Convert Dell OEM Windows 7 Pro to Retail

Posted on 2011-10-26
Last Modified: 2012-05-12
I installed Microsoft Windows 7 Professional (64bit) from a Dell OEM disc on an older Dell system that was preinstalled with Windows XP.  The activation will not work, which I presume is because the system was not originally licensed for Windows 7.  

I have since purchased a retail copy of Windows 7 Professional for this system.  

Can I avoid completely reinstalling Windows 7?  I presume that the OEM installation will not take my Retail license key.  My idea is to do a repair installation of Windows.  I think I've done this before with Windows XP and it "converted" the installation from OEM to Retail without wiping/reloading.

Any thoughts how best to do this?
Question by:jackadmin
    LVL 37

    Expert Comment

    by:Gerwin Jansen
    >> I installed Microsoft Windows 7 Professional (64bit) from a Dell OEM disc on an older Dell system that was preinstalled with Windows XP.
    The OEM license does not allow this:

    The OEM License states....

    a. One Copy per Computer. The software license is permanently assigned to the computer with which the software is distributed. That computer is the "licensed computer."

    There is a long post about this here, I doubt you can 'convert' your installation.
    LVL 7

    Expert Comment

    Firstly, it appears you violated the licensing for the OEM version.  OEM versions specifically targeting a brand/model of computer and labelled "Already installed on your computer" already have their license assigned.  These are non-transferrable OEM licenses which were already consumed by their pre-installation on a pre-built computer.  Some joker wants to sell off the recovery discs.  Doesn't matter that it may come with the COA sticker.  These are recovery CDs for a license that was already consumed for a pre-installed instance on a pre-built host.  There are lot of these being sold at eBay which are reportable for copyright infringement.

    So you now have a legal retail copy of Windows 7 (there are legal OEM versions, too, just not the ones that are for recovery of an already consumed OEM license).  What you want to do is slide in the license key for the legitimate license in place of the currently installed non-legit license.  Rather than duplicate the instructions, they are mentioned at:

    In case you want another method to change the product key, it looks like Microsoft provided a utility (other than the msoobe.exe wizard included in a Windows install) mentioned at:

    You sure you only did a clean install of only Windows XP from the non-legit OEM disc (i.e., you did not install any other software)?  You sure where you got the install disc was from a trustworthy?  Other than Windows 7, have you installed any other software, like anti-virus software, other security software, any apps (whether Microsoft or 3rd party), etc?  

    Have you yet tried rebooting Windows XP into its safe mode and then reboot again but into its normal mode?  I've found some driver setups get hung during their mandatory reboot and using safe mode somehow kicks them out of their hang or error so a subsequent normal-mode bootup works okay.

    Hard to know what went wrong with activation from "does not work".  There were no error or abort messages?

    Accepted Solution

    The Dell OEM disc came with one of my many Dell systems.  Any Dell OEM disc will work on any Dell system, from my past experiences.  There must be something tied to the system board that handles the activation/license key that is preventing it from being activated.  It just says activated failed and gives me options to purchase a license, provide a different key, or contact Dell for support.

    I went ahead and just entered my Retail Windows 7 Pro key and it took it.  So I guess the Dell OEM Windows 7 Pro will take a Retail Windows 7 Pro key.

    Easy, case closed.

    Author Closing Comment

    Windows accepted the retail key without any additional effort.

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