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Windows 7: Can OOBE maintain activation?

29 Jan 2018   #1

Windows 7 Pro 64 Bit
Can OOBE maintain activation?

Hi all,

I repair among other things laptops. Up till now, fault is repaired, full reinstall of OS from scratch, drivers, activate, test and pass the unit back to the store.

We have now been told we need to keep a restore partition on the drive- I have found OneKey which will do this without any issues.

The second criteria is the laptop before being handed back to the store or more importantly before a customer purchases it, it must be in OOBE state due to legal reasons - apparently the customer has to agree to the terms to use windows whereas currently whoever does the reinstall agrees to be ablt o get past that and install drivers etc.

So on its own, the recovery partition part is fine and is only done if the original factory image is not there (new drive for instance).
More frequently however, the restore partition from factory is removed to gain more space no doubt and so fresh install is the only way.

If I currently OOBE it, it's losing activation status. Can this remain and if so, how?
W8/10 laptops have been ok if they go through OOBE state but the W7 units accept the product key without any issues but do not activate until someone calls up and goes through the windows activation wizard. The stores do not want to have a customer have to do this everytime.

If there is no way for the W7 activation then fine, we'll just have to install Linux on it which is apparently Plan B but idealy I personally would prefer the laptops to go onto the OS they came with.

Thanks in advance

My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 Jan 2018   #2

Windows 7 HP 64

Not sure if I understood well.
- If you have the original disk, launch a factory restore from BIOS.
- If you have to replace the HDD, you can clone the HDD from an exactly same brand and model or use the recovery disks from an exactly same brand and model and then launch a factory restore from BIOS.
- Using a Win 7 installation disk with the COA label key, when it comes to enter your name, you can enter Audit mode (Ctrl+Shift+F3), install all hardware drivers as Administrator and leave Audit mode.
When the user boots up it will be on the OOBE asking for User name and computer name.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 Jan 2018   #3

Windows 7 Pro 64 Bit

Thanks Megahertz07

So in this case, it's "option 3". I am reinstalling via USB on W7 laptops with the COA label key.

Once I've installed drivers within Audit mode, can I activate windows from here too?
If this works, I can activate windows and then image it to a recovery partition and that would be a done deal
My System SpecsSystem Spec

29 Jan 2018   #4

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

Hi Aj,

Look at at this way, lets say its an OEM Dell for arguements sake.

Before you recieved it for repair
It could currently be Activated in one of TWO ways
1) still using the Origanal factory default key
2) The Key from the COA sticker

Then depending upon how much hardware you've changed there are now 3 Activation modes

The major being the Motherboard, it will then require either a Retail licence, or if you or the retailer is a MS registered refurbisher a Referbished COA sticker, of which you or they should have a stock of.

Based on your following statement, WHICH IS ONLY PARTITIALLY CORRECT

W7 units accept the product key without any issues but do not activate until someone calls up and goes through the windows activation wizard. The stores do not want to have a customer have to do this everytime.

IF the motherboard has NOT been changed, IT should still auto activate, it does not even bother going to MS servers it self validates, - part of the original agreement between MS and the OEM'S
(note there are other factors involved if multiple parts are replaced. swapping a HDD to SSD is fine)

If the MB has been changed then It can only be sold with a Refurb or Retail COA sticker

As long as you have SP1 installed, you can achieve what you want by installing KB971033.
Once the laptop connects to the net it will activate and register it.
Genuine status is a 2 part operation by the way

My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 Jan 2018   #5

Windows 7 Pro 64 Bit

Roy, thank you for the detailed reply!

It will never be a board change - I normally write them off as it's generally beyond economical repair. In many cases it will be 0 parts and just requires a reinstall (virus/corrupt/too slow etc) and in other cases the drive.

With your comment "If the motherboard has NOT been changed..." would it self-validate with the COA key or factory installed key?
In all cases of a laptop repair regardless of how minor or major it is, I would be doing a complete removal all partitions and install W7 on a new partition using a USB (ISO downloaded from MS). I honestly can't remember in all the years I've been doing this where once the install is complete, it just self-validates/activates.

I've just checked the iso and it does have SP1 included/slipstreamed (en_windows_7_professional_with_sp1_x64_dvd_u_676939)

And so the process >
1. Wipe machine and install Windows based on flavour on COA (Home prem/pro/starter etc)
2. Audit mode install drivers
3. Install above KB
4. Create recovery partition
5. Restart to OOBE

Or can I at the point of installing the KB, insert the product key and activate online?

Thanks again
My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 Jan 2018   #6

Windows 7 HP 64

Once you launch Audit mode (Ctrl+Shift+F3) it will reboot and you will see this image (and every time you reboot):

Hit cancel to stay in audit mode and install drivers etc. You can also install SP2 and the security only updates. MS releases SP2 for Windows 7 - Windows 7 Help Forums

To continue Windows installation you have to exit Audit Mode.
Reboot. After reboot you’ll see this screen again.
Click OK here to boot normally in OOBE i.e. normal mode. Before clicking OK, check that System Cleanup Action is set to OOBE, and Shutdown Options set to Reboot.

(Image and text from Kari tutorial)

Attached Thumbnails
Can OOBE maintain activation?-audit.jpg  
My System SpecsSystem Spec
16 Feb 2018   #7

Windows 7 Pro 64 Bit

Just wanted to update and say thanks for the help -
The Audit mode + installation of drivers has pretty much done the trick and ticks the new rules box for selling a laptop in-store so they're happy.
It's a shame I cannot activate Windows in Audit mode and then move it back to OOBE which means every Win Vista/W7 laptop sold, the customer WILL have to phone Microsoft to activate it.

I still don't understand why every W7 laptop I've had so far requires the phoning in vs W8/W10 which seem to activate online everytime but for now it'll do the trick.

Thanks again and time to open a new thread!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
16 Feb 2018   #8

Windows 7 HP 64

Win8 & Win10 stores the Lan MAC address when it is fist activated. When you reinstall Win8 or Win10, if it has a MAC address that was once activated with, it will activate automatically.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
16 Feb 2018   #9

Windows 7 Pro 64 Bit

Perfect - that explains why and also that we should not have this issue with w8 onwards

thanks again :)
My System SpecsSystem Spec

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