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Windows 7: Trouble activating after clean install on new HDD

18 Apr 2011   #1

Windows 7 Home Premium x64
Trouble activating after clean install on new HDD

To begin, I have a Sony VAIO notebook that came with Windows 7 Home Premium (x64) pre-installed. I purchased the machine during late December 2009. It did not come with any recovery media, nor did I make any of the suggested recovery disks either. All that I supposedly had was the recovery partition on the HDD.

About a week and a half ago, my HDD (one that originally came with the machine) crashed (clicking, etc) to the point I couldn't even boot in safe mode. Couldn't access the recovery partition either. Even tried booting Ubuntu from the DVD drive (which of course worked) but it was unable to "see" my HDD. Now I'm not an expert, but I know that the clicking sound alone means it's time to replace the HDD. So that's what I set out to do... Got a WD Scorpio Blue 320 GB for a rather good price. Install went swimmingly, and now it was time to do the OS re-install.

So rather than call up Sony and have them charge me $30-$40 to send me the recovery DVD, I downloaded a ISO of the Retail Windows 7 Home Premium x64 from Digital River on a separate (fiancee's) machine and used ImgBurn to burn the ISO image onto a DVD. I then used the DVD I created to install Windows 7 to my new HDD. I figured I would be able to use the Product Key from the bottom of my machine (COA) to activate. Knowing that I would need to activate over the phone, I left the product key box blank and "internet" checkbox unchecked during the install. The install worked as it should, and I proceeded to do the phone activation using the "slui 4" method and the COA key from the bottom of my machine.That's where the problems start...

So I go through the whole automated process and (as usually the case) it wouldn't activate. So I wait and they route me to a live person. Oddly, they had me close down the window that opens with "slui 4" and open the "change my key" window (right click computer, properties, etc). They then directed me to change the key to the one I told them I have (from the bottom of machine). It didn't work. Says the key is not a valid activation key. Told the rep my situation (HDD replacement) and he also tried validating the product key on his end, but to no avail. Rep then directed me to standard MS Customer Care, but I got tired of waiting after being cut off 3 separate times.

So what do I do? I have a valid Windows 7 license, but I can't activate? Is it a matter of me using the COA from the bottom of the machine to try and activate a non-oem (retail) version? I thought that was allowed? I'm not in from of my machine right now, as I am currently at work, so I can't use the MGA tool. Could it be that the software is reading the OEM SLP key from my bios and it's conflicting with the COA SLP I'm trying to use? I'm really at a loss here and could use any assistance you can provide me.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
18 Apr 2011   #2

Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit

I would try online validation.

Genuine Microsoft Software

"If needed, it will also attempt to repair Windows 7 licensing components that may have been damaged, moved, or deleted."
My System SpecsSystem Spec
18 Apr 2011   #3

Windows 7 Home Premium x64

Like I said, I am not in front of my machine so I will have to try what you are suggesting once I get home from work. Still, I thought that the product key from the COA attached to the bottom of the machine was not able to be activated via the online methods?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
18 Apr 2011   #4
Microsoft MVP


The Product Key on COA changes the activation method from OEM-SLP to OEM-COA and normally works without an in-person call, although you must sometimes do the robocall. I've never heard of it not activating.

The main causes of rejection are wrong digit input or wrong version installed.

Try, try again.

If you must, call Sony Tech Support back to ask them to help you activate. You''ll then find out how bent they are upon enforcing the sponsored factory bloatware, as many will do now under pressure from the sponsors who provide most of their profit margin. If they say they won't support a clean reinstall when posed to them "hypothetically" then don't tell them you have done so, call back for help to activate the "recovery disks" reinstall.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Trouble activating after clean install on new HDD

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