Continuing my SSD saga with windows installation. For what is worth, I have original Windows licenses with COA for all the new computers and laptops I purchased plus I even purchased and additional Windows license from DigitalRiver, as a student, for about $39. Unfortunately, that license was supposed to be for Windows Professional, as I ordered and was instead for Windows Home, which although at the same price point, lacked important functionality. I tried to contact the reseller to get the problem rectified but that was not possible (no response). Needless to say, I’m not as happy as one could be.
To finish my Windows 7 standalone (i.e., not included with system purchase) saga, I downloaded it off the DigitalRiver server and found it to be one or two ugly .exe files. Since then, they updated to an ISO that is much easier to deal with (download links below). As it turns out, all Windows 7 ISOs are essentially the same, except for a small ei.cfg file that can be eliminated from the iso via eicfg.exe utility (win7-iso-utils).
I plan to move my Windows 7 OS from a desktop that will become a server - to my laptop, where it belongs, on the SSD drive. A number of things can go wrong, however. For one thing, Linux (which I plan to run as server on the desktop machine) had constant problems on that computer, with very frequent kernel panics, followed by system freeze with keyboard lights flashing and then reboot. There may be a capacitor problem which Windows ignores and works around but Linux won’t allow. A closer inspection of the mobo (motherboard) revealed at least one capacitor busted, with another 4 almost there (but hopefully still functional). I already purchased a new capacitor to replace the busted one but did not order the other 4 as the space was too tight for me to read them.
If that does not work out however, I might have to move Windows 7 back and just keep using Windows 8 and its unpolished drivers, warts and all. This could cause activation problems, so I brushed up on activation backup methods (mdl):
Try the following trick to backup activation files for Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 R2, which has been previously been activated, prior to reinstallation. Note that the workaround should only be tried by users who want to clean install Windows, as if user (i.e. want to upgrade to bigger hard disk) makes a clone image of physical hard disk with Norton Ghost or Acronis True Image, all application programs, data, resources together with activation status will be automatically preserved.
- Copy and save or backup the following activation-related files to external storage medium such as USB flash drive or portable hard disk drive:
Note: For 64-bit (x64) OS, %SystemDrive%\Windows\SysWOW64\spp\tokens\pkeyconfig\pkeyconfig.xrm-ms have to be backed up too.
- Retrieve and record the product key used to install and activate the current Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 R2.
Tip: If you can’t remember the product key used, there is plenty of product key viewers available to help: Magical Jelly Bean Keyfinder, ProduKey, KeyFinder Thing, CD Key Reader). You can also reset Admin password (links below).
- Reinstall Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 R2. When installation wizard prompts for a product key for activation, leave it blank (do not enter anything).
- In the newly installed Windows operating system, stop the Software Protection Service in Services.msc or with the following command (run in elevated command prompt):
net stop sppsvc
- Navigate to the following folder:
Note: In 64-bit (x64) operating system, also perform the action in %SystemDrive%\Windows\SysWOW64\spp\tokens\pkeyconfig\ folder.
- Take ownership and give user full control permissions to pkeyconfig.xrm-ms file. (Tip: For directories, use takeown /f directory_name /r /d y | icacls directory_name /grand administrators:F /t and remove the /r and /t recursive switches for files. If you want a “Grant Admin Full Control” option in the right-click menu merge GrandAdminFullControl.reg into your registry.)
- Delete the original default pkeyconfig.xrm-ms file, and replace with the backup copy.
- Navigate to the following folder:
- Take ownership and give user full control permissions (alternatively add grant full control right click menu item) to tokens.dat file.
- Delete the original default tokens.dat file, and replace with the backup copy.
- Restart the Software Protection Service in Services.msc or with the following command (run in elevated command prompt):
net start sppsvc
- Register the product key for Windows 7 or Windows Server 2008 R2 with the following command (run in elevated command prompt):
slmgr.vbs -ipk xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx
Replace xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx with the actual product key.
- Windows will activate instantly, off-line. To check activation status, use one of the following commands:
Note that the ability to backup and restore old activation status in order to pre-activate or ready-activate a machine after re-installation must be on the same hardware without any hardware change, else user will need to activate online again. Besides, the product key used must be the same serial code too. The hack also does not apply to OEM branded computer which has Windows pre-activated and KMS host activated Windows system.
Alternatively, one could use Advanced Token Manager or 7Tokens Manager by John Cell. Truth be told, I am not too happy wasting too much time over this stuff, especially since I might not ever need it (hopefully). If I do, I’ll just click the links below.
If all fails and for some reason reactivation doesn’t work you have to contact Microsoft by phone. But what if you have a cold and can’t talk? There may be other methods to activate, but some people choose to bypass them altogether. Upon reading through a few forums, there seem to be a few major ones:
- KMS activation for corporate / VLK edition – you need to connect to a “KMS” server online (or on your computer using a virtual machine) to reactivate every 6 months or so (if you forget or can’t at that time, your SOL)
- BIOS patching – your BIOS firmware is actually patched (can render your computer unusable)
- Loader program – a program is loaded before Windows (great opportunity for a Rootkit infection)
- Continuous re-arming (no crack, just refresh the expiration/activation date)
I’m not advocating for any of the above methods, and in some lawyer-occupied countries they are illegal, but one should know they exist. As they all require detailed instructions and / or downloading a program, I will just link below. Hovering with your mouse over the links in Sources should tell you what they are.
In some instances, it may be possible to “bypass” even the aforementioned methods. Using the “SLIC Dump ToolKit” (SLIC3.2 below) as admin, select tab Advanced, check for version 2.1 and no red color in “PubKey”, “Marker” and “Digital Signature”. If yes, you only need to install a certificate that matches your SLIC and a valid OEM SLP key. You will have to download certificates (certs below), put the correct one in c:\, run cmd as admin and type slmgr -ilc C:\NAME.xrm-ms (where NAME is the file name), hit Enter and wait for confirmation message.
BIOS modification has the potential to make your computer unusable. To employ it, run dxdiag, look for your BIOS type then look in the mods or mod requests forum. Download it, flash your motherboard, install a certificate that matches the SLIC brand of your BIOS, install an OEM SLP key that matches your edition of Windows. You may also use OpaTool to accomplish these goals. Note that the certificate must match your SLIC’s brand.
The most widely used method is probably 3, with a loader program engaging Microsoft in a cat and mouse game of installing new loaders and Microsoft disabling them via Windows Update. It should involve the following steps:
- Download the ISO and check its authenticity using the checksums below.
- Burn it to a DVD or explode it to a USB drive using Unetbootin or MS tool.
- Install Windows. If your HDD or SDD is not recognized, download its drivers on a USB and insert USB during install, then browse / rescan for driver, select it and press Next. During the installation, you do not need to enter any product key, just bypass the step when it asks for one. You might also uncheck the "activate online" checkbox.
- Install the “loader”. In case something goes wrong when restarting your computer, restart again while pressing Escape or the "R" key until you see the loader's menu, then select "Windows without loader" and press ENTER.
- Right-click computer then Properties (or Windows Key + Pause), scroll down and check activation status at the bottom. You might also try slmgr –dli / –xpr / –dlv.
After installing the loader, you may be unable to boot. If that’s the case, hold “R” or “C” during startup and when the loader menu appears choose “Windows without loader”. In Windows, uninstall the loader and try another one. Alternatively, you might have to boot with your Windows DVD and choose Repair your computer then in System Recover Options choose Command Prompt. Type then the following in sequence:
- Bootrec.exe /FixMbr
- Bootrec.exe /FixBoot
- Bootrec.exe /RebuildBcd
Press Enter after each then restart your computer. If that doesn’t do it, repeat and also enter Bootsect.exe /nt60 all /force.
Perhaps the safest and “most legal” is the continuous rearming method. This involves using a Windows feature which allows prolonging the 30-day grace period for activation indefinitely. You might want to check with a lawyer, but this method does not seem to be illegal even under DMCA, since it uses a built-in Windows function. Furthermore, Microsoft provide instructions on so doing in KB948472 and other documents. It involves the following steps:
- Create a batch file in notepad as admin and paste this code, then save the file as .bat, for instance delwpa.bat in the C:\ drive (root level):
reg load HKLM\MY_SYSTEM "%~dp0Windows\System32\config\system"
reg delete HKLM\MY_SYSTEM\WPA /f
reg unload HKLM\MY_SYSTEM
- Restart, press F8 right after BIOS to get to Advanced Boot Options
- Select Repair your Computer, enter your Login details and then Open Command Prompt.
- Enter C: then dir to list the files in root and you should see the file saved at 1). Execute it by typing its name followed by Enter. There should be some messages indicating success. Reboot.
- In regular Windows, run Command Prompt as administrator and enter the command slmgr /ipk <key> where <key> is your own key or one of the following, depending on your Windows 7 version: Show encrypted Windows Keys
- After reboot, check by running a command prompt as admin and executing slmgr /dlv. It should show Initial Grace Period for “license status” and time remaining: 30 days, with 4 remaining windows rearms. Now every 30 days you should execute slmgr /rearm.
A number of applications have sprung up to automate the above process. For Trilogy, the code resides in a “.cmd” file which must be executed with Administrator privileges. Here’s the “ad”:
- The only "interactive" solution to use windows 7 without patches, cracks, loaders, activators or leaked keys
- After you install IR5 only a task called "Rearm" is on your computer
- "IR5" task runs once every 30 days automatically and silently
- Always install IR5 when your computer will most likely be on so "Rearm" task can run or just manually rearm when needed
- IR5 keeps you in trial and in trial you are always genuine and all updates are safe to use
- Supports all Windows 7/Server 2008 R2, languages, versions, editions, 32/64bit
- Does not modify any system files and will never cause restart problems
- Developed by timesurfer MasterDisaster
There is also a .exe file archived in rr.rar though this is dangerous and I don’t see why anyone would try it.
Whatever you do, make sure you don’t break the law, or else you’ll end up like this daughter of an Arkansas judge.
Sources / More info: Show encrypted text