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Can Windows SBS 2011 be reactivated after a rebuild

Posted on 2014-03-01
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Last Modified: 2014-03-06
If I have a hardware fail, say a hard disc goes down and my only option is a rebuild can I reactivate the software with the same key again? In reality I would recover from my backups but I'm just wondering what would happen in the worst case of a hardware fail and a backup fail.
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Question by:ClintonK
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by:rindi
rindi earned 72 total points
ID: 39897806
Sure. The only situation where re-activation might not work is if you have an OEM version of the OS and have changed the hardware.
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by:ClintonK
ID: 39897815
Yes, I do have an OEM version of the software.
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by:ClintonK
ID: 39897817
the other scenario I was thinking of was is if I activate the software and then discover that it's not how I want it configured, I'd like to be able to start again and rebuild.
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by:pgm554
pgm554 earned 72 total points
ID: 39897837
only some versions of OEM software might not activate(Dell,HP) because they are keyed to the BIOS of the OEM system.

With that being said ,moving to other hardware would put you in breach of the license agreement.

You save a few bucks ,but retail always makes more sense in the long run.
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by:David Johnson, CD, MVP
David Johnson, CD, MVP earned 143 total points
ID: 39897859
unfortunately with OEM software you are left to the whims of the OEM partner.  Which in many cases leaves you with a recovery partition and you can only restore from the recovery partition and you will be back to the exact oobe that you started with. You are also limited in your support options, Microsoft does not support OEM software the OEM is responsible for providing support.
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by:rindi
ID: 39897879
On the same hardware you can activate it as many times as you want, although sometimes you may have to use the telephone activation. Besides, If I'm not mistaken, you can install the OS without inputing the key right away. If you don't enter the key, it'll just run in trial mode until you do.
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by:pgm554
ID: 39897917
I think on 2011 .it does not install without the key.

Just did one a few weeks ago and kind if remember having to find the key .
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by:Lee W, MVP
Lee W, MVP earned 71 total points
ID: 39898284
OEM copies dies with the hardware but there is a certain level of flexibility - in the event of a hardware failure of the motherboard, re-activation should be fine PROVIDED you replace the motherboard with the SAME board model that failed.  Hard drives fail and the license is NOT tied to the hard drive.
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by:Jeffrey Kane - TechSoEasy
Jeffrey Kane - TechSoEasy earned 71 total points
ID: 39898430
If you restore following the official documented method, you will have THREE DAYS to reactivate the server license.  

If you actually do a full rebuild, then you have the typical 30-day activation period.

As Rindi mentioned above, you can rebuild your server on the same hardware unlimited number of times and keep reactivating it -- no problem.  The only issue is as Lee described -- if you have a motherboard failure you need to replace it with identical parts from the OEM.  Some OEMs (such as Dell) do hardware activation of Windows - - meaning that the software doesn't go out to Microsoft to activate, but rather it just checks an embedded code on the motherboard.  So as long as you keep the right parts, it will just keep installing as many times as you like.
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by:ClintonK
ID: 39898443
One of my clients has bought a used (2 year old) Dell SBS 2008 server and has purchased an OEM version of SBS 2011 to maximise the life of the system before Microsoft pull the plug. They have taken out a Dell hardware support contract but from what we're saying here, that may not help them. If the motherboard fails and Dell replace it then it's not guaranteed it will be the same version and therefore the software won't be licenced. It seems a little harsh that if a major server component fails the server's life is over because the software cannot be reinstalled. Surely this can't be right can it?
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by:Cliff Galiher
Cliff Galiher earned 71 total points
ID: 39898450
The fact that they bought SBS 2011 (even OEM) for a machine that was already licensed for a different version means they'll be out of compliant even BEFORE a major parts failure. They may not even get it to activate... but if they do it'd still be illegal.

Major vendors like Dell that offer warranty contracts and sell OEM software with those machines will ensure to have proper parts on hand to handle warranty replacements and keep the system in compliance both technically and legally. When you start cutting corners by buying used hardware and OEM software separately (not attached to the hardware by the actual OEM) then you are going against licensing and yes, you can end up stuck. Or sued. Or both.
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by:rindi
ID: 39898453
With OEM reactivation it also depends a little on where you live. In the America's you can't reactivate on different hardware, but in many European countries reactivation could work (but you'd probably need to reactivate by phone, and it can also depend on the person you reach at m$ at the time you want to reactivate).

The reason m$ wants to tie you to the hardware with OEM versions is that OEM is cheaper than the normal retail version.
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by:Jeffrey Kane - TechSoEasy
ID: 39898454
It seems a little harsh that if a major server component fails the server's life is over because the software cannot be reinstalled. Surely this can't be right can it?

You are correct, it's not right.  Because I would never have a production server in place without it being under warranty.  And if a major part fails while the server is under warranty then that part is replaced and life goes on.

To be clear...
If the motherboard fails and Dell replace it then it's not guaranteed it will be the same version and therefore the software won't be licenced.

If you have an OEM version of SBS 2008 from Dell -- you won't encounter this scenario because they will provide you with a replacement part that complies to their OEM version of the server software.

But that server you are referring to is an SBS 2008 -- if you want to run SBS 2011 on that same box, you would have had to buy a RETAIL or VOLUME LICENSE version of SBS 2011 -- unfortunately you cannot get the volume license one anymore and retail versions are hard to come by.  For sure, you cannot use an OEM license on that box because you didn't build the server yourself -- Dell did.
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by:ClintonK
ID: 39898768
If the copy of SBS2011 is a legal OEM copy and I install it on hardware then surely that can't be illegal? Just because the server has Dell or HP written on it, it's still just a server and if I perform a full clean install and have hardware support from a 3rd party company I would have thought I comply with the licencing. The software says "Only distributed with a fully assembled computer system" which it will be. The SBS 2008 software that was on the server in its previous life will be deleted and won't be reused so there is no breach of licence agreement there.
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by:Cliff Galiher
ID: 39898777
"Only distributed with a fully assembled computer system"

No matter how you try to slice it, that OEM copy was not originally bundled with that Dell server by Dell. Thus the quote above alone proves it is not legal.

OEM licensing is very clear on this. There is no wiggle room. OEM stands for "original equipment MANUFACTURER" (emphasis mine.) You are not the manufacturer, thus you have no legal way to claim that the system was "distributed" together, even if you deliver it to your client pre-installed.

So yes it surely can (AND IS) illegal to do what you propose.
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by:pgm554
ID: 39898790
M$ has over the years given a wiggle here and there.

To be able to buy an OEM copy at one point only required the purchase of a MOBO or hard disk.

They were more worried about moving product than strict compliance to the licensing terms (which at times was as stupid as it could get).

Anybody remember the Office 2013 licensing stupidity they tried to pull a year or two ago?

I mean your system get stolen or damaged beyond repair,and you could not reinstall Office?

I have never really trusted the way they do business.

They have a long and sordid history of trying to screw users and OEM's.
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by:rindi
ID: 39898823
As I mentioned earlier it depends on where you live, in many European countries there is no problem with installing OEM software on whatever hardware you like, and you can also re-activate it on other hardware most of the time.

A couple of years back there was a court case about this, and as far as I know, that case hasn't been solved yet, and until it is, the general consensus is that it is allowed, so m$ will mostly allow activation, at least in most of the European Community and some further countries like Switzerland. Or they (m$) even lost the case.
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by:Jeffrey Kane - TechSoEasy
ID: 39898861
Some of you can try to rationalize this, or bash Microsoft for whatever reasons you can think of --- I have always felt that if you behave this way towards the people you do business with, then you should probably expect your customers to behave the same towards you, and I doubt you want that.

@ClintonK -- you have made some very broad assumptions about how it "should be" without ever actually reading the terms of what an OEM license requires.  
The software says "Only distributed with a fully assembled computer system" which it will be.
Obviously the license is not just a single line of text written on the outside of the DVD sleeve -- there is significantly more to the license text.  But this stuff is NOT complicated and is, in fact, very clearly stated:  http://oem.microsoft.com/public/worldwide/licensing/opccomm_retail_and_coem.pdf

Microsoft has allowed fairly liberal purchase of OEM licenses in order to allow small companies to compete with the likes of Dell and HP.  Nobody on earth has a "right" to use a product created by someone else without purchasing it -- and sometimes those transactions come with conditions -- if you don't like the conditions of the transaction, then you shouldn't enter into it because otherwise when you decide to breach the terms of the original transaction you made you become a criminal, whether you are charged as one or not.

So, just accept the fact that if you lie, cheat or steal to get the things you are using to run your business you shouldn't be upset when your customers do the same to you.  I know that as a tech consultant, if I permit one of my clients to illegally use software, then I can expect that same client to try and cheat me whenever they get the chance.

Jeff
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by:pgm554
ID: 39898877
Well,sometimes you have to push back.

After the monopoly trial, MS was so worried about their reputation as crooks and cheaters ,they were sending out surveys to us resellers as to how they could change this perception.

I mean questions like,do you believe MS is a trustworthy company to do business with?

What can they do to change that perception?

If they don't respect the reseller,end user or developer,then why would they expect reciprocity in turn?

It's a two way street and a balance needs to be maintained.
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by:Cliff Galiher
ID: 39898921
This conversation could go back and forth indefinitely. And while it would be interesting to debate appropriate vs. inappropriate ways of handling vendors you feel are abusing their power and what place courts of law have and what place software piracy or breech of contract (by way of license agreement) has, all of it is not central to the original question.

As it stands, there IS a contract with OEM software. Using it as proposed, installing it on an existing piece of Dell hardware, is against the contract. And so by law (until overturned) and by Experts Exchange policies of providing advice ONLY in adherence of lawful use, the ONLY appropriate response is that the software cannot be installed as proposed.

Any technical discussion regarding bypassing activation, or whether you can "get away" with activating illegally used software becomes moot, as it is against EE policy. Let the debate and justification end there.
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by:pgm554
ID: 39898948
Not talking about bypassing,but unless folks speak up loud and clear,MS will try and get away with as much as possible at the expense of the public.

Office 2013 ,Vista and Windows 7 had fairly draconian initial EULA's until the public pushed back.
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by:Jeffrey Kane - TechSoEasy
ID: 39899005
Companies are in business to sell products, so the way to push back is to not use their products at all.
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by:pgm554
ID: 39899024
A lot of the bad EULA's were nipped in the bud by resellers and user groups.

I remember when Vista was going to ship,the EULA activation for RETAIL maxed at 3 times( I believe) and you couldn't move it to another machine (unlike XP).
Sound familiar? (Office 2013).

We were at the M$ offices in San Francisco and the feedback was vicious from the reseller / user group.

A few weeks later, the  EULA  clause was removed.

Now if only they'd listened to us on the GUI on W8.
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David Johnson, CD, MVP earned 143 total points
ID: 39899266
If the copy of SBS2011 is a legal OEM copy and I install it on hardware then surely that can't be illegal?  Just because the server has Dell or HP written on it, it's still just a server and if I perform a full clean install and have hardware support from a 3rd party company I would have thought I comply with the licensing. The software says "Only distributed with a fully assembled computer system" which it will be. The SBS 2008 software that was on the server in its previous life will be deleted and won't be reused so there is no breach of license agreement there.

OEM software lives and dies on the machine that it was originally activated on.  If you want transfer rights then you buy the Retail package (or higher).  System Builder OEM packages are to be sold from you to the final customer then regular OEM licensing rules apply. You can plead your case with Microsoft and usually win if the motherboard dies and you replace the motherboard with the same make and model. One usually buys System Builder licenses in packs of 10 and only 1 copy of the media.
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Author Comment

by:ClintonK
ID: 39906806
Thanks everyone for their input, views and facts on the licencing of OEM software. My original question was never an attempt to work around or avoid the correct licencing, it was a lack of understanding of the rules. With the information supplied and my better understanding I shall re-think my approach to upgrades for my clients. I shall post that question separately.
I'm not sure I can award points for the responses (unless anyone objects) as they're all valid  so not sure how to close this post down.
Suggestions welcome.
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Author Closing Comment

by:ClintonK
ID: 39908732
Thanks for all the input and comments.
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