Do you have OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer - Dell, HP, Toshiba, etc...) recovery DVDs or full retail version of Vista?
If OEM, it can only be used with the system it came with. If full retail, you can install away, but 1 system - 1 product key code. You can install Vista full retail for a "test period" of 30 days on any system without entering product key code.
These days almost all computers sold in retail stores come with Vista pre-installed. That would be an OEM copy (HP, Sony, etc...). There is no difference between the full retail and OEM versions, just that the OEM includes drivers on the DVD.
EDIT: you can borrow a full retail Vista DVD from someone and use that to install Vista, but you must have your own product key code.
If you have a DVD fom e.g. Ultimate Retail, you can use that disk to install Ultimate on another system-that you lost the installation media-but of course you must use a new Serial No (the one that exists on the COA)
OEM versions usually do not require a serial-if installed on a system board from that manufacturer (DELL to DELL and so on)
If full retail version of Vista, you can install it & the product key code onto another system - as long as the one it was installed on is no longer "live".
I would not recommend using an OEM version of Vista on any system other than the one it came pre-installed on. I have seen problems surface weeks/ months later. I don't recall if the OEM was the same, though.
The retail version installs on different systems I have done myself - used the same product key code on a different system after the other system was inactive. Also, a retail version of Vista contains ALL versions. It is the key code that dictates whether Home Premium, Ultimate, etc... will be activated and then validated. If you install Ultimate on top of Home Premium w/ the H-P key, it considers it to be an upgrade that you will have to pay for at a later time when it asks for the newer versions' key code.
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