Dell COA

  Ian in Northampton 08:19 11 May 11

I just got myself a rather nice Dell Dimension 9200 secondhand. The seller installed Vista (having previously wiped it) and the box has a Dell Vista COA key. However, I'm no big Vista fan. Strangely - but nicely - the seller also supplied a Dell XP SP3 CD with the system. I'd like to install this - but I'm concerned that I don't have a Dell XP SP3 COA. I've read somewhere that, if you install a Dell-manufactured operating system on a Dell PC, you don't actually need the COA. Can anyone confirm/deny?

  BurrWalnut 09:12 11 May 11

If you have a pre-installed version of Windows from a large manufacturer, your Product Key is the same as that on every other computer of the same model and does not need activating. It is not the same as the key on the COA case sticker.

SLP (System Locked Pre-installation) keys are issued to the large manufacturers, e.g. Dell and don’t need activation.

  Ian in Northampton 09:17 11 May 11

Thanks BurrWalnut. So, just to check that I understand what you're saying - I should be able to go ahead and do what I want, which is to replace the Vista installation with an XP install, and not worry about not having the COA/product key for XP?

  BurrWalnut 09:25 11 May 11

Yes, providing the XP CD is labelled as per your Dell 9200.

  Ian in Northampton 09:30 11 May 11

Thanks again BurrWalnut. That may be an issue - I'll need to check it out. I think the seller may have just included a random Dell XP CD...

  robin_x 10:05 11 May 11

Can you recover back to Vista if the XP doesn't work?

Make a System Image with boot CD first if not and verify/validate it. Or set up a dual boot.

Disk Imaging

  lotvic 10:24 11 May 11

Dell-manufactured operating system on a Dell PC, you don't actually need the COA

I confirm that that is how mine works, doesn't ask for a key if you use the Dell CD as it is pre-programmed in the Dell install. I believe it has to go on a Dell motherboard or won't work.

If you have a spare Harddrive it would be wise to try it out on that instead of wiping Vista. If no spare Harddrive then make a System Image as per robinofloxley said, so that you can put Vista back on.

  Ian in Northampton 10:48 11 May 11

Many thanks guys. Your help is much appreciated. Dual boot may well be a good idea, as I don't think there's any other way of recovering the Vista installation if the XP installation doesn't work.

  Ian in Northampton 13:26 14 May 11

Just to finish this story... For no very good reason (because I don't ever see myself using Vista) except that it was a challenge, and something I hadn't tried before, I decided I'd make it dual-boot. The Dell XP CD didn't appear to be tied to the Dimension 9200 in any way. However. I repartitioned the hard drive using the tools available in Vista, then booted no problem from the XP CD and installed XP. It didn't ask me for a product key or anything. Then, the cool bit was a piece of free software I downloaded called VistaBootPro which, after about two minutes, restored the Vista boot (the XP boot file had overwritten it) - and now when I boot, I have a choice... :-)

That said: two small niggles - not sure if anyone can help. One is that I'd like the default OS to be XP: as it stands, if I don't make a choice, the PC boots into Vista. Second is, the alternative to Vista in the new boot menu is described as 'earlier Windows operating system'. It would be nice if I could change that to 'Windows XP.

  robin_x 13:34 14 May 11

I only learnt recently that Dell OEM discs automatically sort out the licence, so that's must be why that was OK.

EasyBCD allows you to edit the boot menu, be careful.;1

  robin_x 13:35 14 May 11

This thread is now locked and can not be replied to.

Should I upgrade to Windows 10? Why upgrade to Windows 10? Is Windows 10 good? The pros and cons of!…

1995-2015: How technology has changed the world in 20 years

Illustrator Rachel Lillie discusses how she draws, and the beauty of quietness

macOS Sierra vs Windows 10 comparison: Apple and Microsoft's latest OS releases go head to head |…