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  • Has anyone else had a Windows 7 Pro license deactivated randomly?

    Posted on GreatAndPowerfulTech Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Home Forums AskWoody support Windows Windows 7 Questions: Windows 7 Has anyone else had a Windows 7 Pro license deactivated randomly?

    This topic contains 53 replies, has 12 voices, and was last updated by  mn– 2 months, 2 weeks ago.

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    • #1737543 Reply

      GreatAndPowerfulTech
      AskWoody Lounger

      I’ve had Windows 7 Pro on one of my PC’s for six years. Today, it told me my key was not valid. It has been for six years. So, I called MS Activation Center, which can be a tedious thing to do. I entered the Installation ID, then was told “verified!”. Well, if it’s verified why was it deactivated in the first place? Since it was a robot, there was no point in asking any questions. I then entered the confirmation ID and was re-activated. What is the chance that when support for Windows 7 fully ends that an event like this will leave a user with no option to re-activate? This seems suspicious to me.

       

      Windows-7-Pro-suddenly-deactivated-redacted-5-23-19

      GreatAndPowerfulTech

      • This topic was modified 2 months, 4 weeks ago by  PKCano.
      • This topic was modified 2 months, 4 weeks ago by  GreatAndPowerfulTech. Reason: Punctuation
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    • #1739019 Reply

      OscarCP
      AskWoody Plus

      GAPT: You have made, in my opinion, a good and rather alarming point here. Our best hope for the future past next January, I think, is that, after EOL, Windows 7 is no longer going to be checked to see if it has a valid registration. Can’t imagine why MS would still bother to do that past that point. But then again…

      • This reply was modified 2 months, 4 weeks ago by  OscarCP.
      1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #1739057 Reply

        Cybertooth
        AskWoody Lounger

        I have some (possibly) good news in this respect. A few days ago I put into service a Vista for Business x32 system (don’t ask 🙂 ). Some time after the installation process was complete and I was busy getting Vista up to date, suddenly a license validation window popped up. This happened even though I had already entered the same license key during installation.

        I had the exact same fear that you’ve expressed, that Microsoft might not be accepting new installations of an EOS operating system. But I hung in there, entered the key again, had MS phone me to get some kind of code, entered that… and eventually everything came up roses and I had a spanking new Vista  system!

        That’s not to say they won’t get real aggressive in the future as they try to stamp out Windows 7, but at least there is no history (that I know of) of them refusing to accept new installations for out-of-support OSes.

         

        3 users thanked author for this post.
    • #1739195 Reply

      DrBonzo
      AskWoody Lounger

      I wonder if any of the issues discussed here are relevant?

      Why KB971033 should be uninstalled and hidden on Windows 7

      Or perhaps here:

      Report of KB 4038777 breaking activation on Dell machines

      3 users thanked author for this post.
    • #1742160 Reply

      OscarCP
      AskWoody Plus

      I have used my Windows 7 Pro SP1 before off-line, disconnected from the Internet, and therefore without the ability, at start up, to call back and check with the MS servers to see if my copy of Windows is legit or not. That, so far, has never stopped the machine from working properly. So, now that I have Linux in dual boot with Windows and can move files I download from Linux to Windows, my guess is that using exclusively  the Linux side to access the Web and email might also work into the future, particularly after next January.

      The problem with that would be when there are updates to some application software, drivers and such for Win 7, that I need to install. Or when MS releases an update for Windows 7 as it does, now and then, for XP.

      The idea of phoning MS for any reason at all is not one that sits lightly on my mind. So I would be interested to know what others here might think of my likely approach to the issue being discussed.

       

      • #1742317 Reply

        Cybertooth
        AskWoody Lounger

        So, now that I have Linux in dual boot with Windows and can move files I download from Linux to Windows, my guess is that using exclusively the Linux side to access the Web and email might also work into the future, particularly after next January.

        Hi @oscarcp, maybe I misunderstood what you wrote there, but if you don’t plan on having Windows 7 go online, it seems to me that you’ll really have very little need to update anything on it, no?

        • #1742434 Reply

          OscarCP
          AskWoody Plus

          Good point, but I am leaving open the possibility that there might be something that needs updating, or looks like it is a good idea to update, because either the installed version breaks down, somehow, and needs to be replaced, or some must-have improvement occurs, and  that means downloading and installing. Or one those occasional Windows updates comes out that MS might offer after EOL , same as it has been doing for XP, as I mentioned, if they seem to be safe and useful enough. Taking care of those things might also require installing new drivers.

          Or I might keep Windows 7 in a perpetual reclusive mode until software rot and general old-age decrepitude finally ends it all. That is one thing I am trying to figure out.

          2 users thanked author for this post.
          • #1742706 Reply

            Cybertooth
            AskWoody Lounger

            Here’s a possible approach in light of the scenarios that you listed:

            For driver updates, you’re generally better off getting them from the manufacturer than from Microsoft. The same goes for important improvements for third-party applications: you’ll be getting those from them and not from MS. So in both of these cases you won’t be dealing with Windows licensing/activation issues, since MS is out of the loop. You might even be able to download drivers etc. via your Linux machine and then copy them over to the Windows partition for installation.

            Against the possibility of your Windows installation breaking down, you can make frequent image backups of the Windows partition so that you can slide the latest one in as a full replacement for the broken-down Windows installation.

            And in terms of improvements to Windows itself, when it comes to Windows 7 you won’t be dealing with those because Win7 is in “extended support,” meaning no new features, only security fixes. And even the security fixes are coming to a stop after January 2020.

            In all of these cases, it looks like deactivation of your Windows 7 key may not be much of an inconvenience even if it occurs. (Anybody reading this who knows otherwise, please do correct me.)

            The only concern I have about an always-offline Windows system is if you were to receive or download an infected file on your Linux system that you then copied over to the Windows side and tried to open. Because your Windows OS would be offline, it would not be getting up-to-date malware protection, so it wouldn’t be protected against hidden malware scrambling your files. Then again, frequent image backups would mitigate that possibility: you could nuke the infected partition and replace it with a backup.

             

            2 users thanked author for this post.
    • #1742769 Reply

      OscarCP
      AskWoody Plus

      Cybertooth,

      I have been thinking along those lines you describe, to some extent. I might even take the PC life in my hands and connect maybe once a week to the internet precisely to update the AV (for as long as I can get AV support for Windows 7, with the current one or a new one.)

      But  have a question about this that you also wrote: ” So in both of these cases [drivers and 3rd-party application updates] you won’t be dealing with Windows licensing/activation issues, since MS is out of the loop.

      I had thought that the licensing/activation check happens every time one turns the machine on and starts running Windows. From what you wrote, it looks I might need to get better informed about that. Unless there is a way to prevent MS from checking on the PC without preventing it from working and connecting to the Internet. DrBonzo as pointed out here to what might be one way to do that.

      • #1743144 Reply

        Cybertooth
        AskWoody Lounger

        Hi @oscarcp,

        We both learned something tonight. I didn’t think that, under normal circumstances, Windows would suddenly go looking for a valid product key, but believed instead that a valid product key was necessary in order to install regular Windows updates. From what I’ve seen while looking this up, it looks like my impressions were correct in the first case but wrong in the second.

        Here’s what Wikipedia says about it:

        In Windows Vista SP1, Windows Vista SP2, Windows 7, Windows Server 2008, and Windows Server 2008 R2, after a grace period of 30 days (60 days for Windows Server 2008), the operating system will add a text message in the bottom-right hand corner of the screen stating that the copy of Windows in question is not valid, set the desktop background to black, allow only critical and security updates to be downloaded from Windows Update and give periodic reminders to activate the operating system. However, the operating system otherwise functions normally.

        And Chris Hoffman of HowToGeek.com specifies that

        Windows Activation, introduced in Windows XP, checks in with Microsoft when you install Windows or get a new Windows PC…

        In other words, nothing about sudden validation checks. The license police will not flag you down to demand that you show “your papers, please.”

        Hoffman adds that the activation process is also triggered when you move your existing Windows to a new computer, as well as when you make certain changes to the same PC’s hardware:

        “Significant” hardware changes can also trigger the Windows activation process again. For example, if you swap out multiple components on your PC at the same time, you may have to go through the activation process. Microsoft hasn’t explained exactly which hardware changes will trigger this.

        Hope this helps!

         

        1 user thanked author for this post.
        • #1743324 Reply

          OscarCP
          AskWoody Plus

          Cybertooth: Yes, I think this helps, at least in my case, because there are no hardware changes I will ever make, unless something breaks down and has to be fixed or replaced by the same product, as long as this is available; otherwise, of course: curtains. I would guess that if I were to have to replace the battery with one of the same make and model, for example, as I did already without the license police asking for my papers, the same thing would happen if I did this a second time. So things are starting to look a bit more hopeful after this exchange, I think.

    • #1743614 Reply

      DrBonzo
      AskWoody Lounger

      I’ve been concerned that when end of support for Win 7 comes along in January 2020, that MS will suddenly demand activation and/or validation key and/or some other proof of having a legal copy of Win 7. It sounds, though, from the above discussion that MS won’t do that, or even if they do, that normal Win 7 functionality will be maintained.

      Also, I’ve been under the impression that activation/validation takes place online, so that if you keep the computer from connecting to the internet the activation/validation becomes a moot point.

      I need Win 7 to keep working after January 2020 but I intend to take it offline permanently after that.

      So, I’m curious, does anyone agree or disagree with my assessments above?

      1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #1744280 Reply

        Cybertooth
        AskWoody Lounger

        @drbonzo, I concur with what you wrote above. As far as I know, license validation requires connecting to a Microsoft server and Windows won’t decide that it’s “not genuine” just because it can’t connect to the Internet to perform the check.

        We can’t be sure what policies MS will adopt in the future, but if the past is any indication then you should be able to keep running Windows 7 the way you plan to, for years to come.

         

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        • #1744756 Reply

          DrBonzo
          AskWoody Lounger

          Thanks @cybertooth – I hope we’re both right! My old Vista laptop (since converted over to Ubuntu 16.04) continued to run as usual with no interference from MS after it’s end of life so I’m hoping Windows 7 will be the same. On the other hand, being one of those people who suddenly found their Win 7 machine downloading and installing Win 10 without my permission, I don’t trust MS at all. I’m afraid they might start playing games with Win 7 activation hoping they can pressure people into Win 10. Paranoid perhaps, but IMHO their policies can be misleading sometimes.

          This is not intended as a rant, just my position statement on what I suspect may be an issue on more minds than just mine.

          3 users thanked author for this post.
    • #1744848 Reply

      OscarCP
      AskWoody Plus

      Cybertooth and DrBonzo: So my own conclusion from this informative exchange is: as long as one does not change one physical piece of equipment too far, re-installs Windows 7, or makes some other major changes to installed MS software, one’s PC is safe as houses (am I missing  some other No-No here?). Unless, of course, after January next year, if not sooner, MS decides to send in the licensing police one night to kick down one’s front door, invade one’s bedroom and demand one’s papers while shining a very bright flashlight in one’s eyes.

      Because they can.

      Hmmm… now, where did I put that valium?

      2 users thanked author for this post.
      • #1744975 Reply

        Cybertooth
        AskWoody Lounger

        @oscarcp, that’s right, we the unwashed don’t know what the Lords of Redmond may have in store for us come 2020, but based on past experience, you should be all right.

        I’ve swapped out graphics cards, memory sticks, even OS drives without ever needing to run through the activation rigamarole. One time I even had to reinstall Vista on my laptop from scratch, using a set of recovery DVDs, and activation never (visibly) came up.

         

        2 users thanked author for this post.
    • #1744852 Reply

      Microfix
      Da Boss

      ok folks, I’m dropping a hint/nudge here and directing you to this link which can save you headaches in the future and possibly into and beyond 2020 😉

      Woody this might be handy for you too lol, 1st rule in computing….
      #238395

      – ”fix

      ********** Win7 x64/x86 | Win8.1 x64 | Linux Hybrids x64 **********

      3 users thanked author for this post.
      • #1744862 Reply

        OscarCP
        AskWoody Plus

        Oh, and a really big THANK YOU for that link, Microfix!

        I should have been told that in school! Everybody should have been told!

        OK, so now it really doesn’t matter anymore if I cannot find that valium. Er, it does not matter anymore… right?

        Now that I think about it, I can only remember the second and third rules of computing. Old age, you know… So, what was the first one, again?

        • #1744883 Reply

          Microfix
          Da Boss

          So, what was the first one, again?

          the same as the second and third..backup, backup and backup!

          ********** Win7 x64/x86 | Win8.1 x64 | Linux Hybrids x64 **********

          1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #1745014 Reply

      OscarCP
      AskWoody Plus

      But, for all the reassurances so far that this mishap won’t happen if one does not do certain things, or does do some others instead, the original entry we are replying to here, by GreatAndPowerfulTech, as I read it, means, in short, that GAPT did nothing special and still, after six years, the fateful notice that the PC’s Windows 7 was an illegal popped up in the PC’s screen and a long and rather unpleasant procedure was needed to restore order and harmony between GAPT’s PC and the MS’ robot. If my reading is the correct one, then the licensing police might still come in these days and without warning, warrant, or even a particular reason, whatever we do, or don’t.

      Now, as to that valium..

      • #1745157 Reply

        Cybertooth
        AskWoody Lounger

        Without going into troubleshooting and diagnostics, we can’t say for sure what led to GAPT’s Windows installation suddenly being considered “not genuine.” File corruption? Disk error? Software bug? There’s any number of legitimate (as well as, sadly, of illegitimate) reasons that this could happen.

        GAPT asked specifically,

        What is the chance that when support for Windows 7 fully ends that an event like this will leave a user with no option to re-activate?

        and my answer (subject to revision based on new information) is that, based on historical experience, the chance of that happening is nil, at least for a period of years after Windows 7 goes EOS. I did qualify my answer on the possibility that Microsoft may get very aggressive about herding people onto Windows 10. However, we won’t know whether that will happen until and unless it does happen.

        But remember, as we read in the Wikipedia and How-To Geeks links above, even if one’s Windows 7 becomes non-genuine, it will continue to be usable. There is no time bomb that will make Win7 installations go kaplooey on a date certain… at least, that we know of.

        As people who read my posts here will know, I’m no fan of Microsoft or especially of Windows 10; but on this question, I’m taking an Alfred E. Neuman approach.  🙂

         

        • #1745289 Reply

          OscarCP
          AskWoody Plus

          Thanks, Cybertooth for you reassurances.

          Oh, hang on a minute… this question popped in my mind, just now: will the rogue pop up one should click off and ignore, if it ever shows up after EOL or even before that, telling one that is using an illegal (as in the case of GAPT, who has not elaborated on this particular detail I am about to describe — but has described the event as “random”, i.e. “out of the blue” or “for no known reason”), will this pop up, I repeat, keep on popping up every five minutes, making life while using the PC, well, more interesting?

          I hope that the recipe Microfix has brought to our attention takes care of that, otherwise…

          Huh! I’ve just found out that I am fresh out of Valium! Must go out and buy some more. I’ll be back.

          1 user thanked author for this post.
          • #1745616 Reply

            Cybertooth
            AskWoody Lounger

            @oscarcp, you asked:

            …will this pop up, I repeat, keep on popping up every five minutes, making life while using the PC, well, more interesting?

            According to the Wikipedia article linked to upthread,

            the operating system will add a text message in the bottom-right hand corner of the screen stating that the copy of Windows in question is not valid, set the desktop background to black, allow only critical and security updates to be downloaded from Windows Update and give periodic reminders to activate the operating system. However, the operating system otherwise functions normally.

            I think that paragraph was in the earlier referenced quote. So the answer is that no, there will be no constant nagging to make it difficult to work in Windows 7.

            As to how periodic those “periodic reminders” would be, the best I’ve been able to find is from this Microsoft page:

            Until you correct the issue, you’ll receive periodic reminders that Windows is not genuine. Your desktop may also turn black to emphasize the messages. You can reset it, but it will return to black every 60 minutes until the issue is resolved.

            Interestingly, if you read the bullet points just above that one in the Wikipedia article, it says that for a “failed activation” of Vista RTM they did disable some features and make some Windows Updates unavailable; while for XP, the OS would simply stop working altogether. The next bullet point states that for Windows 8/8.1 and 10, a watermark would show on the desktop and personalization features would be disabled, in addition to a full-screen notification interrupting every six hours.

             

            • #1745721 Reply

              OscarCP
              AskWoody Plus

              Cybertooth: I am back and have brought with me a fresh supply of Valium. Now I am glad I did, after reading the additional information you have found and passed on here.

              Let’s see: A tell-tale message permanently parked on my screen, on a black Desktop background (so, my lovingly chosen artistic wall paper replaced by a solid black one) to enhance the tell-tale message, personalization disabled, maybe a nag every few hours, no more non-critical updates (well… that last one is not so bad). Surprisingly, after reading all that I realize that am not entirely delighted. But there is this reassurance: “However, the operating system otherwise functions normally.” Otherwise!

              But, besides my renewed supply of Valium, I also have Carl D’s reasoned message that there is still hope.

              So: Thanks to all that have suggested several ways to keep the bad MS validation robo-wolf at bay. I entirely expect that at least one of those will work out for me. And for some others here, too. I hope this has also been of help to GAPT, that started this conversation.

    • #1745334 Reply

      Carl D
      AskWoody Lounger

      I’ve been using Advanced Tokens Manager for several years now to backup and restore my Windows 7 activation.

      https://www.majorgeeks.com/files/details/advanced_tokens_manager.html

      Never had a problem with it and it is probably a good way to restore activation if the MS activation servers “suddenly stop working” for W7 after January next year.

      Of course, I’m assuming if the PC hardware changes too much this method may not work and you can’t use the saved activation file to activate another completely different PC – in other words, Advanced Tokens Manager is completely legit and cannot be used for ‘piracy’, etc.

      Also, to avoid activation problems down the track, it has always been recommended never to install update KB971033.

      https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/971033/description-of-the-update-for-windows-activation-technologies

      A lot of people have had trouble with this update over the past few years, here’s a recent issue:

      https://www.ghacks.net/2019/01/10/kb971033-causing-activation-issues-on-windows-7-enterprise-pcs/

      I’m using Windows 10 1903 at the moment but I have my W7 activation saved in case I decide to go back to 7 at some time in the future.

      3 users thanked author for this post.
      • #1745409 Reply

        Carl D
        AskWoody Lounger

        Addition to my above post: I see KB971033 has already been mentioned. My apologies.

        (I would have edited my last post but the Edit option now seems to be unavailable).

      • #1764720 Reply

        Cybertooth
        AskWoody Lounger

        I just tried using that Advanced Tokens Manager on my Windows 7 tower. It gives a result for the Windows product key that’s different from what the Certificate of Authenticity sticker says on the PC’s case.

        Is the “new” product key also valid for this machine, does anybody know?

        The only difference in this computer between its current state and when it arrived from the factory, is that the SSD and HDD have been changed (the SSD when I bought a bigger one, and the HDD when the original one was failing). Could that somehow alter the product key???

         

        • This reply was modified 2 months, 3 weeks ago by  Cybertooth.
        1 user thanked author for this post.
        • #1764820 Reply

          PKCano
          Da Boss

          What I say here goes for older equipment where the product key is stored in the OS.

          If you cloned or imaged the original HDD, you should not have changed anything related to the product key. The original OEM product key would automatically activate on the same hardware, as a change in HDD/SSD does not invalidate it.

          Often, with a new computer, what’s attached to the original loadset is the factory (manufacturer’s) OEM product key b/c they use the same loadset (image) to provision many computers. This is not your product key. This is only good if you clone or image the computer, or do a Factory Restore from partition/disk.

          Your product key is the one on sticker attached to the computer. This is what you would use if you had to do a clean install not from the factory restore. So the two product keys can be different.

          I use Belarc Advisor. Usually in the printout it will give the product key along with “OEM” to let you know it’s the Original Equipment Manufacturer’s key. In that case, that is not the key you use on a non-factory-restore clean install. You would use the one on the sticker.

          3 users thanked author for this post.
          • #1764821 Reply

            geekdom
            AskWoody Plus

            I always had wondered about the difference in keys.

            Group G{ot backup} TestBeta
            Win7Pro·x64·SP1·Windows Firewall·i3-3220·Microsoft Security Essentials·HDD
          • #1764954 Reply

            jburk07
            AskWoody Plus

            @pkcano,

            Thanks so much for this very clear explanation.

            So for those of this in this situation, the keys generated by tools like ProduKey and Advanced Tokens Manager wouldn’t help if we ever had to call Microsoft. I have recorded my COA sticker key and stored it in different places in case I ever need it. And as you indicated, I haven’t had any trouble with Windows activation on new hard disks/SSDs so far using my Macrium system images and clones with the OEM key. I’ll also hold on to my hp Recovery disks in case I need to do a factory restore. It really helps to have a better grasp of the situation.

            Group A Win7 x64 Home Premium SP1 Ivy Bridge

            • This reply was modified 2 months, 3 weeks ago by  jburk07.
    • #1764946 Reply

      OscarCP
      AskWoody Plus

      Following PKCano’s suggestion, I first looked at the sticker, on the bottom of the box. Unfortunately, I bought my Windows 7 Pro, SP1, x64  machine in 2011, and by now much of the MS Product key has been eroded to the point of only the first and last five characters remain legible. So I downloaded and installed Belarc (free version) that gave me, as soon at installed and done scanning my system,  a very nice report on all important aspects — and on some less so — of my PC, including a Windows 7 Product Key.

      Unfortunately, again, this does not match the first five or the last five characters, the only two of the five groups of five still legible in the bottom sticker.

      This machine has never been refurbished, or had Windows reinstalled, or been in anybody’s hands, since it left HP’s (the OEM), other than my own. Never sent to a shop or back to HP for repairs. Only had, recently, the battery replaced with a new one of the same make and model.

      So, what’s the likely explanation for this key discrepancy?

      • #1764956 Reply

        jburk07
        AskWoody Plus

        @oscarcp,

        That’s what PK was explaining. The key that tools like Belarc, Produkey, and Advanced Tokens Manager can read is just the OEM key. That OEM key works for activation if you clone your hard drive or restore a system image, and it would work if your computer has a factory restore/recovery partition or if it has factory recovery disks (which you might have made when you first got the machine). If I understand correctly, only the COA sticker key would work if you had to call Microsoft for activation on a complete clean install with a Windows 7 disk.

        Group A Win7 x64 Home Premium SP1 Ivy Bridge

        1 user thanked author for this post.
        • #1765010 Reply

          OscarCP
          AskWoody Plus

          Thanks, but the issue of concern is what to do if I ever get a notice from the MS licensing robot that the Windows I have installed is not a legitimate version and deactivates it, with the unsavory consequences described here earlier by Cybertoooth. Then I’ll have to call MS on the phone, and I’ll have to give to them my Windows MS key, not the OEM’s, which is irrelevant to the question  considered in this thread.

          Whatever was found by Belarc when scanning my machine and then reported as the Windows 7, Pro x64 key is not the same as the one on the sticker, as far as I can see from what remains visible there. According to PK Cano (and what I have found out independently by looking up this on the Web) the number in the sticker, of the form xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx, is the Registration Key for the version of Windows installed on my machine. It should also be the key encrypted in the OS Registry, that Belarc is supposed to find, de-encrypt and include in its report.

          So I am still hoping for a relevant explanation an some practical advice on what this means and what to do about this.

    • #1765955 Reply

      GoneToPlaid
      AskWoody Plus

      Hi everyone,

      This web page describes three utilities which can backup or restore your Windows 7 activation:

      https://www.raymond.cc/blog/backup-and-restore-vista-oem-activation-license/

      Best regards,

      –GTP

       

      2 users thanked author for this post.
      • #1766175 Reply

        OscarCP
        AskWoody Plus

        Thanks, GTP, but I am still not entirely clear as to what the answer to my actual question actually is. Perhaps I am missing something here, but, rightly or not, this is how I see it:

        That article you gave the link to is about reinstalling and activating Windows 7 and Vista.

        I have Windows 7, but my concern is not about reinstalling Windows 7 with a fresh copy of it, as explained in the article, it is about what to do when the MS robot decides, incorrectly, that the copy of Windows installed in my machine, after years of running it without problems, is not a legitimate one.

        If the only way to get over this problem to call MS —  then what? I cannot read the MS product key in the sticker, because, by now, after years of using the PC, it has the three middle portions rubbed off to the point of being illegible. So I cannot provide that key. So the robot cannot release my operating system that has been “booted” by what Cybertooth has called “the licensing police.”.

        This, by the way, is a corollary of the actual problem discussed in this thread.

        So, still waiting for further clarification on how to solve this problem — if, indeed, it has a solution. As probably also could be GreatAndPowerfulTech, who started it.

        • #1766231 Reply

          anonymous

          @oscarcp

          In your case, go back and reread the description of option number 3, “Raymond.cc’s Windows 7 OEM License Installer” a little more carefully.

          The tool works only on Windows 7, NOT Vista and works on most all major pc makers’ machines, including your pc’s brand, HP.

          It’s made just for situations as your proposed one, where the machine needs to be activated for one reason or another, but the COA sticker can’t be read in its entirety, as you say that you can’t read the middle 3 groups of yours.

          1 user thanked author for this post.
          • #1766583 Reply

            OscarCP
            AskWoody Plus

            Anonymous #1766231  : ” In your case, go back and reread the description of option number 3,

            Thanks, I have downloaded the “Advanced Tokens Manager” installer mentioned there and might use it (it looks a little, well… illegal, somewhat).

            Also, some days ago, I removed KB971033. Interestingly, soon after that Windows Update announced that I had a new update waiting to be installed. I looked and… there it was KB971033! Not exactly new, but certainly waiting to be installed. I hid it.

            So now I am vaccinated against the validation bug, am I?

        • #1766236 Reply

          Cybertooth
          AskWoody Lounger

          @oscarcp, the article that GTP linked us to contains the answer to your question, at least by implication.

          You only need that CoA sticker if you’re doing a fresh install of Windows. But, as you have noted, this is not relevant to the scenario you describe since you would not be doing a clean install of Windows. Therefore, you should be able to use the “generic” OEM product key that these various programs will retrieve. Also, note that the article specifies that the programs it describes

          are ways to backup the OEM license key and certificate from a current Windows install and then transfer them onto a completely clean installation.

          Neither the RaymondCC article nor Microsoft’s rationale for having redundant product keys (the CoA and then also the OEM key) are a model of clarity. I prefer to have every scenario under consideration spelled out explicitly. But if I understand correctly what they’re saying, then it is not true that you need the CoA if you’re doing a fresh install, as you can utilize one of these programs to successfully use the OEM key.

          What I would do in your case is to retrieve the OEM key using one of those programs, store it in a safe place, and then enter it during the activation process if you should ever run into the situation that GAPT described. Unless Microsoft has by then decided to invalidate all Windows 7 licenses, or decommissioned its Win7 license servers in its ongoing push for Windows 10, you should be all right.

           

          • This reply was modified 2 months, 2 weeks ago by  Cybertooth.
          2 users thanked author for this post.
          • #1766306 Reply

            OscarCP
            AskWoody Plus

            Cybertooth,

            Thanks, I think I can go along with your explanation. The whole confusion here was caused by others stating, earlier on, that the key printed on the sticker was the one to used, but they did not mean it “in case one were to be detained and searched randomly by the Licensing Police”, which was relevant, but “after a clean install” , which it was not:

            For example, jburk07 stated correctly, but not on the actual topic: ” If I understand correctly, only the COA sticker key would work if you had to call Microsoft for activation on a complete clean install with a Windows 7 disk.”

            Now, why these two keys?  I think the one on the sticker is needed when first ever activating Windows 7 or Vista at its very first installation on the PC. But the OEM’s is the key used by the Licensing Police to verify that Windows is on that PC where it was originally installed. Otherwise, it could not be on that PC as the result of a legal install. (Maybe it could be, somehow, but you know Police…)

            It has been quite a long time (almost 8 years by now), so I seem to remember that I entered the sticker key when activating Windows. But I might be confusing that with entering the Office key, which I definitely entered myself to activate Office 2010, when I first opened the box, got out the PC, hooked its bits and pieces together and started running Windows. But, most likely, the MS Product key on the sticker had already been entered by HP (the OEM) when installing Windows in the first place.

            So this is finally settled now… ? Oh dear! Fortunately I still have some of the Valium left, somewhere.

            • This reply was modified 2 months, 2 weeks ago by  OscarCP.
            1 user thanked author for this post.
            • #1766567 Reply

              mn–
              AskWoody Lounger

              And of course all this is only for those cases where you have a specific Windows 7 key.

              Windows 8 Pro OEM keys, valid OEM Windows 8 with downgrade rights, may fail to activate Windows 7 Pro now. So, that’d be a case where you’re allowed to run Windows 7, but can’t pass activation. Had one of these cases recently.

              (I noticed that on some of the OEM licenses the downgrade right was conditional, and only valid for *supported* older versions? That would mean downgrades to 7 expiring next year…)

              2 users thanked author for this post.
          • #1766578 Reply

            GoneToPlaid
            AskWoody Plus

            Cybertooth wrote “You only need that CoA sticker if you’re doing a fresh install of Windows.” This is not necessarily true if Windows SLP keys for various Windows versions and flavors are embedded in the BIOS of an OEM manufacturer’s computer. In this case, Windows should activate automatically if SLP keys are present in the OEM computer’s BIOS for either 32-bit or 64-bit versions Windows, and possibly for more than one version of Windows (Windows 7 and Windows 8.x, and perhaps for Windows 10).

            I need to dig up the link for a utility which will show users what (if any) SLP keys are in their computer’s BIOS, and for what versions and flavors of Windows that the SLP keys are valid.

            1 user thanked author for this post.
            • #1766587 Reply

              OscarCP
              AskWoody Plus

              GTP: “ I need to dig up the link for a utility which will show users what (if any) SLP keys are in their computer’s BIOS, and for what versions and flavors of Windows that the SLP keys are valid.

              How about the “OEM License Installer” that is supposed to “Restore your Vista or Windows 7 OEM license using Advanced Tokens Manager” — and Anonymous  #1766231  was referring to?

    • #1766485 Reply

      geekdom
      AskWoody Plus

      Most software requires a license key. Make a master list of all keys and keep the list in a safe place. If you must re-install software, you have the product keys at hand.

      Group G{ot backup} TestBeta
      Win7Pro·x64·SP1·Windows Firewall·i3-3220·Microsoft Security Essentials·HDD
    • #1766988 Reply

      Cybertooth
      AskWoody Lounger

      Cybertooth wrote “You only need that CoA sticker if you’re doing a fresh install of Windows.” This is not necessarily true if Windows SLP keys for various Windows versions and flavors are embedded in the BIOS of an OEM manufacturer’s computer. In this case, Windows should activate automatically if SLP keys are present in the OEM computer’s BIOS for either 32-bit or 64-bit versions Windows, and possibly for more than one version of Windows (Windows 7 and Windows 8.x, and perhaps for Windows 10).

      I need to dig up the link for a utility which will show users what (if any) SLP keys are in their computer’s BIOS, and for what versions and flavors of Windows that the SLP keys are valid.

      Just to be clear, I was only paraphrasing what Raymond said in the previously linked Raymond.cc article:

      Unfortunately if you perform a clean install of Windows you cannot ordinarily use this generic key and will instead have to use the one from the COA sticker.

       

      EDIT: I only wanted to quote the first sentence in GTP’s post, but using the “Quote” function it gives me the entire post, thus losing the focus on what I’m replying to. As I work on this edit, in the editing field I only see the desired quote, but when clicking on Submit the entire post by GTP shows up. Grrr!!!!

      • This reply was modified 2 months, 2 weeks ago by  Cybertooth.
      • This reply was modified 2 months, 2 weeks ago by  Cybertooth.
      • #1766999 Reply

        PKCano
        Da Boss

        If you highlight the part you want to quote first, then click “Quote” it will only quote what’s highlighted.

        2 users thanked author for this post.
        • #1767221 Reply

          GoneToPlaid
          AskWoody Plus

          Thanks for that tip about how to quote only parts of a message.

    • #1776237 Reply

      OscarCP
      AskWoody Plus

      OK, I’ve been looking around and found a bunch of information of unclear value. To wit:

      (1a) The COA number on the sticker (the one that has become illegible) is no longer used by MS, or (1b) it is not clear what was its purpose in the first place.

      (2) One can recover the partially erased COA by dabbing the sticker very lightly with acrylic paint (for fingernails?) and then, after it is dry, very carefully rubbing it off. A little of the paint will stick to the slight embossing of the number, revealing the characters.

      (3) Call the manufacturer of the computer and ask them to tell you what the COA is.

      (4) At MS, this advice: when the notice pops up that the license of the copy of Windows installed in one’s PC is invalid, click on the pop-up and follow the instructions that will then show up.

      (5) If everything else fails, call MS.

      As to the SLP keys, the consensus seems to be that they are the thing to use when activating after installing or reinstalling Windows, period. Nothing about getting out of jail after an inexplicable but hostile visit by the licensing police.

      • #1786192 Reply

        Cybertooth
        AskWoody Lounger

        Regarding points 1a and 1b, literally last night I activated my father’s new PC using the CoA sticker on the PC case. He had bought it used from eBay so I was dubious after he said Windows reported to be “not genuine” and he couldn’t get it activated. I was sure that some shady vendor had given him a bogus product key just to make a sale.

        There were other issues with the computer too, so I took it home for more extensive diagnostics and troubleshooting. As soon as it booted up, I got the notice to activate Windows. There were (if I remember right) two main choices: either to contact Microsoft or to re-type the product key. I decided to try typing in the product key… and it worked.

        There was a capital B in the product key on the sticker and I suspect that my dad thought it was an 8, and that this is why he couldn’t get it to activate.

        Now regarding the last paragraph…

        As to the SLP keys, the consensus seems to be that they are the thing to use when activating after installing or reinstalling Windows, period. Nothing about getting out of jail after an inexplicable but hostile visit by the licensing police.

        … (emphasis added) recall that GreatAndPowerfulTech got visited by the licensing police (in the post that started this thread), and managed to get out of jail just fine.

        Once again, though, this is historical and current MS practice. Whether they change it in the future so that we can no longer install a new copy of Windows 7 or reactivate it in case of something like what GAPT experienced, we cannot predict.

         

    • #1789517 Reply

      GoneToPlaid
      AskWoody Plus

      As to the SLP keys, the consensus seems to be that they are the thing to use when activating after installing or reinstalling Windows, period. Nothing about getting out of jail after an inexplicable but hostile visit by the licensing police.

      Uninstalling KB9101033 should get you out of jail with the MS licensing police since MS has had occasional problems with their activation servers.

      As to SLP keys, the SLP keys are embedded in the BIOS on brand name OEM motherboards. The appropriate SLP key will automatically reactive Windows if you have to reinstall windows. You could literally pull a working hard drive with a working Windows installation and plug it into an identical or very similar and same OEM major brand name computer, and Windows will instantly reactivate on boot up, even though the serial number of the motherboard is different. This can even work if a different major brand computer has very similar hardware such that Windows doesn’t crash on bootup.

      With regards to the COA key…

      You should never need to use it if your motherboard’s BIOS has SLP keys. The COA key would be used if you needed to get Windows activated on newer hardware from the same brand name OEM in which a proper SLP key for your Windows version is not in the new hardware’s motherboard BIOS. COA keys are a “one shot” only deal. Once a COA key is used and does properly activate, it can not be reused again.

      1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #1792020 Reply

        mn–
        AskWoody Lounger

        As to SLP keys, the SLP keys are embedded in the BIOS on brand name OEM motherboards. The appropriate SLP key will automatically reactive Windows if you have to reinstall windows. You could literally pull a working hard drive with a working Windows installation and plug it into an identical or very similar and same OEM major brand name computer, and Windows will instantly reactivate on boot up, even though the serial number of the motherboard is different. This can even work if a different major brand computer has very similar hardware such that Windows doesn’t crash on bootup.

        Yes, that’s how it *should* work, and used to. However… with downgrade rights to Windows 7, it’s no longer a given that it *will* work even if it’s a direct reinstall. Would activate 8.1 just fine though.

        Didn’t try 10, was told that it has to be 7 for the special hardware it’s used with…

    • #1790633 Reply

      OscarCP
      AskWoody Plus

      GTP and Cybertooth, Thanks!

      As to KB9101033, I uninstalled it several days ago; a day later it showed up at my doorstep, courtesy of Windows Update. So I hid it.

      I have to pick a nit with Cybertooth, though. He wrote:

      recall that GreatAndPowerfulTech got visited by the licensing police (in the post that started this thread), and managed to get out of jail just fine.

      Yes, he did, but only after a telephonic heart-to-heart with the licensing robocop on duty at MS, an experience that, as he tells it, was not exactly totally delightful and I much rather don’t have to have myself, ever:

      So, I called MS Activation Center, which can be a tedious thing to do. I entered the Installation ID, then was told “verified!”. Well, if it’s verified why was it deactivated in the first place? Since it was a robot, there was no point in asking any questions. I then entered the confirmation ID and was re-activated.

       

      • #1791062 Reply

        Cybertooth
        AskWoody Lounger

        Well, of course we’d rather not have to deal with the (re-)activation process, but really it’s not all that tedious or time-consuming; if memory serves, when I had to do it a couple of weeks ago the whole process took no more than ten minutes.

        And remember, we are assuming here 1) that you get stopped by the licensing police in the first place, and 2) that then you can’t complete the re-activation without needing to call Microsoft. Two weeks ago I had to call and got it done, and last night I managed by simply entering online the product key from the sticker, no phone call needed.

        The bottom line is this: even if you get the knock on your Windows ( 😉 ) by the licensing police, not only can you indeed beat the rap, but it’s simple to do it.

         

        • #1791144 Reply

          OscarCP
          AskWoody Plus

          Cybertooth, But… it sounds as if you had the sticker number to give to the robocop when it demanded to see it. (Did you?) While here I am, quite bereft of a sticker number. Or nail polish (idea No. 2 in a previous posting). My only hope, right now, seems to be that getting rid of KB9101033 to keep the license police off my doorstep will be the equivalent of hanging strings of garlic around doors and windows to ward off vampires. But also work in the real world.

          • #1791311 Reply

            Cybertooth
            AskWoody Lounger

            @oscarcp, in my case, yes, I did use the CoA sticker. But as @gonetoplaid points out a couple of posts upthread, this isn’t necessary and he even expresses a preference for the manufacturer’s key over that given in the CoA sticker. (Did I get that right, GTP?)

            I would advise taking up GTP’s suggestion of downloading one of those programs designed to retrieve the key, and then saving the resulting information in a safe place. To use a different analogy, it will be your insurance policy if the license storm hits.

            @carld here, @pkcano here, @jburk here, and anonymous here have all offered recommendations or explanations along the same lines. I’d say, use one or more of the suggested key retrievers and be ready for the hurricane… if it ever hits you, which as far as we can tell is highly unlikely.

            I would do that and then give the matter not one more moment’s thought.

             

            • This reply was modified 2 months, 2 weeks ago by  Cybertooth.
            1 user thanked author for this post.

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