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Windows 7: Activate OEM license on a clean install?

03 Aug 2010   #1

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 64 Bit Home Premium SP1
Activate OEM license on a clean install?

My wife wants to buy a laptop (oh joy - another PC to maintain!)

The thing I despise about laptops is the Bloatware. Even after uninstalling as much crapware and trialware you can find there is still gigabytes of useless data left over.
And I can't remember the last time I've ever seen OS media come with a computer.

So I'm wondering if, after creating the "Recovery Disks" and doing a disk image of the drive out of the box, I could wipe the hard drive and install W7 clean using the OEM key (usually on a sticker on the bottom of the laptop) to activate.

This would be using an upgrade version of W7 media. But the idea is to re-activate the OEM license, not another instance of my upgrade license.
(Please note that I know how to "Clean Install W7 from Upgrade Media").

Would this work?
And, is this a legal, socially acceptable way to get a new, clean system on a new laptop?

My System SpecsSystem Spec
03 Aug 2010   #2

Windows 7 Ultimate x64

Yes, that method should indeed work. With many manufacturers, if you call them and complain they will often resort to sending you the install media. However, they do get kickbacks from the bloatware vendors and hence the reason they can afford to lower their prices and save you some cash.

With my wife's HP though, I simply went through Add/Remove Programs and deleted everything I deemed unnecessary. In all honesty, I don't see that much still around and the hard drive is big enough that I don't care about a little lost space and the box has been running trouble-free for about 18 months now. So, I don't in any way regret not starting that machine from scratch. So, might just be something to think about.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
03 Aug 2010   #3
Mark Phelps

Win7 Pro 32-bit, Win8 Pro 32-bit

I've done just what you propose several times without problems.

However, you should look around your hard drive for a folder containing the Win7 drivers before you wipe the drive. OEMs often put their drivers in a single folder in the root of the OS drive. If you find them, that will make installing the drivers with a fresh install that much easier.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

03 Aug 2010   #4

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Windows 7 64 Bit Home Premium SP1

Thank you gentlemen for the confirmation and tips. Every bit of info helps!

I understand what you say about not worrying about any small leftovers after uninstalling. And I may go that route just to make my life easier, or wait for the warranty period to end first.

But interestingly, I just finished doing a W7 clean install upgrade from Vista on my daughter's Compaq laptop. Her C: Drive, bloatware removed long ago, containing OS and Progs only, measured 65GB used before the install. After the install: 22GB. Same collection of Progs. Gaining 40GB of space and an upgraded OS to boot, not to shabby.

Maybe there was some unholy page file or system restore size setting, or some hidden programs, I don't know. But the rig runs great, boots faster, and WEI went up one tenth of a point!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
03 Aug 2010   #5


Many tech enthusiasts find a clean-copy DVD of their OS version and reinstall using the OEM Product Key on the COA sticker on machine. Any installer can also have all versions unlocked using the ei.cfg removal tool.

Make your Recovery DIsks or save a Win7 backup image of the entire HD first so you have a path back if you want to sell or gift the machine but keep your Win7.

The installer is mostly driver-complete, with newer arriving quickly via optional Windows Updates. Any drivers then missing in Device Manager can be found on the Support Downloads webpage for your model computer or device.

Install programs slowly over time to gauge performance after each. Don't let any programs write themselves into msconfig>Startup as they become freeloaders on your RAM/CPU and can spy on you. I only allow AV and gadgets.

Use a lightweight free AV like MS Security Essentials which works perfectly with Windows 7 Firewall.

When it is finished, clean and order the HD perfectly using state-of-the-art free CCleaner then Auslogics Disk and Registry defraggers monthly.

Then save a Win7 Backup image externally so you never have to reinstall again, just reimage the HD or replacement using DVD or Repair CD.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
03 Aug 2010   #6

Windows 7 Professional SP1 64-bit

I can't honestly say I read everything in this thread but here's my two cents.

I just decided to do a reinstall in hopes of fixing a BSOD problem (looks like it was actually caused by a couple bios settings I changed) and I used the tutorials on how to make a universal install disc and how to optimize the HDD for reinstall. After doing both things and restoring defaults in the bios, I think the computer runs faster than it has with past reinstalls (never a true clean 7 install) and 4 out of 5 of the WEI scores went up by 0.1 (scores had been the same since May 2009). After doing some more reading it looks like you can use an OEM key with a retail version of 7, as long as its on the same PC the key came with. I would keep a backup of the original install on a disc or external HD in case you need to make a warranty claim.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Activate OEM license on a clean install?

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