I've got CS4 faculty/student edition on a Dell laptop that's taken some pretty severe hits, It still works if I don't close the cover (hinge damage), but there are also signs of malware here and there. I'm retired faculty now (not emeritus) and cannot afford a commercial upgrade; I could barely afford the discounted version.
I'm either going to get a new machine, or at least restore the system to factory defaults. To cover the possibilities and help me decide which path to choose, I have some questions.
1) I gather I can activate and then reactivate on the same or different machine. Is this accurate? Does it use up an activation?
2) I've just started to play with Vista's "Windows Easy Transfer". It appears to be copying executables. Does it also copy an activation? (If so I'd probably use it if I'm just refreshing the OS).
3) What should I have asked or worried about that I neglected to mention?
Best option for you is to de-activate CS4 from your old laptop and re-install it(using the discs) on new machine and then serialize it with your CS4 serial key and you are good to go.
Simply launch any CS4 application and it will get activated automatically.
2) I've just started to play with Vista's "Windows Easy Transfer".
No. It doesn't transfer what it doesn't know and that are the invisible parts of the activation system. As the others already said, properly deactivate and then install from scratch and activate on the new system.