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Windows 7: COA sticker rubbed out - need to activate but hard drive is toast

15 Nov 2013   #1

Windows 7
COA sticker rubbed out - need to activate but hard drive is toast

This is for a buddies laptop. I've attached the near dead hard drive and extracted, or tried to, the product key using Nuclear Coffee recovery keys but I'm pretty sure the key its brought up is the factory image key (my buddy tried a factory reset) not the proper COA one. (it didn't activate on a fresh install)

Does anyone has any experience with Microsoft activation support giving the COA over the phone? If they have a record of the COA on their system and my buddy can prove he owns the laptop and sends them a picture of the COA sticker that is rubbed out......

Its such a dumb idea for these COA stickers to be on the bottom of a laptop where after a few years use the are going to rub off. If Microsoft dont help him out I'm tempted to tell him to install a hooky copy

My System SpecsSystem Spec
15 Nov 2013   #2
Microsoft MVP

Vista, Windows7, Mint Mate, Zorin, Windows 8

1. If this is a system that was originally installed by the manufacturer, then the key that is in the system is a generic OEM key that is no good for a reinstallation.

2. Microsoft has no track record of the COA keys. Those are different for each PC and specific for that PC. The manufacturer gives that out.

3. Your best option now is to ask the manufacturer of the PC to send you an installation disc. They usually charge $20 for that.

4. A 'hooky' copy is not an option. That will give you nothing but trouble. If #3 is not possible, I would install Linux Mint Mate. That is a fine easy to use system and it is for free.

If you download this PDF from my Skydrive, you find the controls for 7 video tutorials on how to setup Mint Mate.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
15 Nov 2013   #3

Multi-Boot W7_Pro_x64 W8.1_Pro_x64 W10_Pro_x64 +Linux_VMs +Chromium_VM

Some people have been able to recover a worn product key by scanning or a picture, and then using a program.
If you're interested in trying this, take a look at this thread:
Recovering Windows Product Key
My System SpecsSystem Spec

15 Nov 2013   #4

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient


You can order the Microsoft official OEM Recovery disks from the OEM manufacturer's website.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
16 Nov 2013   #5

Windows 7

thanks folks.
My buddy called Microsoft (we are in the UK) and spoke to a "nice and helpful lady" late Friday night. She gave him the impression that an emailed scan/picture of the worn sticker will be enough for them to retrieve the key.........wont find out till Monday now though.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
16 Nov 2013   #6

Multi-Boot W7_Pro_x64 W8.1_Pro_x64 W10_Pro_x64 +Linux_VMs +Chromium_VM

Hello beastman,

Thanks for posting back with that info and good luck with getting the key.
Let us know how it works out.
The advantage to having the COA key is it allows doing a clean re-install without all the OEM bloatware.
A factory recovery includes all the bloatware.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
16 Nov 2013   #7

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Win 7 x64 Home Premium (and x86 VirtualBox VM)/Win10

Here's my standard spiel on this subject (ignore the first few options)

Your problem is that for some reason, the system is unable to properly read the SLIC table in the BIOS, which is required to be able to self-activate the OEM_SLP Key with which the computer came installed.

The normal solution is to change the Key to the one on your COA sticker - but you say that you are unable to read the Key there.

In such circumstances, the only things you can do are

1) recreate the Licensing Store - in case it's a minor software problem causing the misread
2) try updating the BIOS to the latest available Vista-compliant one, from the manufacturer's website
3) Contact the manufacturer direct, and see if they can provide assistance to correct the SLIC table
4) a reformat and reinstall using the manufacturer's recovery media
5) purchase a new license for Windows (or a new computer)

There *may* be an alternative solution though, if you are patient and persistent.
Attempt Telephone Activation, and speak to an operator - they will tell you that your current Key is blocked (they should then ask for confirmation of your Product Key). Explain to them your problem, that you need to change the Key to the one on your sticker, but that the sticker is unreadable (could they please supply a replacement Key?). Hopefully they will ask for documentary proof of the sticker, in the form of an email with a picture of the affected sticker - and you can proceed from there.
Sometimes it takes two or three calls before you get an operator who actually knows and uses this procedure - but I know that it can and does happen.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
16 Nov 2013   #8
Lady Fitzgerald

Win 7 Ultimate 64 bit

I've been telling myself for some time to write down the key from the COA on my notebook before the sticker could wear out but have been too lazy to dig the thing out (and, of course, I never remember to deal with it when I do have the thing out) and deal with reading those tiny characters (old age is for the birds!) until I saw the references here to taking a picture of the COA sticker. So, I dug out the notebook and took a couple of pictures of the COA sticker while it still doesn't show signs of wear and saved the best one to my desktop computer. After I had put the notebook away, I remembered I protect labels and laminate 3x5 cards I've printed by covering them with heavy clear packing tape. Of course, it would have been entirely too practical and sensible for me to have remembered that before I put the thing away so I got to dig it out again (I keep it in a travel sleeve literally stuffed in a drawer under my bed) and covered the sticker with a piece of packing tape so the sticker will be far less likely to ever wear out. It may a belt and suspenders approach to the problem but I'm paranoid.

Thanks, you all, for initiating the thought process.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
16 Nov 2013   #9

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Win 7 x64 Home Premium (and x86 VirtualBox VM)/Win10

LOL! Glad to have prodded anyhting
My System SpecsSystem Spec
16 Nov 2013   #10

Microsoft Community Contributor Award Recipient

Vista x64 / 7 X64

I have heard before that if you send a scan of the worn out coa sticker to MS, they will accept that and issue a replacement key. The OP in this case seems to have to been told the same by MS, so I expect it is standard practice.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 COA sticker rubbed out - need to activate but hard drive is toast

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