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How To Use OEM SLP Keys To Activate Windows

Posted on 2011-03-02
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Last Modified: 2013-11-05
I work in a computer repair shop. We are constantly wasting time calling Microsoft to activate machines where the COA sticker has worn off and is unreadable. However we are able to pull valid OEM keys off the machine with Produkey, but we are never able to activate with these keys. Is there an easy, legitimate way we can use this key possibly with SLP to be able to activate these machines either online or offline? Microsoft is hit or miss whether or not they help us generate a new key and it takes hours fighting with them for a very common occurrence in the shop.
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Question by:paulrausch
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11 Comments
 
LVL 94

Expert Comment

by:John Hurst
ID: 35018233
The key on the COA is not the key for activation, at least not on Thinkpads I use and set up. You need the recovery CD/DVD for the paticular model you are dealing with. I do not think there is a generic way to solve this.

If any of the machines you are servicing will boot, you can use Magical Jellybean to get the key. You will want the paid version Recover Keys to do what you want. I use the latter for myself and it works.

... Thinkpads_User
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by:paulrausch
ID: 35018365
Thanks for the prompt reply. The COA sticker has the retail key that would normally be used for activation but it is worn off. I have pulled the product key from the machine but it is the OEM key that the OS was preinstalled with. After re installation of the OS the OEM keys we can pull from machines from the factory never activate properly. We do not have the time to contact the manufacturer and pay them for a recovery CD every time we have a bad COA sticker.
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Expert Comment

by:John Hurst
ID: 35018407
Check the model on google about the COA. For all the models I use and service, I am quite certain the COA key cannot be used for activation. I have tried it, contacted IBM, and they said no and that I should use the key embedded in the recovery disk media.

Also, if you recovered the key from the OS itself, it is strange it should not work.

So it appears we are dealing with different circumstances. ... Thinkpads_User


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by:John Hurst
ID: 35018483
Also, how is that you need to activate? If you are are re-installing Windows and do not have the recovery media for the specific PC, then you must be installing a retail copy or volume license copy of Windows.

Assuming the latter case (a retail or VL copy), then for sure the COA sticker key and also the original key in the OS are not going to work because these keys are OEM licenses. You cannot use a different media with OEM keys.

That is why (as I think more about it) that the OEM key you pulled off the system would not activate.

In short, you must have the recovery media for the PC or else supply a new license for the Windows you install and charge the customer for that. ... Thinkpads_User
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Author Comment

by:paulrausch
ID: 35018850
Hmm. The COA I'm referring to is the Microsoft sticker on the bottom of the computer that has a key on it. The same sticker you get when you purchase a retail copy of Windows. When you have to reinstall the OS that has been preinstalled from the factory, they tell you to use the key on that sticker. Thinkpads may be different. We could use the SLPed key in the recovery disk, but we would have to pay for and order one for every machine we have this problem with. Its not cost effective, nor do we have the time to do this. Whenever we recover a key from a machine that has been reinstalled using the retail key, we can activate with it. The problem only occurs attempting activation with an OEM key. In my mind, the customer has already paid for Windows, and any key, retail or OEM *should* be able to activate. I had to call MS this morning and they generated me a new key after a while. They explained there was no better way to activate then to call them everytime. So I'm wondering if I can create a custom SLPed CD like the manufacturers do with the OEM key we pull from a machine to make the process faster.
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Author Comment

by:paulrausch
ID: 35018876
Yes that is correct. We are installing using retail media. However, I have OEM copies of install media but the OEM keys pulled from the machine will not activate those copies either.
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LVL 94

Expert Comment

by:John Hurst
ID: 35018966
Here is what I think you are dealing with:

(a) OEM and Retail are *very* different. If you check the keys from the install, the OEM key has "OEM" as part of the key. A Retail key does not.
(b) Then because of (a) when the user asks for support the OEM user will be told to contact the vendor or pay for support. The retail user may be entitled to free support. The OEM user is never entitled to free support. This is why the OEM license is so much cheaper than the retail licence.

I am looking at the key on the bottom of my PC and there is no OEM in the COA sticker. There was (for the original operating system) "OEM" embedded in the key in the installation.

(c) For the case above, if you have retail media, you can never use an OEM key to activate. It just will not work.

(d) I think (as you note "We could use the SLPed key in the recovery disk ... ") this may be your only way out and why Microsoft is giving you the hassle.

An alternate approach is to have the customer approach the vendor and get recovery media at their own expense and time. That means a delay in getting the machine back in service, but it is the customer's time. Of course, they will not be happy with this either.

... Thinkpads_User
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by:paulrausch
ID: 35019477
Yes, ultimately the big issue here is customer satisfaction and good turn around time. We may just have to bite the bullet. Whats interesting is we use a program called produkey to pull keys from Microsoft products like Windows and Office. When we pull a key from a machine preinstalled with windows, we get a product ID and product key. The product key contains what you said "OEM" in the key. An example is 89578-OEM-7332157-00061. But we also are able to pull an actual key that has 5 sections of 5 characters. I gave the Microsoft rep the product key and product ID we pulled from the machine and he was kind enough to generate a new one. Sometimes they redirect us to the manufacturer. I've talked to MS several times and they only let out bits and pieces of information on how their licensing works. I guess ultimately we are looking for a way to activate windows offline like the manufacturers do with their OEM installs. I know they use SLP keys and SLIC.
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Accepted Solution

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marsilies earned 125 total points
ID: 35022604
With Vista and 7, it's fairly straightforward on how to backup and restore SLP pre-activation after a new install. Here's instructions for Vista, but the steps are nearly identical for 7:
http://forum.notebookreview.com/hp-compaq/120228-clean-vista-install-no-activation.html
http://directedge.us/content/abr-activation-backup-and-restore

For XP, it's more complicated, as SLP pre-activation requires replacing certain files on the install disc, and making an answer file. Someone did create a tool for making this easier though:
http://siginetsoftware.com/forum/showthread.php?541-OEMSCAN_ADDON_MULTIOEM-v1.8

Wikipedia has a little info on how SLP works:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/System_Locked_Preinstallation
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LVL 2

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by:paulrausch
ID: 35028112
Thank you, that was the solution I was looking for. A program to back up the activation SLP and certificate. It appears that program does not work for windows 7. Is there a program that will? We use Double Driver to back up system drivers and it works great. This works just like it but for activation info. Perfect! Thank you!
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LVL 20

Expert Comment

by:marsilies
ID: 35028397
The beta version of the tool works for Windows 7, and if you read the comments on the page, you can see that people have used it successfully. Also, the author of the tool, Brian Mathis , appears to be active in responding to questions posted in the comments.

Thanks for the points!
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