Is it possible to install Windows using another computer’s recovery disc?

by on October 28, 2008

Q: I bought a Dell laptop off eBay with Windows Me installed. My office-based computer is about to be junked. Can I use the recovery disc from my office’s eMachines PC to install Windows XP onto my Dell laptop?

A: It may be technologically possible to install Windows XP onto your Dell laptop using your office’s eMachines recovery disc; it depends upon both the hardware that is in your Dell and methods, which eMachines used to program the recovery disc.

But legally, neither Microsoft nor Dell nor eMachines would allow you to use one computer’s recovery disc to install Windows on another computer. That is, a recovery disc is only supposed to be used on the computer with which it was sold. Doing otherwise creates a risk for both you and your employer of getting into serious trouble!

It is possible that your Dell was at one time eligible for a free upgrade from Windows Me to Windows XP. But since you are not the laptop’s original owner and it has been many years since the initial release of Windows XP, it is highly unlikely that Dell would willingly provide you with an upgrade of any kind from Windows Me to Windows XP. I therefore recommend that you contact the eBayer from whom you purchased your Dell laptop, to see if he/she ever received an upgrade to Windows XP from Dell for that computer.

All of this leaves you with two options. Your first option is to purchase a retail copy of Windows XP. But this may not be a good option for you because reputable retailers are charging a lot of money for Windows XP, and many of the Windows XP discs available on eBay are fraudulent. Realistically, Linux is the best option you have for successfully installing a modern operating system onto your Dell. Xubuntu is probably the best version of Linux for your Dell (click here).

TIP: Any computer that shipped with Windows Me preinstalled is guaranteed to function poorly or not at all with Windows Vista.