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Windows 7: Looking for volunteers to test motherboard swap theory

19 Mar 2019   #1
johnhoh

Win7 pro x64
 
 
Looking for volunteers to test motherboard swap theory

Its been demonstrated that swapping the motherboard of a windows7 non-raid sata boot drive is a piece of cake if you follow a few easy steps, regardless of whether the two motherboards are similar. And that swapping without doing these steps is a crap shoot that may or may not work. The steps are:

1) make sure the bios of the old motherboard and the new motherboard are set to AHCI in their bios' SATA setting. Most all motherboards in recent years use this as the default setting. This tells bios to turn AHCI on.

2) Use regedit to make sure the registry of the boot drive says "0" under the START setting for HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\services\msahci. This tells windows to turn AHCI on.

3) In device manager, change the device driver of your boot drive's IDE ATA/ATAPI controller to "Standard AHCI 1.0 driver". This makes your sata boot drive look generic to windows when it boots up with the new motherboard so it will avoid the dreaded blue screen we all remember when trying to swap motherboards of windows XP boot drives. Unlike win7, WinXP was pretty intolerant of motherboard swaps.

If you follow these steps a motherboard swap will successfully boot to the desktop every time. At that point its just a matter of installing your new motherboard's drivers and if you desire, cleaning up the no-longer-needed old drivers using Device Cleanup Tool.

I've done hundreds of win7 motherboard swaps over the years as a hardware troubleshooter and by following steps 1-3 it always works. But now I'm wondering if step 3 is even necessary. The rationale for step 3 is to assure that windows has a predefined hard disk driver that is compatible with the new motherboard. BUT, since AHCI itself provides SATA hot-pluggability, I'm now wondering if windows will hot-plug-load a compatible SATA disk controller driver at the boot up of the new machine EVEN IF step 3 is avoided and the user KEEPS the old motherboard-specific controller driver installed.

So if anyone is wanting to help me tinker with this theory, all you need to do is to swap motherboards doing steps 1 and 2 ONLY, and see if your boot drive will boot to the desktop of a different motherboard that has a different chipset. Btw, its a known fact that if the new motherboard's chipset is the same as the old board, or even if its simply similar, then you will boot up successfully regardless. So its preferable if you do this with dissimilar chipset motherboards. Thanks in advance if anyone wants to give this a try.
I realize there is a decent chance no one will be interested in doing this but figured I'd ask anyway. I've tried it already of course and it always worked, but its hard to draw conclusions from a small sample set of success.


My System SpecsSystem Spec
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19 Mar 2019   #2
iko22

Windows 7 x64, Vista x64, 8.1 smartphone
 
 

Hello johnhoh

I'll stand in and be your Volunteer #1!

This swap works perfectly well on Vista by using motherboards with dissimilar chipsets. At the time it was well publicised on the web that you can perform this tip on Vista. The problem that occurs with Windows 7 is that the licencing agreement is different. I think on Windows 7 Licencing Agreement stateds that you cannot upgrade the CPU or motherboard chipsets. Which means that the swap can only be legitimately performed to motherboards of the same chipset.

You can do step three first. Which is the way I went. Step three can be performed on its own and without re-booting, then perform the motherboard swap. Once your powered up, you can then delete the old obsolete motherboard device drivers from the device store.

Of course, the motherboards I was using were specced out with legacy BIOS. Todays motherboards are UEFI. And more information is stored in the UEFI firmware. I suspect that means that this tip may not work on UEFI motherboards & OS licence.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
20 Mar 2019   #3
Megahertz07

Windows 7 HP 64
 
 

Every time you boot windows looks to see if the Lan MAC address is the same as when you did the activation.
If you change MB, Lan MAC address will be different and win will ask to activate.

If you disable Lan on BIOS, as soon as you boot, win will ask to activate.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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21 Mar 2019   #4
F22 Simpilot

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

Why not just boot in safe mode and uninstall all drivers first, then swap motherboards and go from there? I did this when i moved my Windows install from one computer to a new PC build. And it worked.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
21 Mar 2019   #5
F22 Simpilot

Windows 7 Ultimate x64
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by Megahertz07 View Post
Every time you boot windows looks to see if the Lan MAC address is the same as when you did the activation.
If you change MB, Lan MAC address will be different and win will ask to activate.

If you disable Lan on BIOS, as soon as you boot, win will ask to activate.

I think there are more signatures Windows uses then just he NIC's MAC address. I'm pretty sure I can go into BIOS right now, disable the NIC and boot Windows and all will be fine. Besides, I don't think disabling a NIC somehow gets rid of the MAC address associated to the on board hardware for the NIC.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
21 Mar 2019   #6
Barman58

Windows 10 Pro x64 x3, Ubuntu
 
 

The motherboard itself is the critical item with activation checks, exactly what is the data used is quite rightly not available in the public domain, as this is a check used to prevent piracy.

Whilst it is true that the MAC address of a network device is Unique (worldwide), this can be spoofed quite easily, it was regular thing a few years ago when IP addresses were allocated to an individual by the ISP, it became necessary at times to change the MAC presented to the ISP with that of the PC registered, [simply adding a switch or router into the system would hide the PC IP from the ISP, the software to "correct" this fault was often available for free from the ISP. Although this is no longer an issue with most ISPs I have an option in several of my NICs (Network Interface Card], both cable and Wireless, to manually set the MAC address.

One other thing to bear in mind is whilst it often appears that a motherboard change has been successfully activated, Microsoft make random regular checks on all device idents and these can be up to 120 days apart or more and sometimes a device will need to fail the more than once before the system flags the device .

The need for workarounds (even though they rarely work for long anyway), has been removed with Windows 10 as as long as you register each device to a Microsoft IDs the system will allow you to de-register an old PC from it's licence and apply the licence to a new device - obviously this will be monitored to prevent abuse
My System SpecsSystem Spec
21 Mar 2019   #7
johnhoh

Win7 pro x64
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by F22 Simpilot View Post
Why not just boot in safe mode and uninstall all drivers first, then swap motherboards and go from there? I did this when i moved my Windows install from one computer to a new PC build. And it worked.
Yeah the issue here is we are trying to prove a negative that is rare. Swapping win7 motherboards with a sata boot drive almost always works even if you do nothing at all. But the reason I did not suggest your safe mode option is I'm going for the quickest method possible that addresses steps 1-3.
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 Looking for volunteers to test motherboard swap theory




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