Friday, February 25, 2011

Different ways to activate an OEM copy of windows 7

I decided to write on this for my first post since almost all of us use windows and at some point of time need to reinstall it due to a variety of reasons. Be it a severe virus infection, a hard drive failure, a program installation gone awry, remove bloat that comes with OEM installations of windows or just for the sake of it sometimes because we feels its been too long since we did it.
Windows 7

If you are using a laptop or you are using a Branded PC from a big manufacturer like DELL, Sony, HP or Lenovo then chances are that it came preinstalled with a version of Windows 7. One thing to note here is that the Product Key which is there on the COA sticker on your computer is an OEM product key. This license is valid for installation only on that computer. Another thing to note here is that if you use a product key sniffing program like Speccy, you’ll notice that the product key on the sticker and the one used for installation is different. Here I am going to explain 2 ways to activate an OEM copy.

Its not possible for big manufacturer to manually activate every copy of windows. So microsoft provides them with special OEM keys known as OEM SLP keys which can be used for offline activation. The BIOS on there computers have a special string known as SLIC embedded in them. So when a copy of windows is installed with a SLP key and a certificate file, it looks for this SLIC chart in BIOS and activates it automatically without going online. The certificate file is a xrm-ms file which is unique for a manufacturer and is coupled with the SLIC chart in the BIOS.

While doing a fresh installation on these machines there are two ways to go about activation.

1. Using the product key on the COA sticker – I am not going to write about how to install windows in general, but when prompted to enter a product key during installation, you need to enter the key on the COA sticker. You need either a OEM Channel installation media or a disk which can install any version of windows. A disk specifically made for the Retail Channel will not accept a OEM product key so be careful. After installation has completed and you are on the desktop. Follow these steps
  • Go to start, type slui.exe 4 and press enter.
  • Select your nearest country from the dropdown for a toll-free microsoft helpline number.
  • Call that number and follow the prompts to activate windows by phone.
  • This OEM key can not be automatically activated by the IVRS system and you need to talk to a live representative for this. If it gives you the option to directly talking to a live rep then go for that, otherwise go ahead with the automated system, after it fails it will automatically transfer your call to a live representative.
  • You will need to provide them with your installation ID which appears on the activation wizard and they will provide you with a confirmation ID after that which you need to enter into the wizard.
Phone Activation 1
  • It will show you message that activation was successful.
2. Backing up your OEM SLP Activation data and restore it on your new installation – This is the easier of the two options since it does not require you to call microsoft and can be done offline any time. You need to backup your activation data from your current windows installation before you can go ahead. Follow these steps. This method only works if your motherboard BIOS has the OEM SLIC chart.
  • You need to download a program called ‘Activation Backup & Restore beta’. The beta is made for windows 7 and can be found here.
  • Running the exe will create a folder with two more exe file along with a readme file. You need to run activation_backup.exe on your old installation with admin rights. This will backup your product key (which is different from the one found on the COA sticker) and the certificate file with .xrm-ms extension. Save this folder in some external drive like a external HD or a pen drive.
  • Now go ahead and install windows. Do not enter a product Key during installation unlike method 1.
  • After installation has completed, open the saved folder and run activation_restore.exe with admin rights. It will take a little time and activation should have been restored.
  • After the process has completed, restart windows and check if windows is activated.
  1. The Product Key on the COA sticker for PC which comes preinstalled with windows can not be used for online activation or by the Automated process on phone.
  2. This same process also works for Windows Vista OEM Licences.
I hope my first post was helpful.


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