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Windows 7: Why does Microsoft have distinct ISO files for COEM & Standard W7 OS?

3 Weeks Ago   #1
GuitarRock

Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
 
 
Why does Microsoft have distinct ISO files for COEM & Standard W7 OS?

System Information:
I have an HP EliteDesk 800G1 SFF computer with Windows 7 Professional that I bought on Amazon from a authorized refurbisher

The machine was originally shipped with the OS installed and Activated. There is a W7 Pro 25 character COA Sticker on the case (FYI, looking up the Windows Product ID shows "OEM" in the second group of characters).


I want to do a Fresh Reinstall of the Operating System on a new SSD.

I tried to download the W7 ISO directly from Microsofts website, but as many have documented, it would not do it because my Product Key is OEM; consequently, I tried to use the Windows ISO Downloader from Heidoc.net to download the appropriate edition ISO file for my system, which is "Windows 7 Professional SP1 COEM"

Unfortunately, the COEM edition, for reasons unknown, was not listed as a download choice (although I know it has been available in the past, as many have previously downloaded it and there screen shots on the internet showing it).

.......so, instead, I actually downloaded the ISO named "Windows 7 Professional SP1" from the choices under Windows 7 (2108*). I have not attempted any reinstall yet.

[*PS: By the way, when choosing your OS on heidoc.net, there is a choice of Windows 7 or Windows 7 (2018).
I have no idea why there are two separate W7 listing, but there were no files available under Windows 7, only the Windows 7 (2018) one.

If anyone knows the difference, please post the answer.}


If I understand correctly, this non OEM ISO file is just fine (identical operating system files?) to use for my fresh reinstallation (please correct me if I am wrong).


Four (4) QUESTIONS:
1. What is the practical purpose/reason of Microsoft having a separate/distinct ISO file download for the "Standard" (Retail) and "COEM" versions of Windows 7 considering you can use either of the ISO files to do the fresh reinstallation?

2. Is the "plain" and "COEM" ISO's different in any way?

3. If you were to uses the "COEM" ISO, does it Activate Online Automatically......... whereas the non COEM ISO requires Phone Activation?

4. I've also read something about a file called ei.cfg that can be edited to change the "Channel" from "Retail" to "OEM".
Would I have to do this with the ISO I downloaded? If so how?

The Windows Product KEY determines the license, so I'm just trying to understand why Microsoft has two independent ISO files for the same edition operating system. It seems pointless (and confusing).

I'm looking forward to the experts answers.


My System SpecsSystem Spec
.
3 Weeks Ago   #2
torchwood

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

Hi GuitarRock.

Very interesting question, I'll tell you what i know.

W7 as an OS was shipped with All consumer versions included.

MS support was only given to the Retail licence, OEM's had to support the rest, hence you can only get the download from MS if you have a Retail key.

As part of the agreement between MS and the OEM's to ship PRE-loaded Certified, (Activated) versions of the OS, they had to include additional data - a generic activation key and a SLIC Table, allthough this was included as part of the Motherboard Bios code
(Required as part of thier Anti-piracy policy, a much bigger topic of discussion)
There is a folder titled OEM, that is incuded on the COEM, all of 16 KB

Telephone activation is generally required on clean installs- unless its Retail or like for like install media, ie Dell comp Dell media.

ei.cfg
https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=...c2Tq00WdExaNmC

Think of this as a choice like within the Features sub-menu select the option you want.


As for Windows 7 2018 its just a more upto date version


Roy
My System SpecsSystem Spec
3 Weeks Ago   #3
GuitarRock

Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
 
 

torchwood, thanks for taking the time to reply with your thoughtful information.

My computer knowledge is pretty minimal, so just to clarify a couple points in regards to performing a Clean Installation of Windows 7:

* So are you saying that the "Retail" ISO and the "COEM" ISO are "Bit Accurate" accept that the "COEM has the additional 16 kb folder?


Say for example, I had access to both the "Windows 7 Professional SP1" ISO file and the "Windows 7 Professional SP1 COEM" ISO file.

* How would the Installation and Activation steps be different if I used the "Retail" ISO compared to if I used "COEM" ISO?

* Am I correct in that the "Retail" ISO and "COEM" ISO will both Install without any issues?

* The reason/advantage to using the "COEM" ISO is that it is more likely to Automatically Online Activate?

* If using the "Retail" ISO, in order to Activate it, I would need to go through the Change the Product Key process, and with luck get auto activation doing that, but if not, use the Activate by Phone method?

* If I took the "Retail" ISO file and "converted" it to "OEM" by changing the Channel of the ei.cfg file from Retail to OEM (and burning a new DVD/USB), would that allow auto online activation?

In a nutshell, I'm trying to understand why/how using the "COEM" ISO is preferable when performing the Clean Installation and any additional steps that would be required if I am forced to use the "Retail" ISO.

Any further help from torchwood or anyone else is appreciated.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
.

3 Weeks Ago   #4
SIW2

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Vista x64 / 7 X64
 
 

1. You can use either iso file. Iirc the difference is only in the ei.cfg file. What that does is present you with just one edition during setup ( even though all editions are in the install.wim). It also pulls up the license files which you see during installation. It doesn't affect activation per se. As long as your license is for the matching edition ( Home prem, Pro, Ult, etc) it will accept oem system builder, or retail license keys. If there is a matching slic table in bios, it will also accept oem offline activation.


2.Most people disable the ei.cfg file in one of two ways:
If the iso is extracted to usb stick, simply delete the ei.cfg file from the sources folder on the usb stick.
Or use ei.cfg remover to flip the bit on the iso. eicfg_removal_utility.zip
Then ALL editions in the install.wim become available when installing. That way any MS official iso file can be used to install any edition.

3. The 2018 version has some updates integrated. Obviously there have been more updates since, and some of them have been superseded. It will be ok for your purposes.


4. Whichever iso you use doesn't need any additional steps - if you are using the COA key, skip entering the key and put it in after installation has completed.

Alternatively:

If your machine has the correct slic table in the bios, you could skip entering the key, then after installation, run 7oeminstaller instead of entering your COA key. 7oeminstaller. That would be offline activation.

According to the HP Elitedesk 800 specs Windows comes preinstalled. Very likely it has the slic table and you can use 7oeminstaller for offline activation. That is probably the simplest way.


My System SpecsSystem Spec
3 Weeks Ago   #5
GuitarRock

Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
 
 

S1W2, I really appreciate the information. All you guys are fantastic.

I’m am still a little confused.

My computer knowledge is quite “basic” (Sometimes I feel like a grade school level kid trying to understand a college level course). Please accept my apologies in advance to all who respond if I seem a little “slow” to grasping your information. My thick skull will absorb it eventually:).

If anyone else wants to give jump in with their input, please post.


Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by SIW2 View Post
1. You can use either iso file. Iirc the difference is only in the ei.cfg file. What that does is present you with just one edition during setup ( even though all editions are in the install.wim). It also pulls up the license files which you see during installation. It doesn't affect activation per se. As long as your license is for the matching edition ( Home prem, Pro, Ult, etc) it will accept oem system builder, or retail license keys. If there is a matching slic table in bios, it will also accept oem offline activation.

[COLOR="Blue"]This is why I am confused (still) as to why a COEM ISO file version even exists to begin with.

Ok, its been established that you can use a "Retail" ISO to install with an OEM Key, .........but.......there MUST be a reason/advantage/benefit for a person with an OEM system to use the "COEM" ISO, if it is available to them, during a Clean Reinstall and Activation or Microsoft wouldn’t have created a distinct file for it.

torchwood said that there is a 16 mb folder titled "OEM" in a COEM ISO. I am wondering what those files contain that make Installation and Activation "better" (less workarounds, easier, faster......or whatever).

* At the end of my post I reference two Methods of extra steps that are purportedly required to allow using a "Retail" ISO to Install with a "OEM" Key. If these workarounds are correct..............

.............I guess the benefit of using a COEM ISO would avoid these extra steps?

What are your opinions on this?


2.Most people disable the ei.cfg file in one of two ways:
If the iso is extracted to usb stick, simply delete the ei.cfg file from the sources folder on the usb stick.
Or use ei.cfg remover to flip the bit on the iso. Attachment 408515

Why would I need to disable the ei.cfg file?

My OEM Key is for “Professional” and the ISO file I have downloaded is also “Professional” (but…..it is the “Retail” version, NOT COEM).

(Now if my downloaded ISO was, for example, “Ultimate”, I could see how deleting the ei.cfg file would be required so that the ISO would become “Universal”; and I could then choose/select “Professional” during the appropriate screen during Installation.)


Are you saying disabling the ei.cfg file is a requirement because I’m using a “Retail” ISO with a “OEM” Product Key?.........or am I misunderstanding this and that it would be unnecessary, in my case, given my OEM Key is "Professional" and I have a "Professional" ISO?




Then ALL editions in the install.wim become available when installing. That way any MS official iso file can be used to install any edition.

When you say ALL “Editions”, you mean these 6 (Starter, Home Basic, Home Premium, Professional, Enterprise and Ultimate) correct?

Unfortunately, this does NOT make COEM versions “selectable” during installation, DOES IT?


* See Changing "Channel" in ei.cfg near bottom of post for possible alternate Methods



3. The 2018 version has some updates integrated. Obviously there have been more updates since, and some of them have been superseded. It will be ok for your purposes.

FYI, I checked with heidoc.net and they said the August 2018 section uses a different “download method”: which required them to be listed in a separate section, but no mention of them being more up-to-date. I am guessing the August 2018 date simply refers to the date when they added the different download method, but I could be wrong.


4. Whichever iso you use doesn't need any additional steps

* So you would disagree with Method 1 listed below is required or necessary?

4. - If you are using the COA key, skip entering the key and put it in after installation has completed.

What is the reasoning/benefit for waiting until AFTER installation is completed to entering the COA? Will it fail if entered during installation?

Alternatively:

If your machine has the correct slic table in the bios, you could skip entering the key, then after installation, run 7oeminstaller instead of entering your COA key. 7oeminstaller. That would be offline activation.

The raymond.cc’s Windows 7 OEM Installer looks like a great tool. Thanks for the link.

According to the HP Elitedesk 800 specs Windows comes preinstalled. Very likely it has the slic table and you can use 7oeminstaller for offline activation. That is probably the simplest way.


Below I have summarized (with links) two different methods that purportedly accomplish:
* “How do you Reinstall Windows 7 with a “Retail” ISO with a OEM Product Key”.

Method 1: from Reinstall Windows 7: OEM or Standard? - Super User
This guy says that if you use an OEM Key with a Retail ISO that it will Install just fine, but that Activation will Fail.
To overcome this he says you need to:
* Open up the ei.cfg file in a text editor (notepad I guess?)
* Under the word Channel, delete the word “Retail” and replace it by typing the word “OEM”.
* Then, burn a new ISO on USB or DVD and perform the Installation with this newly created/altered ISO.


Method 2 : from Can an OEM licence key be used to activate a retail disc installation - Microsoft Community
* Install using the “Retail’ ISO, then
* Start>Computer>Properties
* Right Click on Change Product Key, then Enter OEM Product Key, click Next
* Auto online activation is attempted and hopefully successful)
* If Internet Auto Activation fails, Activate Manually by Telephone

Please comment on these two methods. Are they necessary? Do they work? Do you need to use both? If they they both work, which is preferable?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
3 Weeks Ago   #6
SIW2

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Vista x64 / 7 X64
 
 

You are confusing editions, channels and what you call "versions".

It isn't that complicated.

1. Editions are home premium, pro , ultimate, etc.

If you have a valid license for the edition that is installed, it will activate.

There are different activation methods:

Retail key from a boxed product - activates online .

System builder key also bought as a boxed product - activates online.

COA key supplied with a preinstalled windows ( usually on a sticker in the battery compartment) - activates online.



2. Preinstalls - also called SLP

If Windows came preinstalled on the machine, it usually has a table in the bios, which matches a certificate and key they must be used together. You cannot use just that key by itself.

That is why manufacturers also supply a (different) key on a sticker in case the user needs to reinstall.

If the manufacturer supplies an installation/reinstalltion iso, it usually has the cert and key included so it matches the table in the bios and activates offline automatically - therefore, no need to use the COA key from the sticker. It might also have wallpapers and logos and other useless crap in an OEM folder .

Often people can't get hold of the manufacturer supplied installation media - and they have lost or can't read the COA key. Then they can use normal MS installation media and run 7oeminstaller which is the same as the manufacture offline activation.

3. You don't need to worry about the channel - it pulls up a slightly different of the license during installation - which nobody ever bothers to read.

It doesn't matter if you use regular install media, or the COEM. The part that is relevant for activation is the edition.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
3 Weeks Ago   #7
GuitarRock

Windows 7 Professional 64-bit
 
 

SIW2, Thanks for the follow-up.

I actually know the difference between Editions and Channels, but I can see how you might have thought I didn’t.

What "through me off" was when you said “most people disable the ei.cfg file”. At that time I thought you were suggesting I needed to do that too, which didn't make sense to me considering the Retail ISO file Edition I downloaded (Professional) already “matched” the Edition I needed………….

...........I now understand that what you meant to say was, “In instances that you don’t have the ISO Edition that you need, you can view all the available Editions by disabling the ei.cgi file in the ISO so you can select the Edition you need during installation”.

When I said “versions”, I was simply trying to distinguish a “COEM” ISO from a “Standard/Retail” ISO. I could have been more clear regarding that.

So the good news is we're on the same page there in regards to Editions and Pages.


In your first post, bullet point 4 (quoted below) you said:
4. Whichever iso you use doesn't need any additional steps - if you are using the COA key, skip entering the key and put it in after installation has completed.

Alternatively:

If your machine has the correct slic table in the bios, you could skip entering the key, then after installation, run 7oeminstaller instead of entering your COA key. 7oeminstaller. That would be offline activation.

According to the HP Elitedesk 800 specs Windows comes preinstalled. Very likely it has the slic table and you can use 7oeminstaller for offline activation. That is probably the simplest way.[/QUOTE]



Three Questions:
1) Could you explain, in your option "one" above, why you instruct to put in the COA after installation has completed (as apposed to during the installation process)? Does it Matter?

2) Either way, it is still an Online Activation, right?

3) If using the Windows 7 OEM Installer, the reason for waiting until after installation is completed is so you can take advantage of Automatic Offline Activation. Otherwise, you defeat the purpose using the 7oeminstaller. Is that correct?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
3 Weeks Ago   #8
Lance1

Windows 7 Ultimate, Service Pack 1, 64 bit
 
 

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by GuitarRock View Post
System Information:
I have an HP EliteDesk 800G1 SFF computer with Windows 7 Professional that I bought on Amazon from a authorized refurbisher
I may have missed it, but did the system come with the original hard drive in the system? If it did, it should still have the Recovery Partition on the drive. here's a link to the manual Performing a system recovery After the recovery you could just imagine the entire drive to the new SSD from a tower system. This would definitely solve you issue. That is if it came with the drive. This is simple stuff for experienced ones. I hope I'm not going over your head. Fingers crossed!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
3 Weeks Ago   #9
SIW2

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Vista x64 / 7 X64
 
 

lance,

HERE
My System SpecsSystem Spec
3 Weeks Ago   #10
Snick

Win 10 x64, Linux Lite, Win 7 x64, BlackArch, & Kali
 
 

This is the contents of a win7x64 ultimate ei.cfg

[EditionID]
Ultimate
[Channel]
Retail
[VL]
0
You can extract the files with 7-zip then open the sources folder, scroll down to ei.cfg you can open it with notepad, or similar. I use notepad++ which has right click entry. Remove or rename the ei.cfg file.
Why does Microsoft have distinct ISO files for COEM & Standard W7 OS?-win-7-iso-contents.png Why does Microsoft have distinct ISO files for COEM & Standard W7 OS?-ei.cfg-text-file.png
Use ImgBurn to create the iso, simply open the program, mode ez-picker, create image file from files and folders select the win7 folder, name the iso either now or after you create it. Set the path for the iso, desktop is good. and click the start icon with the right-pointing green arrow. Read and click though the prompts, simple. You just created a Win7x64 All-In-One ISO.

You can use setup.exe in the folder you created extracting the ISO files to run a repair install if need be, and when you get to the screen choose your version. Sweet!. You need to have your 25 character product key same as clean install!


My System SpecsSystem Spec
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 Why does Microsoft have distinct ISO files for COEM & Standard W7 OS?




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