Need to find Windows 7 license key for Dell computer.

I updated hardware in a Dell tower which originally had an Intel i3-4130 and a Dell Inc. 088DT1 A01 motherboard. The updates made it so Windows would not boot, of course. I tried restoring from image backup, but still no boot. So, I installed Windows 7 from scratch, which worked fine. Normally, there is a sticker on the side of the computer box with the Windows license number, and normally I can type that in to active Windows on an updated computer like this. However, this Dell has no such sticker. The installation/repair DVD that came with it likewise seems to have nothing with a license key, nor does the DVD envelop.

Is there a way I can find out what the license number is so I can activate this Windows 7 properly?
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MarkAsked:
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
You need to ask Dell Support for the recovery media which includes the key. You can explain the situation and they may give you the OEM key
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
If the machine is running, you can try Recover Keys (I use this) or Magic Jelly Bean.  These tools will show the Windows 7 Key if it is there.

https://www.magicaljellybean.com/keyfinder/
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☠ MASQ ☠Commented:
You don’t need to know the key if you are using Dell installation media. Activation is automatic. The key in the registry is generic to Dell and is simply a placeholder, it can’t be used for OEM activation so key finders are a bit of a waste of time, they’ll get a code but it’s not relevant.

The question is how have you reinstalled the Operating System? Did you use installation media created by Dell Backup and Recovery or restored from the internal recovery partition? Alternatively did you use a Dell Branded Windows 7 Reinstallation DVD? In all of these cases the product key isn't required as the Dell Windows 7 OEM install uses Dell System Locked Preinstallation OEM activation. In such cases a generic product key is input and Windows 7 is activated if and only if a valid Dell BIOS is detected.

If you are being prompted to enter a key this is either because the OEM installation media doesn’t recognise the hardware on the computer belonging to the OEM or because you’re installing using non-Dell media (maybe a retail Win 7 DVD) so if that’s the case let us know which and we should be able to help you around that.

More details here (sorry about the adverts on the page but the advice is sound)
http://dellwindowsreinstallationguide.com/the-activation-backup-and-recovery-program-windows-vista-7-version/
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pgm554Commented:
You need to go out to Dells website and download the recovery media from them.
You will need your service tag number to download.
Activation is automatic and no SN is required.

http://www.dell.com/support/article/us/en/04/sln299044/how-to-download-and-use-the-dell-os-recovery-image-in-microsoft-windows?lang=en
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David Johnson, CD, MVPOwnerCommented:
You took a dell computer, ripped the guts out of it, and replaced them now you want to activate the OEM version of the operating system. OEM software lives and dies on the original hardware that it is activated on..  The information you need was probably in the SLIC table in the bios of the Dell machine.  The new MB doesn't have this information ergo you can't use the OEM software to activate windows.

You need to purchase a retail copy of windows 7 in order to activate the o/s.
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☠ MASQ ☠Commented:
Good spot David, I’d missed “I updated hardware” .  Yes, if the hardware isn’t Dell you won’t be able to get the OEM version activated, that’s part of the licencing agreement.
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☠ MASQ ☠Commented:
*The key in the registry is generic to Dell and is simply a placeholder, it can’t be used for OEM activation so key finders are a bit of a waste of time, they’ll get a code but it’s not relevant.
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pgm554Commented:
Agree ,if you changed the MOBO to something other than Dell ,you need a retail copy of 7.
The i3chip ,not so much.
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
@jmarkfoley  - If you need to purchase a license (if Dell will not spring for one), maybe consider upgrading to Windows 10. Time for that anyway.
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pgm554Commented:
W10 ,a truly wonderful product.

My user was headed over to Tokyo tomorrow and W10 decided it needs to upgrade itself (Dell XPS 13)and so far it's taken about 3 hours and counting..

Stick with 7.

I have had nothing but issues with that OS.
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MarkAuthor Commented:
Thanks all. Yes, the "upgrade" does involve a new motherboard, so I'm guessing there is nothing I can do to get the old key, right? I do have the old computer complete with disk, MOBO, BIOS etc. which is in the queue to be scrapped. Is there something I can retrieve from the old rig?

I've installed the new OS from a generic WIN7 installation DVD, not a DELL DVD.

Interestingly, I've done the same thing with 2 HP computers and installed on different MOBOs, but the HPs had the License key on a sticker on the side of the computer. Those keys worked just fine on the upgrade even though they too has the OS installed from a generic WIN7 installation DVD.

John: Our office is currently using Windows 7. We will be making a decision by the end of this year as to whether to go Windows 10 or migrate to a more secure OS. Meanwhile, I'm scrambling to get these 8 year old workstations updated to something with more performance in anticipation of whatever OS we go with.
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
I do have the old computer complete with disk, MOBO, BIOS etc. .... Is there something I can retrieve from the old rig?

It probably will not apply to the new system.
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MarkAuthor Commented:
I've run a program on the original machine (I can't recall its name, but I'll find out and post later) which gave me the Windows 7 product key and Product Id for the original computer. On the new computer I typed in the new product key to activate, but got the error 0xC004C003      "The activation server determined the specified product key is in use." The Microsoft site https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/help/931276/error-message-when-you-try-to-activate-windows-7-or-windows-vista-an-e, said, "Verify your product key and use the "Change product key" feature to reactivate Windows."

Here's another bit of oddness. I've used this same Windows Installation DVD to re-install Windows on 4 computers, and have used the product key stamped on the side of 3 of these computers to activate successfully. Each of those 3 computers now has a different Product ID, all beginning with 00371-OEM... The odd bit is that the original DELL computer's Product ID is 00371-OEM-8992671-00524. AND, the scratch-installed system giving me the problem has the exact same product ID! Even though it has different hardware and was installed using a generic Windows Install DVD. How is it possible for these two computers to have the same Product ID? Is this a clue?

Should I just give up and by a new Windows license?
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David Johnson, CD, MVPOwnerCommented:
I reiterate: OEM software lives and dies on the original hardware that it is activated on.

So yes you need to buy a new windows license
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☠ MASQ ☠Commented:
The key you pulled was 32KD2-K9CTF-M3DJT-4J3WC-73***

Which is the SLP Key for Windows 7 Professional when installing on Dell OEM hardware - you don't have Dell OEM hardware any more so it won't work.

"I've run a program on the original machine (I can't recall its name, but I'll find out and post later) which gave me the Windows 7 product key and Product Id for the original computer."
*The key in the registry is generic to Dell and is simply a placeholder, it can’t be used for OEM activation so key finders are a bit of a waste of time, they’ll get a code but it’s not relevant.

"The odd bit is that the original DELL computer's Product ID is 00371-OEM-8992671-00524. AND, the scratch-installed system giving me the problem has the exact same product ID! Even though it has different hardware and was installed using a generic Windows Install DVD. How is it possible for these two computers to have the same Product ID? Is this a clue?"

If you read the article I linked to in my first post that will explain how the ProductID is derived and why your IDs are similar/identical

"Should I just give up and by a new Windows license? "
Your Dell OEM key won't work on a computer that doesn't contain Dell Hardware so yes.
Your only exception is if you live in a locality governed by the European Court of Justice where OEM rules are considered overly restrictive and you can transfer an OEM Key to another machine.
See: https://www.experts-exchange.com/articles/3721/Can-I-transfer-my-OEM-version-of-Windows-to-another-PC.html
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MarkAuthor Commented:
OK, I swallowed the bitter pill and abandoned the idea of activating Windows with the former Dell key. I had another key from a decommissioned Windows computer and I used that. It activated w/o problem.
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JohnBusiness Consultant (Owner)Commented:
Thanks for the update.
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