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Problems with Windows 7 licensing, now that Windows 8 is out.

Posted on 2013-01-08
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Last Modified: 2013-02-04
We are a Windows 7 shop and are running into a problem with licensing new computers, now that Windows 8 is being shipped with new machines.

I currently install a custom Windows 7 image, taylored to my specific environment, onto new computers. In the past, I simply loaded this custom image onto the new computers and then entered the Windows 7 license key from the sticker that is attached to the computer. No problems with this method.

Now that Windows 8 is being shipped with new machines, we request Windows 7 downgrades. The problem is, even with Windows 7 pre-installed, license key stickers are no longer affixed to the computer. Therefore, how am I supposed to license my Windows 7 installs?

What are my options at this point?
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Expert Comment

by:tpitch-ssemc
ID: 38756616
Last I checked OEM copies do not include imaging rights. But assuming you're licensed for imaging you'll need to obtain a volume license key from Microsoft to install Windows 7 properly. I would make a phone call to Microsoft's licensing division.
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by:Darr247
ID: 38756621
Extract the preinstalled key with Enchanted Keyfinder and write it on a piece of tape on the back (or inside the side cover), or inside the battery compartment on laptops
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Author Comment

by:Acme_Construction_Supply
ID: 38756629
By "image" I simply mean custom installation disc (or USB in my case), not sure if that makes a difference.
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by:tpitch-ssemc
ID: 38756643
I'm by no means a licensing expert when it comes to Microsoft stuff, I bet Microsoft employees are not even experts. I'm not saying you can't image, but I think a custom install disk also constitutes an image. Just my opinion. Not saying I've never done it, just saying. :)
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Author Comment

by:Acme_Construction_Supply
ID: 38756649
I extracted the pre-installed Windows 7 license key, but that key is the manufacturer's/vendor's setup key (not sure the proper terminology here), which will not work if you re-install Windows 7 and try to enter that key. In the past, the vendor's/manufacturer's setup key I've extracted is always different than the actual license key on the sticker. I found that interesting.
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by:garycase
ID: 38756688
Windows 8 Professional includes downgrade rights to Windows 7 Pro => but the "standard" version (i.e. Windows 8) does not.    So the first thing you need to do is ensure you're buying systems with Win8 Pro.    But that's not all -- you then need to get a downgrade key from your vendor.    Not sure how easy various vendors are making this, but it shouldn't be an issue.

Once you have a key, you should be able to install your image with that key.
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by:tpitch-ssemc
ID: 38756709
You'll probably just have to call Microsoft on every install when Windows 7 does its activation and obtain a product key. That may be a good time to ask about a key you can use multiple times for furutre downgrades. Garycase is right that Windows 8 Pro is the only edition to include downgrade rights.
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Author Comment

by:Acme_Construction_Supply
ID: 38756817
Yes, I made sure I ordered Windows 8 Pro. I am currently using CDW for purchases, who I have called, and my rep is not aware of any downgrade key. They are also looking into the situation.
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by:Darr247
ID: 38756818
> but that key is the manufacturer's/vendor's setup key
(not sure the proper terminology here),
System Locked Preinstallation (SLP)

http://social.microsoft.com/Forums/is/genuinewindows7/thread/44179f86-f8a6-4dc2-8692-b1637e72280b
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Author Comment

by:Acme_Construction_Supply
ID: 38756834
Haha, I was JUST about to post this I found:

Computers that come pre-installed with Windows from large manufacturers usually come with two Product Keys.
 
OEM SLP: This is the key that came in Windows (from the factory). It works by connecting to a BIOS flag (the SLIC table) found only on  computers from that Manufacturer. It also checks for the existence of proper matching licenses in the OS itself. Once it sees both, it self-activates every time the machine is rebooted.
 
COA SLP: This is the key seen on the sticker located on the side, bottom or in the battery compartment of your machine. This key is for use if the OEM SLP self-activation stops working for whatever reason.
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Accepted Solution

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garycase earned 500 total points
ID: 38756899
This page outlines the downgrade process => apparently you don't have to go through the manufacturer unless you need installation media (which you do not).    You will, however, likely have to call Microsoft for each activation.

http://www.microsoft.com/oem/en/licensing/sblicensing/pages/downgrade_rights.aspx#fbid=B9SKICqWFIZ
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