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Buying computers with no OS

By steelth ยท 13 replies
Feb 18, 2012
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  1. I was offered several very nice computers to buy with no OS . Hey are HP and have the windows key still on them . what is the cheapest way to put windows on them all?I mean do i have to buy windows for them all again or? thnx for the help
  2. cliffordcooley

    cliffordcooley TS Guardian Fighter Posts: 9,173   +3,263

    If the motherboard has not been replaced the key can still be used for activation. Read the OEM Sticker for the correct windows edition and use the key to activate after installation.
  3. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 7,241   +10

    When the sticker for the key is not pasted to, or sticking on the computer, and the Wndow sversion is an otherwise authorized install, you can often discover the key by running Belarc Advisor (a free download you can find with a gurgle search) This doesn't always work for Windows 7, but nearly always does for Windows XP/
  4. steelth

    steelth TS Booster Topic Starter Posts: 130

    ok, just so i get this right and don't buy a ton of computers for nothing . If the sticker says windows xp and has the key ,ANY oem windows xp disc will work on them all as long as i use the key on the case. sry, but i would hate to buy 20 or so computers i couldn't use.
  5. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 12,535   +2,318

    It's really not that simple. It could be as simple as them not bothering to take the off COA stickers.

    And no, there's no guarantee that "any OEM" Windows disc will work. Windows OEM installations are intended to be "imaged", then slip streamed into a "restore disc", which is an image of the C:/ drive, including the necessary drivers, and "value added" software. Sometimes the "backup" copy of Windows is on the D:/ partition, and a restore disc summons it from there. If the drive has been wiped...well, you get my point.

    If the computers BIOS is, "tatooed", then a regular Windows disc of any flavor won't work.

    Linux if free to download, and it is an OS. So what you're really saying, is you don't want to buy 20 computers that don't come with 20 free copies of Windows.
  6. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,729   +409

    You'll be ok. Although I'm not entirely sure that "ANY" OEM XP disk will work. I think there may be some issues with service packs.

    I believe the way it works is, if those keys are for XP original, without any service packs, they should work on any OEM XP disk (well make sure you got the right home or professional). But if you had a key from a newer SP it won't work on an older SP. Although, I was discussing this with Rick (TS Staff) and he thought that maybe that only applied if you were trying an SP 2 key on a pre-SP1 XP, which shouldn't really be an issue anymore because I doubt you are going to try to install with a disk from 2001.

    Edit: I see that CaptainCranky disagrees.. I think as long as he has an OEM disk of XP and its the right edition (home or pro) it will work (well see above for caveats). Now getting drivers for all of those will certainly be a pain, especially if they are all different models. Because the original setups with restore partitions would have had drivers for the hardware.
  7. steelth

    steelth TS Booster Topic Starter Posts: 130

    well, these are computers that the state is rotating out for new ones, so they wiped the os and they are all the same model.i wasn't sure how that would work out , i have only put together a few and they were all new parts. thank you for your help, looking up drivers "sigh"
  8. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,729   +409

    Well, since they are all the same model, thats a pretty big help. Although, I know from working on some Dell computers, that sometimes (at least with Dell) you can have several different chipsets between the same model number computer (really bad with wireless). Maybe HP doesn't do that and actually keeps everything consistent between the same number. If they do, it should be relatively simple to get them all running.

    You could even slipstream (although not with SP3 I believe) the drivers into your own custom OEM XP disk with nLite.
  9. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 12,535   +2,318

    Well, I can tell you it isn't a slam dunk. We're on the topic of old computers, so I'll tell you how it works with my Emachine T-5026. If you try and put an OEM Windows disc if the machine, it will halt, and ask for an administrative password for the BIOS. Which of course, isn't supplied.

    Not only that, but since the machine is circa 1995, (Intel 915), it has a SATA HDD, which runs as SATA.

    I found that out the other day put putting it in standby, slapping another drive in it, and waking it up, the drive being recognized. IDE, to the best of my knowledge, doesn't work that way, you have to reboot.

    So, we have SATA drivers slip streamed into the restore disc, or so it would seem.

    So, your results my vary. Hopefully they will. It's still not a sure thing.
  10. Leeky

    Leeky TS Evangelist Posts: 3,797   +116

    If they're all the same you could create one recovery disc to cover them all, or one main OS disc, and another with the various drivers required.

    Remember that should they be running SATA disks they will need the driver for Windows XP in order to recognise the hard disk is fitted > Sometimes you can get around this by running the computer in EIDE legacy mode, but its a point worth making all the same.

    If the machines are Dell they will also have service tags on them, which makes hunting for the drivers a doddle through Dell's Support area of their website.

    Its also worth mentioning that Linux will likely run plenty well enough on all of them, without having to worry about the licensing/product key/activation issues, or the varying hardware. So the computers are perfectly usable as long as you need all of them.
  11. steelth

    steelth TS Booster Topic Starter Posts: 130

    Ok, i got them all "9" and they all have Windows Vista business keys, so i'm going to buy a windows vista Business CD , and run them .I also bought 2 others with no OS that had xp home edition , i used my xp home edition and added their keys , i also took a couple hours to input drivers and now they work like new thx.
  12. vectorsigma32

    vectorsigma32 TS Rookie Posts: 154

    lol it like a del i got for a song came with xp pro and vista biz keys reinstalled xp pro and it mint
  13. steelth

    steelth TS Booster Topic Starter Posts: 130

    i was wrong 9 have vista business keys, and 3 have xp home edition keys, I had an xp home edition oem . Put the xp in the 3 and they work great , but i ordered a vista business ,only to realize they say vista business oemact ,,,,I never seen one that says oemact ,,is there a difference.
  14. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 7,241   +10

    Because the product key is still on them, you can use an OEM disk of Windows XP Home, and enter the key for each machine when it is asked for. It will work fine.
    There may be some problems with driver downloads from HP, so check to see what is offered.
    We do this all the time in the shop with nary a problem. Just be sure the OEM Windows disk is Service Pack 2 or Service Pack 3... Service Pack 1 disks can be squirrely as to which ones will work and which will not.

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