Can we re-install an OEM Windows Desktop Operating System license on a PC when we refurbish it?

I received the following question over the weekend calling out the fact that although I have covered OEM Windows licensing, transfer rights, etc. on the Blog, apparently I have not directly answered the question of reloading an OEM Windows license on a refurbished PC:

“I didn’t find anything on licensing rights for surplused OEM equipment (Dell XP Machines, for example) on your blog or (the online groups). The PCs have to be wiped. At that point can they be reimaged with the original OEM Dell Recovery Disk? “

First, let’s start with the basics on when you need a new Windows OEM license when upgrading a refurbished PC. I covered this topic earlier on the Blog in this post: When upgrading a PC, when do I need a new OEM Windows license?

Assuming your refurbishments do not require a new OEM Windows Desktop Operating System license (i.e. you do not replace the motherboard outside of warranty), then the question posed above is, can you reload the OEM Windows license that originally came with the PC you refurbished? Here is the answer, as copied from the email response I sent to the inquirer who sent me the question:

The original OEM Windows licenses that ships with the PC is bound to that PC. So, if you buy a Dell PC with an OEM Windows license, that OEM Windows license stays with that PC. If you sell the PC, you have sold the OEM Windows license with it. If you donate the PC, you donate the OEM Windows license with it. If you burn and destroy the PC, you burn and destroy the OEM Windows license with it. So just because you wipe the information clean off the hard drive before transferring the PC, it doesn’t change the fact that the OEM Windows license stays with it. Because of this, yes, you certainly can reload the original OEM Dell Windows CD back onto the PC since the OEM Windows license is tied to it anyway. Just be sure that when you transfer the PC to the new owner that you also transfer all of the OEM Proof of license components with it as well.

Thank you and have a wonderful day,

Eric Ligman
Microsoft US Senior Manager
Small Business Community Engagement
This posting is provided “AS IS” with no warranties, and confers no rights