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Windows 7: Re-installation & activation key swap-out

29 Nov 2009   #1

Re-installation & activation key swap-out

When I first whacked on W7 i was using a retail disk, and never did get the AHCI quite right, plus there were a couple of generic drivers which were loaded by W7 setup that proved to be incorrect.

Very soon I plan to reinstall. However I've come into possession of a family upgrade pack with one spare licence on it, and plan to use that.

What I don't want to do is install twice (as with upgrades is necessary if performing custom installation where the primary disk is formatted, otherwise activation fails).

My thinking was to install using the retail disk. Activate with the retail keycode, post installation, but then change the key to the spare family pack licence I have, and to liberate my retail disks activation code once more.

Anyone else done this?

PS; The W7 machine isn't my main computer - yet...

My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 Nov 2009   #2


Boot from the Win7 family Upgrade DVD, it will scan the HD and see the previous OS which is all it needs to accept key.

You can then delete and format the drive using Custom>Advanced drive tools.

It will def activate.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 Nov 2009   #3


Thanks, I realise that, but must complete a clean installation with a full disk format, and was just trying to save time - I realise a custom install with the family pack disk will need to be done twice to succeed to activation.

Hence the notion of using the retail disk and then swapping the key post activation.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

29 Nov 2009   #4


You do not have to double install or use registry workaround to boot an Upgrade DVD to Custom install with formatting, the cleanest possible install.

Any Win7 installation you have on the HD now will be scanned before formatting the drive and pass a flag to allow the Upgrade key to be accepted.

You wouldn't have to do a double install even if you used a new or pre-formatted HD as there is a registry fix given out by MS which replicates the activation flag being passed; see Option 3 here: Clean Install with a Upgrade Windows 7 Version
My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 Nov 2009   #5


Quote   Quote: Originally Posted by gregrocker View Post
You do not have to double install or use registry workaround to boot an Upgrade DVD and Custom install with formatting.

The Win7 installation you have on the HD now will be scanned before formatting the drive and pass a flag to allow the Upgrade key to be accepted.
+1. Been there, done that.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 Nov 2009   #6


I've used the family pack upgrades on two other machines, performing a customised installation and formatting the primary disks in the process.

Not using any workarounds of any kind, including registry hacks, I'm sorry to report that under no circustances would W7 activate without running setup twice!

It's of no real matter, if I just use the upgrade disk and have to run setup twice (first a custom install, and then an upgrade over that) then it just means devoting more time to the installation than using the retail disk and keyswapping afterwards.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 Nov 2009   #7


Yes, you have to make a minor change to the registry. Read Microsoft confirms Windows 7 install trick is legal and click the link to the original story. More info also here.

Extract from the latter article:
Today, Thurrott spelled out how to conduct a clean install using a Windows 7 upgrade license. The process requires users to install but not activate Windows 7 with the accompanying product key. After the installation is completed, users must make a minor change to the Windows registry, use the Windows "rearm" command, then reboot.
"When Windows 7 reboots, run the Activate Windows utility, type in your product key and activate Windows," Thurrott said. "Voila!"
My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 Nov 2009   #8


I've never trusted the likes of Paul Thurrott (and folks like Steve Gibson come to that LOL, they often have nothing but hot air to spout...) but you're advocating using the rearm command (which isn't a registry hack, no?) you just open a command prompt, once W7 reaches it's desktop for the first time, and enter:-

sysprep /generalize
slmgr.vbs –rearm
rundll32 slc.dll,SLReArmWindows
slmgr /rearm

Or am I grasping the wrong end of the stick?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 Nov 2009   #9



You asked about clean installing an Upgrade without having to do the double-install.

I showed you that you can boot from the DVD (to get the cleanest possible format install) and it will read the previous Win7 OS on the HD and allow you to insert the activation key.

This means you can do a formatted Upgrade without having to do the double install.

I also showed you how you can install the Upgrade to a brand new or pre-formatted HD without having to do the double install, using a registry workaround which is even offered by MS tech support.

This registry workaround has nothing to do with the re-arm command.

Let me know if this is somehow still unclear and I will try to rephrase it again.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
29 Nov 2009   #10


All those who have been reading my posts know how anti-piratism I am. I do not accept any illegal hacks or cracks, nor have I any illegal or hacked / cracked software installed on any of my or my company's computers. I refuse to serve customers who are using illegal copies of OS's and applications if they are not willing to migrate to fully legal setup.

That said, yes, I am advocating this trick as long as Microsoft do not change their policy i.e. as long as I with good and clear conscience believe it is legal.

Gregrocker wrote earlier in that thread I gave link in my last post: In order to use upgrade media to install Windows 7 on a blank hard drive, users must abide by the operating system's EULA, or end-user licensing agreement.

That was and still is the whole thing in a nutshell. In my opinion, it all comes down to this extract from the EULA:
To use upgrade software, you must first be licensed for the software that is eligible for the upgrade. After you upgrade, you may no longer use the software you upgraded from.
I see this paragraph leaves it to you to decide if you are honest or not. Do you have a copy of Windows that entitles you for the upgrade? Are you sure you understand you after upgrade are no longer allowed to use the former OS?

One more quote from this Computerworld's article:
Some users commenting on Thurrott's blog reported that they were able to do a clean install using a Windows 7 upgrade key without resorting to his registry hack and the rearm command. Thurrott, however, was skeptical.

"It certainly doesn't hurt to try this, but my guess is that there was a version of Windows on the hard drive that Setup detected, thus making the install and activation work properly," he said.

P.S. IMO, rearm is a registry hack. It changes certain information located in registry.
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 Re-installation & activation key swap-out

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