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Windows 7: clean install win 7 OEM Lenovo (downgrade from win 8) activation fails

24 Oct 2016   #1

windows 7 Professional 64 bit
clean install win 7 OEM Lenovo (downgrade from win 8) activation fails

Hello there,
I have some troubles installing or rather activating windows 7 pro 64bit OEM.

I pretty much did what is described here: Clean install of Windows 7 on SSD in ThinkPad T460. Stuck between rock and a hard place. - Lenovo Community

In short:
I bought a Lenove T460 this summer, which came preinstalled with windows 7 Pro. But with no COA (Certificate of Authentity) sticker anywhere, not even under the battery. The only sticker I found was a windows 8 pro one. So I assume that my laptop came with a downgraded windows 7.

Now I wanted to have a clean install of windows 7.

- So what I did first was to create a USB stick with the Recovery image, created via the Lenovo ThinkVantage Tool, to be able to restore if anything goes wrong.
- What I did next was to get a windows 7 iso via the WindowsIsoDownloader (e.g. from here: Microsoft Windows and Office ISO Download Tool)
- Downloaded the ISO and 'injected' the USB3 drivers successfully as described here: How to Install Windows 7 with only USB 3.0 Ports
- And to be able to choose the correct version of windows which was preinstalled I followed this link: How to Choose Desired Windows 7 Edition / Version During Setup? - AskVG
One of the comments there (from Gab) said:
"If you have a PC with an OEM product key on it set EditionID to the proper Windows 7 version, set Channel to OEM and set VL to 0.
This will install a perfectly legal operating system that passes activation. As a long-time service tech I've done it hundreds of times.."
So I set it to windows 7 pro with OEM on!

Afterwards I booted from this USB stick successfully, wiped the SSD clean and installed windows 7, leaving the activation process for later as I thought this would be done automatically (or with the key I extracted from OS beforehand). Unfortunately the activation process after installing windows didn't work. I also tried it with the phone activation, didn't work.

Then I read somewhere, that I would've had to run a programm on the preinstalled windows to extract a bit more information to be able to activate later on. (This is maybe more a windows 8 thing, but as this was a downgraded windows 7...) Didn't do this unfortunately. So I thought, well let's just restore the preinstalled windows from the recovery USB stick. Turns out this doesn't work anymore as I have also deleted the recovery part of the harddrive while wiping the drive.

So I called the Lenovo support if they could help me activating windows. They don't. I would have to buy the recovery DVDs from them to be able to do so.

I also tried to install Windows 8 as the sticker suggests this was the 'original' version of windows installed. Downloaded the Windows 8(.1) ISO put it on a USB stick, started the installation process, but wasn't able to get past the key entering bit of the activation, as I have no key. I thought this would be done automatically because it's stored in the BIOS somewhere.

My questions now are:
Should I be able to install AND activate Windows 7 or Windows 8 on the machine somehow, but did do it wrong so far?
Can I extract the additional data needed for the activation from the recovery stick created via the Lenovo tool?

I hope I could explain my problem and my steps so far well enough.
Thanks in advance for any hint!

My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Oct 2016   #2

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Vista x64 / 7 X64

"So what I did first was to create a USB stick with the Recovery image, created via the Lenovo ThinkVantage Tool, to be able to restore if anything goes wrong."

We can probably restore that. After that, up to you.

Need to know exactly what is on the USB stick. Looking particularly for large files with extension .wim or .swm.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Oct 2016   #3

W7 home premium 32bit/W7HP 64bit/w10 tp insider ring

The only way your going to get the OS key, whether it be 7/8, is from your backup copy.
please use this tool, it will find the keys for 7/8/10, on any comp
Showkey - Windows 10 Forums
(base key Lenovo W7 Pro -- 237XB-GDJ7B-MV8MH-98QJM-24367)
Note I highly doubt that comp had downgrade rights, or even came with W7 Pro,
WHY -- because ALL OEM W7 installed systems come with a pre-attached sticker, with a back-up key on it.

And you have also stated that the only sticker is for W8, the genuine one is postage stamp sized and does not show an OS.

My System SpecsSystem Spec

24 Oct 2016   #4

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Vista x64 / 7 X64

Lenovo does machines already "downgraded" to Windows 7 with an option to "upgrade" to Windows 8.1/10 Pro.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Oct 2016   #5

windows 7 Professional 64 bit

Thanks a lot for the swift response!
Makes me feel hope again :)

To answer SIW2:
- G:\winRE.wim (323MB)
- G:\factoryrecovery\sdrivebackup.wim (10MB)

- G:\factoryrecovery\cdrivebackup.swm (1.99GB)
- G:\factoryrecovery\cdrivebackup2.swm (1.99GB)
- G:\factoryrecovery\cdrivebackup3.swm (1.99GB)
- G:\factoryrecovery\cdrivebackup4.swm (1.99GB)
- G:\factoryrecovery\cdrivebackup5.swm (1.79GB)

The full G:\ looks like:
G:\System Volume Information\

Does this help? How would I now go about recovering the OS?

To answer torchwood:
Using the tool you linked I can't navigate to the backup, as it looks for the folder SOURCES, which I don't have. What to do?

Now what's interesting: when I enter the product key, which I got from a tool running on the preinstalled windows (before I started wiping everything) it shows, that it's a 'Win 10 RTM Professional OEM:DM'
The other key I got from this tool is the one you mention (base key Lenovo W7 Pro -- 237XB-GDJ7B-MV8MH-98QJM-24367 which is called in the tool: Windows 7 Professional OEM:SLP)

The sticker looks similar to this: , without the 'academic use'. So it doesn't say explicitly '8' on there, but the design implies it I thought. That's why I interpreted it the same way as SIW2: it was shipped with an already downgraded windows 7.
But not downgraded from Win 8 as it now seems but from win 10?!
Does this shed any new light on the situation?

(sorry for the large pic, but how to define the size within the [img]-tag?)
My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Oct 2016   #6

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Vista x64 / 7 X64

Seems straightforwrd.

1) Create a partition - use a 3rd party tool, e.g. partition wizard ( free edition is fine). 25-30gb should be enough. Give it a drive letter.

2) Use WinNtsetup to Apply the image to your newly created partition.

a)Browse to G:\factoryrecovery\cdrivebackup.swm ( Select location of windows installation files)

b)point at your newly created partition as the target (Select location of the installation drive).

c) Click Setup.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
25 Oct 2016   #7

windows 7 Professional 64 bit

Thanks a ton SIW2!!
That did the trick. I could recover the preinstalled win 7 pro!
One tiny remark: for my Lenovo t460 (2016) the 30GB were just about enough. So for the next person, maybe use a bit bigger partition.

On the next note. Now that I have the windows up and running I was searching for the tools I mentioned above, which extract additional data to be able to activate the clean installed windows. After some digging I found this website: 3 Tools to Backup and Restore Windows 7 and Vista OEM Activation License • Raymond.CC

On there three tools are listed, which all are capable of doing this:
- Activation Backup and Restore (ABR)
- Advanced Tokens Manager (ATM)
-’s Windows 7 OEM License Installer

As it turns out: for the first two, you have to run them before the clean install of windows, in order to back up the additional information to be able to activate the windows after the clean install. For the third tool however, you don't have to backup anything beforehand. You just run it afterwards and voilá windows is activated. Says so in the System tab. Honestly I can't believe that worked!!

Does this sound legit?!

And now just to get all the information:
Would I now also be able to do a clean install of Windows 10? Because the key finder tool tells me I have a key for 'Win 10 RTM Professional OEM:DM'? Which ISO would I have to download? (Threshold, Date, Redstone?) There are some options with the WindowsISOdownloader from

Thanks again for such a quick answer which helped instantly!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
25 Oct 2016   #8

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Vista x64 / 7 X64

Yes Win10 should pick up that key from the bios. Redstone is the recent one.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
25 Oct 2016   #9

Win-7-Pro64bit 7-H-Prem-64bit

Interesting I was under the impression Microsoft and 10 went by hardware id's and nothing from bios.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 clean install win 7 OEM Lenovo (downgrade from win 8) activation fails

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