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New OS With New Motherboard?

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If you replaced it with the same make and model of motherboard there would be no issue as Windows would just carry on working as the hardware is the same.

However as you rightly point out, if a motherboard dies 4 years on (not wishing it on you!) it is very unlikely that same model will be available. In fact chances are you would struggle to get *any* motherboard that was compatible with your CPU and memory.

So then you go through the process of changing the guts of the machine. The difference is here you are forced to upgrade because your motherboard has failed. You have not chosen to upgrade because you fancied a new motherboard with new features.

Nobody would reasonably expect you to scour eBay for weeks looking for a motherboard of the same era as your original. Sure, you may have to re-install Windows XP when you get that new board, CPU, memory, etc in, and chances are the hardware will be so different that it will not automatically re-activate and you will have to phone up for an activation code. One of the questions this automated process asks is 'Have you changed your motherboard?' and if you say yes, you then get a choice of 'Was this to replace a faulty motherboard, or for another reason?' - I wouldn't lose any sleep.

Another option of course is that after four years the chances are there is a newer version of Windows out. If you're the kind of person who likes to upgrade then purchasing a new motherboard would give you the ideal excuse to legitimately purchase a shiny new OEM copy of Windows Vista.

I'm not saying you *should* upgrade to Vista if you get a new motherboard, don't get me wrong. I'm just saying that some people would. I have no interest in starting a 'I don't like Vista' or 'MS are rubbish, get Linux' debate!