Will I be able to reinstall Windows 11 again if I format my hard drive of my laptop which came pre-installed with Windows 11?

I want to install Fedora on my laptop which came pre-installed with Windows 11. However, I want to be able to use Windows 11 in case online exams make a return as most online proctoring services do not support Linux. I do not want to pay Microsoft again for an expensive license in that circumstance. Will I be able to reinstall Windows 11 from my recovery partition of my Dell Laptop after I format my hard drive and run Fedora? Is there a way to obtain a license key for Windows 11 that came preinstalled with my laptop so that I can activate it again whenever I want?

If you format the entire thing with Fedora, then the HDD or SSD you install the software on will remove everything.
My best recommendation is to dual boot.
When installing, it should give you that option.
I would also back up everything on to a separate drive incase.

But even if you uninstalled Windows 11, licensing might not be something to worry about.
Usually, Windows now days uses hardware to detect the change in parts (hence new computer and new license), but if that dosent work, if the key you already used with the laptop is associated with your account (since you need to sign in via internet connection for installation) then you are most likely fine.

But if needed, keep on Windows 11 until then if its really needed or buy a second device (as unrealistic as it sounds). Your best bet is to just dual boot from the same hardware.

You’ll need to download the Windows installer from Microsoft and flash it to something, but yes, your license should remain valid (I’ve done this with 10 without issue). There should be some ‘certificate of authenticity’ that came on your machine or you should’ve received a card, either one with your key; but it should just recognize it when you go to install anyway.

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Short answer: yes

Long answer: I was unable to before I installed Ubuntu. For some reason Windows didn’t to install on a drive that

  1. Has been “reset” by the Windows built in CLI tool
  2. Has been dd if=/dev/zero
  3. Has been mkfs.ntfs
    So it might take one weird Ubuntu installation to work. And I don’t understand why until today.

May I suggest using KVM and use Windows in it when required? GUI Apps for that would be Gnome Boxes or Virt-Manager.


For something that may be relatively short-lived like using Windows to take exams, I think a VM may be a great option like @Dom0 said. I imagine the test won’t require that much performance, so any lag you experience in the Windows VM may be liveable for just that period.

At the same time, I know that exam software can be finicky and if something closes then the exam terminates or something like that. A VM should still be perfectly stable, but that’s another factor to consider maybe?

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I initially planned on dual booting, but encountered enough discouragement to understand it to be bad idea and cancel it.

Proctoring services are likely to freak out if they find me running Windows inside a VM.

I don’t understand your reply. Did Windows only recognize your device to have a valid license after you ran Ubuntu on it once?

No, the good old “missing drivers” problem.
While Linux is like “ohhh this drive has a filesystem on it, let’s do something with it, even if I have no idea what it is”, Windows is like “oh it is a drive that is not 100% as I expect it to be? Unusable, I will abort installation”.

Windows sucks.


lol, I just realized why running a VM for a test would be a big problem. My bad.

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