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Windows 7: Can't activate Windows (used 3 different isos)

21 Aug 2010   #1

Ubuntu Linux 64-bit/Windows 7 32-bit
Can't activate Windows (used 3 different isos)

I'm trying to reformat my friend's Windows 7 laptop. He lost the cd, so I figured I would just download an OEM Windows 7 Home Premium and use the key on the laptop. It absolutely refuses to take the key though, I've used 3 different isos now, including the disk I got with my laptop from Dell. I had this problem with Windows XP home isos not working with a Windows XP home key, but it turned out there were OEM keys, volume keys and a few other types I forget. I figure this is the case with Windows 7, but OEM doesn't seem to be working.

Can anyone help me figure out what kind of key I have so I can get the right iso? The laptop is an HP dv4 series.

I think I might have it. He bought it from Best Buy, so it's not an OEM key (says the guy who had to try 3 isos to figure that out) it's a retail key! Here's a great reference for anyone else tripped up by this problem, I'm downloading a retail iso now which should hopefully be solving this problem.

My System SpecsSystem Spec
21 Aug 2010   #2
Microsoft MVP


The retail installer is the same for factory OEM starting with Vista.

Do you know for sure that the version is Home Premium? Look at the COA sticker on the machine. What version does it say? Ask your friend for sure. Have him look at his literature.

Once you know the version, install from any retail installer for that version, or unlock all versions in any retail installer using this method:

If you or your friend know the key is legit and can figure out what version it is for certain, then it should work. If you are in question, MS Customer Service can validate the key and help you get it reinstalled.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
25 Aug 2010   #3

Windows 7 Ultimate 64 Steve Ballmer Signature (jealous???)

Did you leave the recovery partition intact (if it has one)? If so, download a utility called Super Grub and burn it to a CD. Boot from the CD and you should get options for booting that include the recovery partition.

Worked for me in the past. It was on an older HP laptop with Vista.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

03 Sep 2010   #4

Win 7

If you have an iso software (e.g. PowerISO), copy the iso to your hard drive. Unpack the iso. Delete the ei.cfg file from the sources directory (if your anxious open it first with notepad and you'll see what I am saying makes sense). Repack the iso and burn it onto a DVD.

What you have just created is a Universal Windows 7 install DVD (either 32 bit or 64 bit based upon the DVD you started with) that is Retail/OEM blind and Windows 7 Version blind. It doesn't know what it is so it will ask on installing from it and it will accept either OEM or Retail Keys.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
03 Sep 2010   #5
Abhishek Ghosh

Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit, Mac OS X 10.6

First do as Greg, then if not works....tell your friend to contact HP. Yes, he have to pay a cost for the media, but you know, he lost a precious thing...:)
My System SpecsSystem Spec
03 Sep 2010   #6

Windows 7 Enterprise (x64); Windows Server 2008 R2 (x64)

Respectfully this sounds real fishy to me. I have loaded the same machines with OEM, Upgrade, Retail and Enterprise DVD’s of Windows 7. They all activate with the correct product key. The only one that I know what was a problem is using and Upgrade CD on a blank hard drive. The product key would not work until you made a registry change, but after that it works perfectly. (Note this does not happen with all Upgrade DVDs). So my question would be, are you using a legal product key, especially with you saying you have used 3 different product keys?? Doesn’t the computer have a product key sticker?

Please note we do not help people illegally install Windows 7.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
03 Sep 2010   #7
Microsoft MVP


He's tried 3 diff ISO's, not keys. He's trying to activate the same key with MS but failing due to something about install - possibly using Upgrade version on wiped HD is it.

He said WIn7 came from Best Buy, is trying to activate it legally with MS, so I wil take his word for it unless something proves otherwise.

He could have cracked it off the torrents, instead he just went for a clean ISO like many have to do. He may have just gotten the wrong version. Reads legit but XP oldthink to me.

Please do not accuse people seeking help here of being thieves on such thin evidence.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
03 Sep 2010   #8
Abhishek Ghosh

Windows 7 Ultimate 64 bit, Mac OS X 10.6

@Windowstar: Please look our Guru's forum :)

Wishmaster, Greg and all, let us wait for his reply what happened.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
03 Sep 2010   #9

Windows 7 Enterprise (x64); Windows Server 2008 R2 (x64)

Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by gregrocker View Post
Please do not accuse people seeking help here of being thieves on such thin evidence.
Greg, if you have followed my threads you know I am very willing to help, I am not accusing anyone of anything, just making sure we don't have a situation were it is illegal. One has to test the OP to make sure because it is so easy to get burned.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
04 Sep 2010   #10

Windows 7 Ultimate
My solution to a related problem

I had a dying Windows 7 Ultimate hard drive, so I installed a second drive, installed Windows 7 Ultimate onto it, and transferred the files to the new drive. After installing the new drive, the system went right to that drive when I started the computer.

I finally got around to pulling the old drive and plugging the new drive into where the old drive used to be, which caused the system not to boot. To fix that, I used the repair function on the iso disc to repair the MBR. I knew what to do having been through all of this before with another computer. Everything worked fine again. What I neglected to do was activate Windows at that time.

A week ago (probably after the trial period expired) my desktop background went black with a "Windows is not Genuine, build 7600" message in the bottom right corner of the screen. To try to fix it I went to the System panel, clicked "Change product key" to bring up the key entry field, and entered the original product key. This came back with a "Windows Not Genuine" message.

Above the Change Product Key line was another line to Activate Windows. I clicked on that and saw a "Windows Not Genuine" message with a link to follow to resolve the problem. This took me to a link to Install the Windows Validation Tool, which claimed to repair validation problems. After I did that and let it validate, the warnings went away. The black background on the desktop remained, but that was resolved by installing a new wallpaper.

The line above "Change Product Key" now shows "Windows is Activated."

Good luck,


My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Can't activate Windows (used 3 different isos)

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