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It's tempting to pirate an older version of Windows to replace an illegal copy of a current version. Unfortunately, it's likely just as illegal.

My copy of Windows XP is not genuine according to the messages I keep getting when I log on. I think it affects setting up Outlook because it asks for info I don't have, such as account name, server names etc.. Is it possible to get a free download of a Windows version like 98 or older while there is a windows xp (not genuine) on my laptop?

There are a few points of confusion here: for example the fact that you can't setup Outlook actually has nothing to do with Windows being genuine or not. The fact that you don't have account and server names is kind of an issue if you're trying to set up an email program like Outlook.

And you can probably guess what I'll say about getting any version of Windows for free.

Just because a newer version of Windows comes along, the older versions aren't suddenly free. Even if you can't purchase those old versions somewhere, that still doesn't make it legal or moral to pirate copies for free.

So, no, there is no way to legally download a copy of Windows for free, be it Windows XP, Vista or older versions like Windows 98.

"Just because a newer version of Windows comes along that doesn't make the old versions suddenly free."

If you want something for free, you'll need to investigate open-source alternatives to Windows like Linux.

You can, of course, also legalize your existing copy of Windows by purchasing a copy.

Now, about your Outlook woes.

When you set up Outlook to use as your email program, you'll need to tell it what mail server to get your email from, and which email server to use to send your email. These are most typically known as the POP3 server for recieving, and the SMTP server for sending. This is information that you would get from whatever service you're using for your email - perhaps your ISP, or whomever is listed after the "@" in your email address.

But...

If you're trying to set up Outlook for a web based email account - say a Windows Live Hotmail or Yahoo account - you may not be able to, at least not easily. As I've discussed in several places, web-based email servers are not inherrently designed to be accessed using a desktop email program like Outlook. Hotmail users can install an "Outlook Connector", GMail users can actually access POP3 directly using Google's instructions, and Yahoo users, to the best of my knowledge, are out of luck unless they sign up for an extra cost unofficial third party service.

So if you're using a web mail service, you may not easily be able to do what you're attempting, at least not without some additional research.

And if you're using a "real" email service, perhaps provided by your ISP, then they should provide you with the server information you need.

And once again, that all has nothing to do with the genuineness of your copy of Windows.

Article C3615 - January 9, 2009 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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7 Comments
Tony Starkey
January 13, 2009 10:41 AM

If you have a legal copy of Windows on your pc, installed by the pc manufacturer, are you free to use the installation disc they provide to install Windows onto a new pc which you may purchased to replace your original when it give up the ghost?

As I understand it, not always. You really need to check the license agreement, but many pre-installed OEM Windows are not transferrable to another machine. Some may be. Now, as to whether or not you do it anyway is a different matter, since it likely will work.
- Leo
14-Jan-2009

Roy Holland
January 13, 2009 2:03 PM

Just an addition to the above statement which is not totally correct! Yes, there IS an alternate to a non genuine copy! With proper paperwork, legitamate bill of sale from a business, Ebay, etc. You CAN get a genuine copy of XP from Microsoft!
As an Example: I, in good faith, bought a sealed box Windows XP Prof. OS on Ebay. When I tried to authenticate it, of course it failed! It was the professional copy type with the hologram disk etc. With a key that was no good!
When it didn't authenticate, I wrote the seller which did not answer any of my several request to correct the situation or refund my money.
Microsoft had a program (at that time, don't know if it is still active or not), to replace any legitimate buyer with a FREE copy of XP! I sent in the required info and a couple weeks my new Microsoft Windows XP Prof. arrived and I am using it mow!
Hopefully, they still have this program.

Kitty Ashenbrenner
January 13, 2009 2:17 PM

The installation disc or recovery disc provided with your computer is only specific to that computer. Why would you want to use the old one anyway? You'll get a new recovery disc or partition with the new computer.

Jack Boyce
January 13, 2009 4:38 PM

Leo:

I am not in agreement with the majority of comments on the question of "can you transfer a copy of the Windows operating system to a new computer when the computer that the Windows operating system was part of is completely retired".

Many of the licensing agreements that I have read states that a given piece of software can be used only on one computer at a time. Some agreements do say that a license is associated with a specific computer. Exactly what this means when a computer is completely retired is not ever spell out (that I'm aware of).

The terminology used in the comments to your article did not include the word "licensing". What is being implied by the statements made, is that one purchased this "a copy of software" - not a "license". The terminology used in the agreements that I have read always refer to purchasing a license but this is not the terminology being used by your commenters. With such diversity in terminology being used in the comments, can any of the answers given in the posts to this article be a straightforward "yes" or "no"?

The point I'm making is that transfer of the function provided by a single Windows operating system disc cannot be answered in any simplistic way. Whether or not one has a "authentic bill of sale" is a moot point. In most cases the transfer of a authentic Windows operating system disc is going to be between two individuals or most likely the transfer will involve a single person discontinuing the use of one computer and putting the operating system on a new computer.

In these cases who is going to check for a bill of sale? If I transfer a copy of Windows from one of my computers to another computer belonging to me and I discontinue the use of Windows on the first computer the answer this question will be nobody.

Is this piracy? I think not. If we purchase and operating system, with a license to an operating system, isn't it reasonable to expect that we should be able to use the operating system If we go back to the idea of transferring software from a non-functioning computer to a functioning computer can be a very complicated issue". Use caution before labeling an activity as being "piracy".

Jack
January 14, 2009 4:14 AM

If someone cannot afford windows , then they should not be pressurized in buying it. I am sure options like ubuntu which is free and really user friendly should be considered.
People forget that there exists a world outside windows!!!

Anonymous
January 19, 2009 10:26 AM

I think that Microsoft wrote the "laws" for its own profit motives and tried to screw the public into purchasing expensive software they can ill afford. Especially now.

I hope Obama liberates us all from these evil conglomerates.

Jethreeen
January 19, 2009 5:31 PM

Why shouldn't older OS'es like Windows '98 be free, since they're no longer "supported" by the company??? It's hardly fair ... I bought and paid for my copy of Windows '95 for $130 only to have it no longer supported after a few years .... People are being held hostage into buying later iterations of the OS just because Microsoft is too cheap to maintain the old ones, therefore they should be free, to be used at the owner's own risk, in my opinion .............

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