OEM Vista COA Product Key question

Custom / CUSTOM
January 30, 2010 at 07:03:46
Specs: Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate, 2 GHz / 2046 MB
hello just a general question

sometimes i repair computers and most have either a hidden partition or some sort of restore discs to get the system back up to factory settings.

but some have been either deleted or just not there but mostly the user,s product key is on the side of the box (a lot of these are from dell like companies with the system already installed)

my question is can i use any original windows home premium disc to install then just use their product key to reinstall their system

See More: OEM Vista COA Product Key question

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January 30, 2010 at 07:52:03
I'm almost certain that Microsoft issues unique Product Keys for oem pre-installed versions, which won't be valid if used to install Windows from a non-oem disc (eg a retail disc).

In short, I don't think what you want to do will work - even though there's nothing illegal about it - the key won't match the type of installation it's been issued for, namely an oem installation.

That was certainly the case with Windows XP anyhow.

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January 30, 2010 at 09:49:02
what has happened is the laptop came here with the microsoft limited function (only explorer working)
the owner says it was a pre installed operating system when he bought it new from dell or acer cant remember off hand and i dont have it here)
but its been repaired before by someone who must have used some other disc to format but it now wont take his official product key from the bottom of the laptop and he does not have any discs

so far i have got it back up using the slmgr -rearm but this is only a limited 30 days more i think

so i thought i would install a original vista disc and use his product number from the bottom of his laptop and keep it legal.

if this is not possible what are my other options

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January 30, 2010 at 11:36:25
It should work. If the sticker is for an OEM version you must use an OEM disk for the install. The exceptions are OEM product disks from Dell, Acer etc. These are tied to the BIOS and will not work in your instance. You may be prompted to call MS for activation. This should not be a problem as you are doing a reinstall on the same machine using the same key.

Let us know how you make out.

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January 30, 2010 at 16:50:11
Its a Dell inspiron 1520 with a windows vista home premium OEMct

So i would need to contact dell or microsoft as the hidden partition has been formated although they still have the product code sticker under the laptop with the serial stilll visable.

Are all OEM versions the same because if so i could get one and just use the original product code or are they tied to different companies like dell,acer and mesh etc

See what i am thinking is if i am going to repair some computers i need the easiest legal way to reinstall a operating system as most people come here with no disk and a lot have been messed with or the hidden partition either formatted or unacessable
but they all have the product key on the side of their case or laptops

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January 30, 2010 at 17:25:11
Insofar as you are not pirating the legal license authorized on the machines you are fixing you'd be fine. Install the software & skip the key/auto activation part during the install.

When you have the machine setup the way you/your clients want it, then enter the product key & activate the install with the applicable key for each PC you work on.

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January 30, 2010 at 17:32:45
yes but what software because its an OEM version i would need an OEM vista disc and cant use a retail one or can I

or do i need The Dell Operating System Reinstallation CD/DVD

I am looking for the quickest legal way

ie someone comes to me with a laptop that was bought with say windows home but did not have a disk or hidden partition but had their sticker with the product code on the back of it and it was an OEM what is the best way to format and with what ie retail or oem

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January 31, 2010 at 12:16:36
The disc is not what you are paying for since you do not own the OS, you are only paying for the license to use it. And OEM or not, the OS looks & feels the same once installed.

Quick or not, there's only one way to be legal. And it involves activating your Windows installation with the key tied to the applicable license. You're making this overly complicated than it should be, if you need to call the activation line for one reason or the other, then do so.

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January 31, 2010 at 14:45:42
I can call no problem but thats not what i am saying i will try and explain as simple as i am lol

someone buys a dell laptop with say vista home pre installed with the backup on a hidden partition and the product serial on a sticker under the laptop

it develops a fault and the person and every man and his dog tries to fix it as they do

they cant and send it to me but i find the system has been wiped/formated and the hidden partition is no longer there but the sticker with the product key is

now before i call to activate it i need it to be installed and i dont have the backup as its been wiped so what are my options
ie will a retail disc be ok to install then activate using their serial on bottom of the laptop or will it have to be oem

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January 31, 2010 at 15:49:49
I am afraid you have it wrong. The sticker on the bottom of the computer is not a product key for the operating system preinstalled. The key on the sticker is merely the Certificate of Authenticity ID which attest that the Windows running on the machine is genuine. Unlike retail version, the product key is actually SLP that is embedded in BIOS. See link below for better explanation.



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February 1, 2010 at 14:46:19
So when someone puts a del laptop with pre-installed vista home premium into a computer shop for repair and say either the hdd has to be replaced or its been wiped

what do they do with regards to getting the operating system and serial back for the customer that he has already paid for.

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February 1, 2010 at 22:15:11
"Activating Windows before Shipping to a Customer

Most customers can easily manage activation after receiving their computers. But if you prefer, you can activate the software on behalf of your customers, making it easier for them to start using their new computers. After activation is completed, most users will not need to activate their installation again.

To activate Windows for your customer, use the unique Product Key from the certificate of authenticity (COA) label that is affixed to the specific computer, and activate the computer on behalf of the end user. Run the sysprep /oobe command to prepare the computer for delivery to the customer."


"What is a Certificate of Authenticity (COA) label?

A Certificate of Authenticity (COA) label helps you and your customers identify genuine Microsoft Windows software. Without it, your customers will not have a legal license to run their Windows software.

Each COA label includes advanced anti-counterfeiting features to help verify the software's authenticity. The COA label is included with each individual software license. For preinstalled Microsoft Windows operating systems, the COA label must be affixed by the system builder to the PC chassis. The COA label also includes the product key, which will be needed in the event the operating system needs to be reinstalled. COA labels must be distributed as part of the full System Builder software license, which also includes the hologram CD and documentation.

A COA is not a software license. It is a visual aid that helps in determining whether Microsoft software is genuine. A COA should never be purchased, sold, or distributed by itself without the software it authenticates. COA labels cannot be distributed as standalone items. Get more information about the COA."


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February 2, 2010 at 03:37:57
In answer to the OPs original question, as far as I'm aware, OEM
and retails disks are the same and it's only when you put the
key in that the system decides what version is being installed.
It's the same situation with Win7. There's a good walkthrough
HERE that explains the process in detail.

"I've always been mad, I know I've been mad, like the most of us..."

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February 2, 2010 at 13:43:23
great looks like all vista discs are the same oem and retail and all have all versions of vista on them ie basic, home, premium and ultimate just choose which when you install.

only thing i need to do is add the customers serial number which is on the sticker but i will always check on the computer to confirm this first.

well thats what it says in johnr,s link so i hope its correct although i am slightly worried because XpUser said The sticker on the bottom of the computer is not a product key for the operating system preinstalled unless he ment something else

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February 5, 2010 at 14:27:16
sorry to be a pain but i have one last question

If i buy a second hand computer with windows xp pre installed ie through dell am i also buying the licence

what i am thinking if doing is looking at ebay/car boots etc for the cheapest old computers i can find and stripping them down and if some come with a operating disc is this transferable to say another computer.

my thinking would be retail disc ok but oem not

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