Monday, 20 February 2012

Installing Windows 7 OEM without disks (2)

I previously posted a half-useful rant that claimed to resolve the issue of installing Windows 7 from scratch with an OEM product key. My previous solution, which boiled down to activating via phone, stopped working and I've since found a better solution. It sounds stupid, actually. Basically, it turns my laptop has a sticker with a W7 product key on it and, with that, it activated perfectly normally by connecting to Microsoft over the internet. So if you're trying to re-install W7 from the official ISO images, take a good look around your laptop for a sticker with a product key, particularly if your copy of Windows appears to be registered with the OEM key.

There are a few oddities about this sticker, though. First, the sticker's product key isn't the same as the OEM product key. That is, it isn't the same as the Dell product key that you can find online or the product key that the Windows registry had when I first turned on the laptop or restore factory settings. Second, no-one at Dell technical support thought to mention the sticker when I phoned them and told them that I was re-installing W7 from scratch and the OEM key wasn't working.

Third, the sticker is under the battery.

Looking for your product key? Don't expect it to be easy. Mine is under the battery. (It's the blurred Microsoft tag right of the centre.)
Yes, that's right, I had to remove the battery to find it. I only looked there because I happened to look at the comments to a Lifehacker post with the links to the W7 ISOs.

So when I say take a good look around your laptop, I mean take a good look around your laptop. Let me know in the comments if you've also found a secret sticker...


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