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Reformatting a Downgraded Windows 7 PC - Invalid Key?

Posted on 2011-09-17
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Last Modified: 2012-05-12
This happened once before and I worked around it using another key, but I want to find the answer to this.  I think it may be related to Windows XP being discontinued, but I am not sure and am thusfar unable to find a definitive answer online.

I have a client's Compaq PC here in my office which needs to be rebuilt.  It has a sticker on it for Windows 7, but was downgraded from the factory to Windows XP to make it compatible with a piece of software they use in their office.  Therefore, the sticker says Windows 7, but Jellybean Keyfinder says XP SP3.  After grabbing the key and all user data from the XP install, I used a genuine HP Restore Plus! CD and XP SP3 disc to reformat her laptop (it's a Compaq 610, btw) and all seemed to be going well.  After installing W/LAN drivers and trying to go to MS Update, the Activation wizard said my XP Key was Invalid.

Calling MS Activation was no help.  After putting in my Installation ID, it told me to go pound sand, and hung up.  Seriously.

I even tried using the Windows 7 key, thinking maybe they have it coded to activate the downgraded version of Windows...no dice.

Any help would be very much appreciated.  I can work around this, but I'd rather find the actual answer.  In the meantime, I will double-check to make sure the Windows XP install from before is legit - I'm already sure it is, but I'll check again anyway.

Thanks!!
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Question by:Preston55
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☠ MASQ ☠ earned 2000 total points
ID: 36554466
When you purchase a Windows 7 system with downgrade rights the buyer elects to have either W7 or XP installed - they can't have both and the keys are different.
With HP the installation is a standard HP OEM image so the key you'll extract from the registry is standard for all HP OEM installs and not valid for activation.  Technically in this situation no Product Activation Key for the system exists.  You'll need to go back to HP for the reinstallation CD set for the specific model - a generic Restore Plus CD won't do it.  If there's a recovery partiton that has escaped reformatting as part of the reinstall then you can create a recovery disk set from there.
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Author Closing Comment

by:Preston55
ID: 36554734
I have another HP PC here and I have the exact same problem using the same disc.  Of course, one HD is dead and the other has no restore partition, so I need to order two sets of Recovery discs now. Thanks!
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