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Transferring Programs to a New PC

by lphighlander / August 15, 2006 11:51 PM PDT

Let's assume that I have purchased a new, brand-name type PC. Let's assume I wish to use the higher capacity hard drive which comes with it, not my old PC's hard drive. The new PC comes with the same MS Windows XP and many of the same MS Windows applications (such as MS Office-Home ed., Media Player) which are on my old computer. To transfer my personal files/documents is easy enough.

But is it possible to transfer all the other programs which are on my first PC (e.g., ITunes,AdAware,Symantec Security suite, get the picture) to the new one all at once? I am trying to avoid having to install all the other non-MS pre-loaded programs from installation CDs or downloading the install files from the internet. In addition, after having made settings adjustments to all these programs, I would simply like to "migrate" them all over, settings intact, to the new PC.

Is this possible and, in basic terms, how?
Thanks for any recommendations.

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In the basic term... No. And about Limeware.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / August 16, 2006 12:28 AM PDT

Microsoft designed such moves to be difficult to IMPOSSIBLE.

Let me share that Office 2003 has a similar activation scheme like Windows XP. Even if you were successful in moving every file and registry entry, Office would detect the hardware change and want you to activate. Since it was already activated or an OEM version you find it won't move.

Microsoft and other software makers have this in place so the best advice is to install the programs from the CD.

Limeware is causing posts in these forums that people discover extensive damage to the operating system which has resulted in total wipeouts. I'd start putting some distance between that and any PC.


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A little further elucidation?
by lphighlander / August 17, 2006 5:08 AM PDT

Thanks for your prompt response. Basically, I suspected that "migrating" programs was not possible, but I needed a wiser head than mine to tell me for sure. (Sorry to have raised the spectre of Limewire - I now see that this is a pretty hot issue here in the CNET forums).

Let me take my original question a bit further: If Windows XP and MS applications detect new hardware requiring new activation, what specific hardware triggers the detection? Is it the detection of the new processor in the motherboard or the detection of the transfer of the programs to the hard drive itself only? That is, would the detection of new hardware still be triggered by Windows if I swapped out the new PC's hard drive with my old hard drive first before initial start up? If not, I could simply add a new external USB hard drive to the new PC to provide the additional storage needed. Or not?


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Reply to: A little further elucidation?
by John.Wilkinson / August 17, 2006 5:55 AM PDT

* "If Windows XP and MS applications detect new hardware requiring new activation, what specific hardware triggers the detection?"

When dealing with a retail copy of Windows XP a major change such as motherboard or processor would trigger it. Also, if you perform enough small changes, such as video card, sound card, optical drives, etc, it could do the same thing. There's no chart available, though, of exactly what you can get away with.

OEM versions are even more uncertain, however, since the manufacturer can add even stricter limitations. For instance, the manufacturer could lock the OS to the exact hard drive (based on the make/model and serial number) it is on, meaning if it fails you must purchase a new drive and a fresh copy of Windows. It's not very often that they're that strict, but it does happen.
* "That is, would the detection of new hardware still be triggered by Windows if I swapped out the new PC's hard drive with my old hard drive first before initial start up?"

Yes. Windows would detect the new hardware on boot. In this case it doesn't matter if the new computer has been booted up previously or not.
* "I could simply add a new external USB hard drive to the new PC to provide the additional storage needed."

Correct. That shouldn't affect the license to Windows or any software installed. It's just a Mass Storage Device, so it's the same as inserting a flash drive.
In short, transplanting a hard drive, with Windows XP installed, from one computer to another will rarely work and is best not attempted.

When it comes to retail software you can, in most cases, transfer the license for the software from one computer to another. just uninstall it from the original and try installing it on the new computer. If it fails, contact the manufacturer and explain what you're doing...they should take care of the rest.

OEM software, on the other hand, is locked to the computer it was first installed on...the license cannot be transferred to another computer.
Now, you could try using a program like Aloha Bob PC Relocator, but the success rate is far from 100% since some, like Microsoft Office, are designed to fail when moved. Thus, the best solution is to just go through the installation process again and limit the potential issues.

One other thing you should look into is the Files and Settings Transfer Wizard, which can make the move a lot simpler.

Hope this helps,

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Microsoft writes about their system.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / August 17, 2006 6:13 AM PDT

" For security reasons, Microsoft won't say what exactly triggers the reactivation. "
Many articles note this so any pundit that declares what it is, is guessing most of the way.

Read How does product activation determine tolerance? In other words, how many components of the PC must change before I am required to reactivate? at

As to the hard disk question, I'll write no. According to the Microsoft article, that item alone is not enough.


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