to someones advantage - we just don't
know who that is (Microsoft license terms, or seller taking
advantage).

Paul
 
P

pjp

I am sure I am overlooking some simple explanation to my question, but
here goes: Often a used computer, particularly laptops, are sold with
no sticker indicating the CD/Product key from Microsoft. Since many are
OEMs such as HP, what good does it do to remove and try to use this key
again. I assume that is why they are being removed. It is my
understanding that the key is tied to the hardware. What am I
overlooking???
All I know is that I've a couple of snips of metal taken from cases I've
thrown away the years have several different OS key stickers on them,
98SE, 2000, XP and Vista for sure. I've used the XP key across a number
of boxes as they became upgrades with never a problem.

I never throw away a key even if pc is long gone :)

I'll add, current pc using right now is running Win7. That key came from
a laptop "Win 7 upgrade" when bought at tail end of Vista and daughter
wanted to keep. I don't feel guilty at all as it shouldn't matter what
machine took advantage of the free upgrade as both were running Vista
beforehand and only one has been upgraded.
 
M

mick

All I know is that I've a couple of snips of metal taken from cases I've
thrown away the years have several different OS key stickers on them,
98SE, 2000, XP and Vista for sure. I've used the XP key across a number
of boxes as they became upgrades with never a problem.

I never throw away a key even if pc is long gone :)

I'll add, current pc using right now is running Win7. That key came from
a laptop "Win 7 upgrade" when bought at tail end of Vista and daughter
wanted to keep. I don't feel guilty at all as it shouldn't matter what
machine took advantage of the free upgrade as both were running Vista
beforehand and only one has been upgraded.
I wonder, how many people here are using just one instance of OS or
other software solely on one computer, not many if my experience is
anything to go by. Your average Joe just doesn't have the cash to
flash on buying multiple copies of software.

I think there is a lot of political correctness being sprouted here at
times regarding installing and using only on one machine. I have
bought lots of software and put it on my desktop, then thought, that
program would be handy on the laptop when I'm out. Am I going to
remove it from the desktop to comply with the licensing so that I can
use it on the laptop. No I am not.
 
W

Wolf K

"Wolf K" wrote in message news:g%SPt.49019$zp7.821@fx03.iad...
I once tried to activate a copy of XP Pro from a dead computer (which by
that time was already dismembered, and many of its parts in the
dumpster). Tried the phone route. The tech person told me that was
impossible.

What was the source of the XP Pro CD used to install the XP Pro ?
It was the original DVD and key supplied by the reseller.
 
S

Stan Brown

Since many are
OEMs such as HP, what good does it do to remove and try to use this key
again. I assume that is why they are being removed.
It's a moot point, because Microsoft has you going an coming. I could
be wrong but, if I recall correctly, the license is good for the
original purchaser with the original computer. You can't move it to
a different machine that you own, and it doesn't transfer with the
computer if you sell the computer.

Though how the second could be enforced, I don't know.
 
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A

Ant

All I know is that I've a couple of snips of metal taken from cases I've
thrown away the years have several different OS key stickers on them,
98SE, 2000, XP and Vista for sure. I've used the XP key across a number
of boxes as they became upgrades with never a problem.

I never throw away a key even if pc is long gone :)
Wow, I didn't know you can use those OEM keys on new Windows
installations. I will have to start doing that. Doesn't MS check to see
and validate if it is the same machine hardwares? Basically, use them on
a custom built PCs.
--
"Ants can lift up to 50 times their own weight. And your monitor is
missing. Time to bring out the bugspray." --BBspot's Geek Horoscopes
(2/28/2003)
/\___/\ Ant(Dude) @ http://antfarm.ma.cx (Personal Web Site)
/ /\ /\ \ Ant's Quality Foraged Links: http://aqfl.net
| |o o| |
\ _ / If crediting, then use Ant nickname and AQFL URL/link.
( ) If e-mailing, then axe ANT from its address if needed.
Ant is currently not listening to any songs on this computer.
 
V

VanguardLH

Ken said:
I am sure I am overlooking some simple explanation to my question, but
here goes: Often a used computer, particularly laptops, are sold with
no sticker indicating the CD/Product key from Microsoft. Since many are
OEMs such as HP, what good does it do to remove and try to use this key
again. I assume that is why they are being removed. It is my
understanding that the key is tied to the hardware. What am I
overlooking???
The old hardware is being sold as "hardware only" whether or not the
seller announces that fact. OEM or system builder licenses still
permit hardware upgrades and repairs and therein lies a workaround to
the OEM license by upgrading every component to effectively construct
a new computer on which is installed the OEM license. The hardware
seller moved his OEM license to the "upgraded" or "repaired" host.
That does not preclude the seller from lying or being ignorant that
his old hardware should not still have the old instantiation of the
licensed software. The buyer is getting only hardware that includes a
polluted hard disk.

How do you know the sticker was removed? It might not have been
applied in the first place. If you buy the product separately (i.e.,
it was not pre-installed), especially if you build your own computers
(instead of buying pre-builts), then the sticker may not have been
stuck onto the computer case. There is no mandate that the COA
sticker must be applied to the computer. Instead the user may have
left the COA sticker with the COA sheet lying around in an envelope
somewhere. That way if they do a 100% upgrade onto which the OEM
license gets installed they still have the COA sticker for their new
"upgraded" or "repaired" computer.

If you are buying only hardware then obviously there is no need for a
COA sticker and the seller would be wasting his software license by
applying one. If it was a retail license then obviously the seller
can decide whether or not to include it in the sale of the hardware.
If it was an OEM license, maybe it never got installed on a PC so that
license is not yet bound. The sticker doesn't have to be on the
computer but just included with the software *if* that software is
being transferred along with the hardware.

Do you have an actual online sale of a computer missing the sticker so
a specific case can be addressed?
 
C

charlie

Wow, I didn't know you can use those OEM keys on new Windows
installations. I will have to start doing that. Doesn't MS check to see
and validate if it is the same machine hardwares? Basically, use them on
a custom built PCs.
There are a lot of whereas-es involved. BIOS data is one.
Time interval "may" be another.
I just hope that MS does not do what some of the application mfrs did
with on-line registration/activation. Basically, they removed the
functions needed to register and activate older versions.
Some will give you an alternate method, if you call and complain, others
will not. When the mfr is located outside the US, it can be difficult.
The last time I got into this, Corel software was involved.

With corporate and government owned P/C's, a common practice was to
generate what amounted to a master copy that was used to install
a specific configuration of windows. Commonly used drivers for the
"lot" of systems were included. This allowed the IT departments
to maintain "configuration control", along with some other things that
may not be so nice.
"User, you have installed unauthorized software."
(and so on)
 
K

Ken

VanguardLH said:
The old hardware is being sold as "hardware only" whether or not the
seller announces that fact. OEM or system builder licenses still
permit hardware upgrades and repairs and therein lies a workaround to
the OEM license by upgrading every component to effectively construct
a new computer on which is installed the OEM license. The hardware
seller moved his OEM license to the "upgraded" or "repaired" host.
That does not preclude the seller from lying or being ignorant that
his old hardware should not still have the old instantiation of the
licensed software. The buyer is getting only hardware that includes a
polluted hard disk.

How do you know the sticker was removed? It might not have been
applied in the first place.
I appreciate your reply and those of the others. The computer I bought
was a HP laptop and it had to have had Windows 7 installed upon its
sale. In fact, I could purchase a set of DVDs from HP that will install
the software it originally came with and it would NOT ask for the key as
it is tied to the BIOS as I understand it. (Pre-activated)

The reason I posted the question was that it was my understanding that
since it was tied to the BIOS and no activation was required, I did not
understand how such a license could be applied to a computer different
from what it originally was. I thought the key would be a mismatch to
any hardware the person tried to use it on, since I thought it would
read the BIOS of that computer and see it was not the same type of computer.

I knew the laptop I bought did not have the MS label with the key, but I
did not think it would be of any use to the person who removed it unless
he had an identical computer on which to use it. If he did have such a
computer, it would already have such a label key. That is the paradox.

I think I understand about RETAIL licenses, and how such a label could
be removed and used on another computer. Factory made computers such as
HP ones however were thought to have restrictions preventing that.
Perhaps those restrictions are not as effective as I thought.


If you buy the product separately (i.e.,
 
P

Paul

Ken said:
I knew the laptop I bought did not have the MS label with the key, but I
did not think it would be of any use to the person who removed it unless
he had an identical computer on which to use it. If he did have such a
computer, it would already have such a label key. That is the paradox.

I think I understand about RETAIL licenses, and how such a label could
be removed and used on another computer. Factory made computers such as
HP ones however were thought to have restrictions preventing that.
Perhaps those restrictions are not as effective as I thought.
The key on the pre-installed image, is common to all
the machines with that same image. It's not exactly a
VLK, but is associated with the royalty OEM selling
the machine.

The sticker on the machine, as far as I know, that
key is unique to that computer. So if you saw ten
identical machines at Best Buy, the COA sticker on
each one would have a different (emergency) key.

What is unknown, is how that is recorded at Microsoft,
and what the activation server will have to say about it.
The key on the sticker, is unlikely to be an "anything goes" key.
There is no reason for it to be set up to make it easy to transfer.
And we know it does require activation, so SLIC doesn't help
in that case. I've heard of people having to phone Microsoft
when using that key (but that can happen with virtually any
key, if the activation server notes any abnormal activity,
such as too many installs with that key in a short time).
Maybe it helps cover the case, where the pre-built computer
doesn't have any exact replacement motherboards available,
and some non-SLIC motherboard is slapped in - then the phone
call gives you an opportunity to "explain yourself" :)

Paul
 
V

VanguardLH

Ken said:
The computer I bought was a HP laptop and it had to have had Windows
7 installed upon its sale.
Pre-built with pre-installed software. That means it was an OEM
license for Windows. Sticker should've been on the case.
I could purchase a set of DVDs from HP that will install the
software it originally came with
Recovery discs. Last time I did this, they charged about $20
(shipping cost). Typically they prefer you to run through their
procedure documented in the manual on how to burn the recovery discs
yourself.
and it would NOT ask for the key as it is tied to the BIOS as I
understand it. (Pre-activated)
BIOS-locked install media.
The reason I posted the question was that it was my understanding that
since it was tied to the BIOS and no activation was required, I did not
understand how such a license could be applied to a computer different
from what it originally was.
BIOS locking only locks the media to a family of models by the maker.
You're not the only one buying that model. They sell LOTS of that
same model. That means the BIOS-locking installation media will work
on ANY qualifying computer. Anyone wanting to pirate a copy of the
software could reuse the same install media.

BIOS locking is by looking at a firmware signature on the motherboard.
That same motherboard can be used in manufacture of many units of that
model and across multiple models and even by different makers. There
is no serial number in the firmware used by BIOS-locked media.
Obviously every duplicated copy of the BIOS-locked media would have no
idea of the serial number in the mobo's firmware. They don't take a
finished computer and then burn the BIOS-locked install media from it.
Imagine how that would slow production, plus if that install media
were ever lost then how could replacement install media ever be
produced?

BIOS locking only looks at the firmware to check the brand and model
will match the install media. This isn't just to restrict with which
computer the install media can be used. This also guarantees the
correct setup image is used on that model. It ensures what you use to
install the software will match the hardware on which the software
gets installed.

In the same way the image in the hidden partition used for restoring
back to the factory-time setup must match the hardware where it gets
used, the BIOS-locked install media also ensures it is matched to the
correct model so its image works with THAT hardware. It's a "this
belongs with that" scheme to ensure both work together.
I thought the key would be a mismatch to
any hardware the person tried to use it on, since I thought it would
read the BIOS of that computer and see it was not the same type of computer.
Correct. A mismmatch between the hardware and software doesn't mean
you actually have a legit license for the software. HP may simply
assume that since you have their hardware and since their hardware
always comes with an OS that you qualify for a copy of their install
media that you buy from them.
I knew the laptop I bought did not have the MS label with the key, but I
did not think it would be of any use to the person who removed it unless
he had an identical computer on which to use it.
You bought it used? If it was new then the OEM'er (HP) should've
slapped the sticker on or inside the case.

Yep, if the previous owner (if you bought it used) had the same
hardware for another computer (by the same maker and within the same
family of models) then the license key is usable to them. Say their
computer died, they bought another one just like it, but it came with
an older OS, like Vista instead of Win7. Their old box had Win7.
They want Win7 on their new computer, so they use the install media
with the old CD key to put Win7 on their new box. They remove the CD
key from their old dead Win7 host to keep with their new upgraded
computer. Then they sell off their old hardware either as-is or they
fix it by, say, putting in a new hard disk to recoup some of the cost
of buying the new replacement PC. Hell, the prior owner might've put
his old computer in a new case to give him more room, like more drive
bays, but forgot to bring the sticker along (he recorded its CD key
and didn't bother to remove the sticker from the old case).

If you buy a used computer, there are lots of reasons why the COA
sticker might not be on its case. You'll have to ask the prior owner
why the sticker is missing along with making sure if the sale included
the software license or not and, if so, why the sticker is missing.
As mentioned, could be the seller is simply selling off his old
software and keeping the software license so you get a used computer
with a polluted hard disk. If it was a retail license then the
absence of the sticker is obvious: the seller kept the license.

If you bought the computer as new, the COA sticker should be on it or
included in a document packet (they didn't stick it on but you can if
you want). Also, a pre-built from HP might've included an old version
of the software but the seller installed a later version. What the
seller got was, say, a pre-built with Vista pre-installed but your
order from the seller was for Windows 7 so the seller removed the old
Vista COA sticker, installed Windows 7 (probably OEM), and should have
either put the Win7 sticker on the box or included it with the
documentation. In this case, when buying through a reseller, the
price to change from the factory-provided OS to the one you specified
in the order with the reseller probably meant you paid a bit more for
that "upgrade" or option.

Just from whom are you thinking of buying the pre-built computer that
comes with pre-installed software, including Windows, that does not
include the COA sticker either pre-applied to the box or included in a
documentation packet? Are you asking about buying a new or used PC?
 
K

Ken

VanguardLH said:
Pre-built with pre-installed software. That means it was an OEM
license for Windows. Sticker should've been on the case.


Recovery discs. Last time I did this, they charged about $20
(shipping cost). Typically they prefer you to run through their
procedure documented in the manual on how to burn the recovery discs
yourself.


BIOS-locked install media.


BIOS locking only locks the media to a family of models by the maker.
You're not the only one buying that model. They sell LOTS of that
same model. That means the BIOS-locking installation media will work
on ANY qualifying computer. Anyone wanting to pirate a copy of the
software could reuse the same install media.

BIOS locking is by looking at a firmware signature on the motherboard.
That same motherboard can be used in manufacture of many units of that
model and across multiple models and even by different makers. There
is no serial number in the firmware used by BIOS-locked media.
Obviously every duplicated copy of the BIOS-locked media would have no
idea of the serial number in the mobo's firmware. They don't take a
finished computer and then burn the BIOS-locked install media from it.
Imagine how that would slow production, plus if that install media
were ever lost then how could replacement install media ever be
produced?

BIOS locking only looks at the firmware to check the brand and model
will match the install media. This isn't just to restrict with which
computer the install media can be used. This also guarantees the
correct setup image is used on that model. It ensures what you use to
install the software will match the hardware on which the software
gets installed.

In the same way the image in the hidden partition used for restoring
back to the factory-time setup must match the hardware where it gets
used, the BIOS-locked install media also ensures it is matched to the
correct model so its image works with THAT hardware. It's a "this
belongs with that" scheme to ensure both work together.


Correct. A mismmatch between the hardware and software doesn't mean
you actually have a legit license for the software. HP may simply
assume that since you have their hardware and since their hardware
always comes with an OS that you qualify for a copy of their install
media that you buy from them.


You bought it used? If it was new then the OEM'er (HP) should've
slapped the sticker on or inside the case.

Yep, if the previous owner (if you bought it used) had the same
hardware for another computer (by the same maker and within the same
family of models) then the license key is usable to them. Say their
computer died, they bought another one just like it, but it came with
an older OS, like Vista instead of Win7. Their old box had Win7.
They want Win7 on their new computer, so they use the install media
with the old CD key to put Win7 on their new box. They remove the CD
key from their old dead Win7 host to keep with their new upgraded
computer. Then they sell off their old hardware either as-is or they
fix it by, say, putting in a new hard disk to recoup some of the cost
of buying the new replacement PC. Hell, the prior owner might've put
his old computer in a new case to give him more room, like more drive
bays, but forgot to bring the sticker along (he recorded its CD key
and didn't bother to remove the sticker from the old case).

If you buy a used computer, there are lots of reasons why the COA
sticker might not be on its case. You'll have to ask the prior owner
why the sticker is missing along with making sure if the sale included
the software license or not and, if so, why the sticker is missing.
As mentioned, could be the seller is simply selling off his old
software and keeping the software license so you get a used computer
with a polluted hard disk. If it was a retail license then the
absence of the sticker is obvious: the seller kept the license.

If you bought the computer as new, the COA sticker should be on it or
included in a document packet (they didn't stick it on but you can if
you want). Also, a pre-built from HP might've included an old version
of the software but the seller installed a later version. What the
seller got was, say, a pre-built with Vista pre-installed but your
order from the seller was for Windows 7 so the seller removed the old
Vista COA sticker, installed Windows 7 (probably OEM), and should have
either put the Win7 sticker on the box or included it with the
documentation. In this case, when buying through a reseller, the
price to change from the factory-provided OS to the one you specified
in the order with the reseller probably meant you paid a bit more for
that "upgrade" or option.

Just from whom are you thinking of buying the pre-built computer that
comes with pre-installed software, including Windows, that does not
include the COA sticker either pre-applied to the box or included in a
documentation packet? Are you asking about buying a new or used PC?
I bought a used HP laptop computer from an individual who said it had
a problem. My purpose was to have a parts computer, since I owned one
of the same type. Since he sold it without the HD, I did not understand
what benefit it was to remove the sticker. Putting the HD into another
computer would not work. And trying to use the key on the sticker would
not work unless you had a similar computer. He is not alone in doing
this I might add. So I guess it is useful if you have a computer very
close to the one the sticker was on originally, but I have a feeling
that not many who remove the sticker are in this situation.

I know more than when I posted this question, but still do not
understand how useful this sticker removal really is. Thanks.
 
W

...winston

"Stan Brown" wrote in message
It's a moot point, because Microsoft has you going an coming. I could
be wrong but, if I recall correctly, the license is good for the
original purchaser with the original computer. You can't move it to
a different machine that you own, and it doesn't transfer with the
computer if you sell the computer.

Though how the second could be enforced, I don't know.
If referring to the OEM Win7 License Transfer rights which are the same for
Win7 HP, Pro, Ultimate)
"TRANSFER TO A THIRD PARTY. You may transfer the software directly to a
third party only with the licensed computer. The transfer must include the
software and the Certificate of Authenticity label. You may not keep any
copies of the software or any earlier version. Before any permitted
transfer, the other party must agree that this agreement applies to the
transfer and use of the software."

....w
 
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V

VanguardLH

Ken said:
I bought a used HP laptop computer from an individual who said it had
a problem. My purpose was to have a parts computer, since I owned one
of the same type. Since he sold it without the HD, I did not understand
what benefit it was to remove the sticker. Putting the HD into another
computer would not work. And trying to use the key on the sticker would
not work unless you had a similar computer. He is not alone in doing
this I might add. So I guess it is useful if you have a computer very
close to the one the sticker was on originally, but I have a feeling
that not many who remove the sticker are in this situation.

I know more than when I posted this question, but still do not
understand how useful this sticker removal really is. Thanks.
The term "computer" is vague in the EULA. For some sellers, all they
need do for a legit sale is include some computer hardware with the sale
of a used OEM license. Some jokers tried to get away by including a
screw with the OEM software. Most times you see a hard drive included
in the sale of a used (previously authenticated) OEM license. In fact,
I've seen some sellers dumping off broken laptops to included the
mandatory hardware with the sale of the OEM software (i.e., they're
dumping their trash with the sale of the OEM software).

Your friend sold you hardware. He kept the hard drive to carry along
the Windows license to either use in a new computer or to sell off, like
at eBay. eBay warns that certain conditions must be met to sell OEM
software at their site. If it has never been installed then the seller
is a reseller of an unused product. If it was previously installed, the
seller is including the mandatory hardware to satisfy the criteria that
the OEM software be sold with a "computer". A used OEM license is
permanently affixed on the first "computer" on which it is installed, so
the seller merely includes sufficient hardware to meet the "computer"
criteria.

That your friend kept the hard drive and sticker only indicates your
friend *might* intend to keep the license on the old "computer"
consisting of just the hard drive (until placed within a full computer).
The term "computer" has been deliberately lax because a detailed
definition would require pages upon pages to delineate every system and
all its components for every make and model or for all parts in a build
that would then constitute a "computer". They really don't have to be
detailed in the definition of "computer". If Microsoft ever goes to
court, the judge will decide the definition while Microsoft can only
cite case histories. Common sense still prevails in court when
interpreting contracts as it would be impossible to define every term,
especially technological ones, in a contract.

You'll have to ask your friend why he kept the drive and the COA
sticker. Only he knows for sure what he plans to do with that drive and
with the Windows license. It looks like you only got hardware.

If you are going to buy your own Windows license (and media) then you
don't care if the old COA sticker is there or not. In that case, you'll
remove the old sticker and put on the sticker for your license (unless
yours is a retail license in which case you might to leave it off so the
sticker with the CD key follows the license to a new PC).

You got an old PC. The hard drive was removed. The COA sticker is
missing (removed or never applied). Sure looks like the transferrer
(seller) is keeping the Windows license. You as the transferree don't
have the CD/product key (and probably also do not have the install
media) so you can't install whatever license used to be on that PC.
That you did not get the license doesn't dictate whether or not the
seller can still use it or sell it off. What the seller can do legally
with the retained license is not of concern to the hardware-only buyer.
The only concern to the buyer is that they didn't get the license.

An OEM license of Windows becomes permanently affixed to the first PC on
which it is installed. The converse is not true: the hardware is NOT
permanently assigned to that OEM license. You can reuse the hardware
however many times you want. You can deploy the Windows OEM license
only once.

Since your friend had an already deployed instance of the OEM license,
it looks like he kept enough hardware he thinks qualifies as "computer"
to retain usability of the OEM license. Maybe he just doesn't want any
support headaches and doesn't include any software in his sale or
transfer of hardware. Sure, you figure he doesn't owe you any support
but lots of users think sellers are supposed to provide product support.
Try selling software on eBay and you'll realize how many bozos don't
know the requirements for use of the product and come back at you for
support or to return a product that is fully usable but they don't know
how to use it. They expect some support with the sale.
 
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