How can I use my product key to validate W7 on a replacement HDD?
February 21, 2013 5:06 PM   Subscribe

How can I use my product key to validate W7 on a replacement HDD? I need W7 for work.

- An HDD failed on a laptop.
- I bought a new one, and wanted to use my existing W7 Home product key to install W7 Home.
- I did not have a back disk for my old HDD (I am Very Bad, I know) or W7 install disks
- So, I attempted to download the W7 ISO from Microsoft, and burn it onto a DVD-R.
- For whatever reason, I could not burn the ISO onto a DVD-R (it got 99% of the way before failing)
- A coworker lent me a W7 Professional Upgrade disk
- I used the W7P upgrade disk to install W7

However, now I have W7 Professional on the HDD (it's a laptop), and I cannot figure out how to validate it.

My coworker gave me the product key for the Upgrade disk (we're contractors and provide our own equipment; this is to be a work computer), but I could not verify using that code because the original build was Windows 7 Home.

- I tried upgrading using the code, but that failed.
- I tried using my original W7 product key associated with the laptop and the original HDD, but I get a prompt to go into Windows Setup.
- Googling (actually, I was using Bing) "Windows Setup" provides no answers.

I'm wondering what to do now.

In an ideal world, I would have had a W7 Home install disk, and would have used my existing W7 Home product key to install Windows.

But now I'm stuck with an OS that is only good for 30 days. Do I remove it? How do you remove an OS like W7? Is there an easy way around this?
posted by KokuRyu to Computers & Internet (15 answers total)
 
I should say that I bought a replacement HDD.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:06 PM on February 21, 2013


Use a different (known good) DVD burner and download/burn a copy of the official Windows 7 Home ISO image (probably a DigitalRiver link where you found the link to the W7 Pro ISO).

Do exactly what you did to install Win7 Pro and then activate the Home version with your Home product key. There's no technical obstacle to this approach.

Do be sure to copy to e.g. a thumb drive any personal files you have on the Windows 7 Pro install that you will need later, and do this BEFORE getting started on the install process.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 5:14 PM on February 21, 2013


Thank you! What do I do about the version of W7 that is on the disk right now?
posted by KokuRyu at 5:19 PM on February 21, 2013


You don't have to do anything about it - the new install will overwrite it. If you are prompted to delete a partition, format the disk, or anything similar during installation, it is fine to select "Yes".
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 5:30 PM on February 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was in your shoes last week. The official answer is to reinstall the os using the upgrade disk. The second install will then be 'upgrading' your first install.
posted by lester's sock puppet at 6:10 PM on February 21, 2013


The official answer is to reinstall the os using the upgrade disk. The second install will then be 'upgrading' your first install.

If he had installed Win7 Home from an update disk, sure. The problem is that the installed copy is Win7 Pro and he only has a Win7 Home key, so he will need to start fresh with Win7 Home.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 6:16 PM on February 21, 2013


The official line on this, as far as I know, is that the OEM Windows licence that came with your computer covers only the exact Windows installation supplied with that computer, and that the only media you're allowed to use to rebuild that installation in case of computer failure must be whatever is supplied by your system builder.

Even if you were to download a retail edition of Windows 7 Home from Microsoft, as opposed to the Pro edition you've currently got your hands on, its installer would not accept the Windows 7 Home OEM product key from the sticker on your PC.

What you're supposed to do in cases like this is contact your system builder and ask for reinstallation media for your particular computer model. If for whatever reason that's not going to work for you, then what you can probably get away with instead is learning how to make a clean SLP reinstallation image from whatever materials you have on hand.

Read this, then this.
posted by flabdablet at 6:55 PM on February 21, 2013


I think it worked. I used a slightly newer machine to burn an ISO onto DVD, and reinstalled W7 Home Premium.

It prompted me for a product key, which I entered (found on the back of the machine). However, I realized it was probably meaningless, since the computer was not connected to the internet (I had to reinstall the network adapter driver).

Once I connected to the internet, I decided to "Activate Windows" to see if the product key worked. Windows said the product key was invalid, but allowed me to phone in to activate Windows, which I did.

So I received an "Activation was successful" dialog. Which I guess means W7 is now good to go.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:46 PM on February 21, 2013


Yes, what you did was correct; you should be good to go now. If anyone else ever has this same problem, yet you're not able to activate via the internet, you can contact Microsoft's Activation Center by phone. I've always found them very easy to deal with -- and fast, compared to most other companies who utilize product activation.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 8:20 PM on February 21, 2013


So far so good. The only strange thing is that the official link for Microsoft Security Essentials is not working (across all of my different computers), so I've installed Avast.

With none of the OEM bundled software and a new HDD, the laptop runs noticeably faster than before, and restarting takes a lot less time.

For others who may read this in the future, a challenge was connecting to the Internet - W7 did not recognize the internet adapter, so I had to download a driver on a separate machine (it would have recognized the adapter if the adapter had been able to connect to the Internet), and during a second or third restart as part of the install process, W7 automatically installed or updated all of the various hardware drivers, notable for the HD graphics card (the resolution looked alarmingly horrible at first, especially since IE7 was the default browser).
posted by KokuRyu at 8:49 PM on February 21, 2013


Oh, yeah, W7 didn't recognize the USB ports initially, so I had to load the internet adapter onto an SD card. That worked.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:55 PM on February 21, 2013


There's a problem with some of the servers for Microsoft Security Essentials right now, but here's one that still seems to work.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 9:05 PM on February 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


For what it's worth, the free version of Panda Cloud Antivirus kills about as much malware as Avast, needs less space and CPU, doesn't pop up every five minutes expecting to be congratulated for doing its job, and doesn't make you jump through pointless licence renewal hoops. Worth a look if you're starting fresh.
posted by flabdablet at 9:59 PM on February 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


Windows said the product key was invalid

That will be because you were using an OEM key with a retail Windows.

but allowed me to phone in to activate Windows, which I did.

Technically you're now in breach of the EULA you agreed to during Windows setup. However, given that Windows did activate successfully this is unlikely to cause you any grief.

Just out of interest: were you able to do your phone activation without human intervention, or did you need to explain your dead hard disk to a Microsoft call center drone and get issued with a new product key?
posted by flabdablet at 10:03 PM on February 21, 2013


Just out of interest: were you able to do your phone activation without human intervention, or did you need to explain your dead hard disk to a Microsoft call center drone and get issued with a new product key?

I was wondering about the logic of that too (and wondering the entire time if I would hit another brick wall and have to figure out something else).

The "Activate Windows" screen/window/whatever (which, for those of you reading this in the far future, I found by searching for "Activate") actually gave me a local (Canada) toll-free number to call.

A voice-dial system did the rest - no human intervention whatsoever. The local "Activate Windows" screen provides a long hash, which I had to painstakingly input via dial-tone, and then the automated voice on the phone gave me another long hash to input locally. And that was it.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:03 PM on February 21, 2013


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