Lenovo Windows 7 image activation issue

chrisrandleman
chrisrandleman used Ask the Experts™
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Hello,

We are working with multiple new computers Lenovo M82 10-AH's we have created an image from the first machine, and then realized there are no OEM stickers on the boxes any more. How do we activate these copies of Windows 7?

Thanks,
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Try calling Lenovo and they may be able to retrieve them for you based on serial numbers.  You can try calling 1-800-426-7378.
Lenovo ships a lot of their computers with Windows 8 Pro licenses that have been downgraded out of the box to Windows 7 Pro. There is no license sticker for these versions of Windows 8, the license is incorporated into the BIOS.

Microsoft's official word on how to activate in such a scenario is basically to obtain a legitimate Windows 7 Pro installation media and key from somewhere (e.g. grab one off of another PC) and then use that key when installing the product. When Internet activation fails, perform a telephone activation and the Microsoft service rep will give you the activation codes.

Basically... it is Microsoft-approved cheating of the licensing system, which is legitimate because you have downgrade rights.

http://www.microsoft.com/oem/en/licensing/sblicensing/pages/downgrade_rights.aspx#fbid=k6g9M0kU0eR

Author

Commented:
They were unable to help with our image. They are mailing a new "recovery cd" which means I will have to re-image all these machines.
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(The recovery CD that comes with the computers will include an appropriately activated copy of Windows 7, which is Lenovo's officially supported way of recovering these computers, but the method I explained above works just fine, too)

Basically, the answer to your question is that you activate over the telephone and don't worry about the Windows 7 product key being used. ANY KEY will do even if it has already been used to activate another computer. The Microsoft rep when you call for telephone activation will provide you with an activation code.

Author

Commented:
So instead of using these recovery cds (when I get them) I should just use the same product key for all 10 of these machines? And using that key should not work, but will instead give me an option to activate over telephone?
Yep. Automatic activation over the internet will probably fail, but if you select to activate over the telephone it will give you information and steps to follow. The screen looks like this:

 Windows activation screen
Telephone activation screen

Author

Commented:
I used a code that was already activated and it worked for me, i was hoping to get the other ways to activate, but i didn't. It just said Activation Successful.  So how do they track the windows 7 licenses now if you don't get a code?
And the windows 8 doesn't have a code either, just a "windows 8 sticker"
If it said Activation Successful, then the process of generating the installation ID, activating it, and entering the confirmation ID was done automatically for you by the Internet activation system and you don't have anything to worry about. Windows is properly activated.

They track how many times any given product key has been activated, and will eventually block automatic internet activation after a little while (but then of course you can just call the telephone activation system to do it manually).

If Windows detects a major change in hardware on your computer or the licensing circumstances change significantly (for example if a volume license key becomes invalid due to piracy), Windows may deauthorize itself and require that you activate it again. This activation again will happen automatically over the Internet and you'll only hear about it if activation fails, at which point you have the opportunity to perform a telephone activation, or enter a different productkey.

Licensing and activation for Windows is largely an honor system.  They're pretty fast and loose with the actual licensing enforcement, but at any time they can audit you, and if they find you are improperly licensed they can fine you very heavily. Licensing compliance and proof is ultimately your responsibility.

Windows 8 licensing works pretty much exactly the same way as Windows 7 licensing, but they've embedded the product key inside the BIOS where the customer can't easily see it, but Windows can automatically access it. It is intended to make the installation process easier for the customer. The only stickers on the computer itself are now just vendor badges that certify that their hardware works properly on Windows 8.

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