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Use Your Windows 7 OEM Key On A Fresh Install Of Windows

Over the last couple of days I have been attempting to rehab a five year old laptop for my 11 year old son to use. As the system hard disk had been corrupted while sitting idle, making the restore partition useless, I had no option but to install a fresh copy from a downloaded Windows 7 Home Premium ISO.

I first started by going to the official Windows 7 ISO download page which required a key, so I inputted my OEM key and a message came back “The product key you entered appears to be for software pre-installed by the device manufacturer. Please contact the device manufacturer for software recovery options.” Obviously I already knew it’s a pre-installed/OEM key as I read it off the bottom of the laptop.

This meant that I had to find an alternative source for the Windows 7 ISO as Digital River no longer has direct downloads available, so we are left with using torrent sites. I used the following links; Windows 7 Home Premium (64bit) or Windows 7 Home Premium (32bit). Please note: I make no guarantee that these links are safe, use them at your own risk. I used the 64 bit link and it appears to be legitimate.

Now, install Windows as normal from the DVD or USB thumb-drive you created from the downloaded ISO, but when you reach the license key screen, click on “skip” which allows you to install Windows without a license key. Once you have completed the installation, install your network/wireless drivers and connect to the Internet, simply open system properties and click the “Change Product Key” link.

You then input for OEM license key into the dialogue box that pops up and it checks with the Windows authentication server and it should, assuming it is a legitimate license key come back as genuine.

[Update: March, 18, 2016]: I also discovered that this method works for a Windows 10 clean install, instead of system properties, goto START » Settings » Activation » Change Product Key. It will accept your Windows 7, 8 or 8.1 key, no need to do an upgrade to Windows 10 from Windows 7, 8 or 8.1 anymore.

5 thoughts on “Use Your Windows 7 OEM Key On A Fresh Install Of Windows

  • matt commented on January 15, 2017 at 04:46

    would it not come back saying the key is already been used since it was a pre installed windows that went with the key?

  • matt commented on January 15, 2017 at 04:48

    I’m in the same boat right now. Downloading a windows 7 Iso hoping my key on the bottom sticker of my old laptop will be able to activate it.

  • All I can tell you is that it worked as described 10 months ago, I only installed Windows 7 to get the free upgrade to Windows 10.

  • maya commented on August 13, 2017 at 14:35

    I’m a 60 year old grandma and this all seems a little confusing. So, I need to copy and paste the iso file into a usb and just boot it up normally on my pc? Can you explain that process in more detail? I also got the “The product key you entered appears to be for software pre-installed by the device manufacturer. Please contact the device manufacturer for software recovery options.” when I checked with microsoft, even though I have a windows pro 7 key sticker on my pc. Also, how did you install your network/wireless drivers and connect to the Internet? Sorry for all the trouble!

  • Maya, I opened the ISO file in Windows and copied the contents of the ISO onto the formatted USB stick. However you can use a bootable USB creator, such as Rufus, see instructions here. I put the network/wifi drivers on the same USB stick as the windows install files, which allowed me to install them once Windows 7 was installed, prior to activation of Windows, then once the drivers were installed, I could activate as described above. You should be able to find the drivers for your network hardware on your computer manufacturers website. You might get lucky and Windows will install network drivers for you when installing Windows.

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