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Windows 7: Problem with Product Key

10 Dec 2011   #1

Win 7 Ultimate 64-bit
Problem with Product Key

I bought a (I think) totally legal copy of Win7 Ultimate that is a Dell Re-installation disk.

Firstly, is this indeed legal?

Secondly, unfortunately I did not install it for about five months and when I did finally, I realised that I had lost the Product Key, which had been printed out on a sticker with an ordinary bar-code, not one of multi-coloured MS ones.

The person who sold me the Win 7 says he does not have a record of the Product Key, and suggested I try one of the Recover Key type utilities. I did that but got an error code, and then found the explanation - the product key found was just the generic one for Dell, not the unique key needed to activate.

Question 2 then - will Microsoft sell me a new Product Key for 10 US Dollars, as mentioned on another site??

Hoping you can answer very soon, as I think I only have a day or so before my Win 7 stops working (if that is indeed what happens???)


My System SpecsSystem Spec
10 Dec 2011   #2
Microsoft MVP


Who sold you a Dell Reinstallation DVD? They should only come from Dell.

If you installed it and it activated then you should be able to audit the Product Key using Belarc Advisor, unless it failed to activate then you'd have the default key.

I've not heard of MS selling keys for $10 like that, but they do have a program via Customer Service where in some cases if you buy non-genuine Win7 they can make it good.

I'd look at the Home Premium Upgrade 3-pack which is available at major online retailers for less than the price of a single license. You can just insert the key if same version, or clean reinstall if now. Clean Install with a Upgrade Windows 7 Version

In the future back up your keys as you would your bank account number.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
10 Dec 2011   #3

Win 7 Ultimate 64-bit

Thanks Greg.
I failed to activate.
The 10 dollar thing was from PC Support, see here:-
Frequently Asked Questions About Windows Product Keys

I'm in the UK and haven't seen any 3-packs, and anyway I'd prefer Ultimate.
I am usually fastidious about backing up this sort of stuff but the reason for the delay was a relationship break-up and several moves, hence loss of that (now seemingly very expensive) tiny little sticker.
Anyone else got any better ideas???
My System SpecsSystem Spec

10 Dec 2011   #4

Windows 10 Education 64 bit

Is it actually a Dell Branded DVD? Are you using this Dell DVD on a Dell PC? Where you prompted for a product code during the install? Did this PC originally come with Windows 7 installed on it?
As I understand it product key recovery utilities can only recover the product key that was used to install your current version of Windows. They can't tell you what key a specific install disk is going to accept or ask for. If you don't enter a product code during the Windows install the utility will just read back a generic trial key that windows uses by default when you don't enter one.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
10 Dec 2011   #5

Windows 7 Ultimate SP1 64-Bit

You can get the family pack here: Get Windows 7 for the whole family.

If you do have a genuine Dell DVD, it should only be good for the computer it was supplied with.

As for Microsoft selling you a product key for an OEM disc, it's not going to happen.

If you suspect you may have been sold pirated software, you can report it here:

It has been known for Microsoft to provide people with a genuine Windows OS as a reward for their co-operation in fighting piracy.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
10 Dec 2011   #6
Microsoft MVP

Vista, Windows7, Mint Mate, Zorin, Windows 8

I think you are stuck. Cut your losses and buy a new legal Win7 . Maybe even an OEM or upgrade version. They are cheaper. Sorry for the bad news.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
10 Dec 2011   #7

Windows 7x64 Home Premium SP1

The MS upgrade pack assumes you are upgrading from legal copies of Vista or XP.
You need the product key on a COA sticker to do a clean instal.
If you bought a secondhand Dell with Factory Restore DVDs and they work then I would think that was legal.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
14 Dec 2011   #8

Win 7 Ultimate 64-bit

Thanks for all the replies and fortunately I have indeed installed on a Dell, purely coincidentally, and it seems the generic key is sufficient - at least, it hasn't stopped working and it's now several days after the alleged Activation deadline, so fingers crossed :)
My System SpecsSystem Spec
14 Dec 2011   #9
Microsoft MVP


What does it say at Control Panel>System activation link?

If it says Activate Now then you'll need to provide the key or it will start losing functionality.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
15 Dec 2011   #10

MS Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit SP1

You were lucky to use the Dell reinstallation DVD on a Dell computer, as a Dell DVD may not work on other makes of computer.

What was the earlier OS on your Dell? Was it windows 7? Do you have a COA sticker on the system?
My System SpecsSystem Spec

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