Eric Lundgren, a recycling entrepreneur, has been sentenced to 15 months in prison for duplicating Dell Restore CDs, which contain Microsoft software. All he wanted to do was extend the life of old computers.
Any of us who want to make a clean install of Windows on our old Dell computer without the original Dell Restore CD are taking the same risk.
Link to the Washington Post (pay site):
One could buy the copy of Windows of which one wishes to make a clean install. One would not then have that risk.
Correct, but the PC originally had an installation of Windows, so why are we paying twice?
If you buy a computer from Bestbuy you pay for the OS thats on there but you actually don't get a copy of it, and with some checking i found out that they use the same serial numbers on a lot of their PC's. They partition the drive and the files are on there. Its simple and a legal way they can get away with it. So I owned a computer store and i always had the customer pay for an OS and they did get the cd also. I got a phone call from Microsoft to stop using my store copy of the OS on customers pc's. I was told in no uncertain terms that if i didn't use the customers cd and serial i would lose my license. I mentioned what Bestbuy does and they simply hung up. I didn't want to open up all the cd's and then have to put them back into the box and maybe lose them. Luckily we found a way to keep them happy...no i still didn't use the customers cd to install the OS.
So when you buy from Bestbuy you only pay once but you have nothing to show for it...lol
That's the first time that I hear something like this. It is legal to obtain a copy of the window operating system, what it count is the license. Unless he was trying to active window with a pirated license. in my book if you buy a new PC the operating system should be included.( you can make copy and the cd must have no Microsoft log in it, or trying to make any profit )
What do you do if you need to install window again on your Pc with out the cd?
He copied "Dell Restore" CDs that contained MS Windows plus Dell's proprietary software. Probably because the PCs he was restoring did not have the original discs with them. A lot of people misplace them and don't include them when sold.
Also, most of those "Refurbished" PCs you see for sale were formerly owned by corporations and had the hard drives "Ghosted"(?) so that all the units were identical for proper networking, etc. Many companies Format the hard drives to remove ALL data. This makes it absolutely necessary to install an OS. Probably repeated registering of the same license key(s) got him caught.
If you make a clean install with a VALID MS CD - it is not a risk. At least, if that is the only unit it is on.
This is a computer term for making multiple installations from a single image. Most larger corporations create a base image and then 'ghost' all of their workstations utilizing a single Volume License Key so that the installed images are legal with Microsoft. What happens with the original CD that has the single seat? That is up for discussion.
I have bought two laptops which had a "hidden" partition which is/was supposed to let me restore the laptop in case of a complete OS failure. No OS CD offered with the laptop purchase.
Maybe it's me, but there was no blo*dy way I could get into this partition and I am not computer illiterate.
After that I did a complete low level format and started from absolute scratch!
I managed to buy a set of three CD's from the manufacturer to let me re-install all.
Those partitions are usually accessible by using the Restore functions.
I do know that, doing the F8 got me to the restore function but nevertheless it did nothing to restore!
Some manufacturers allow you to create recovery media. I prefer restoring from a recovery CD, DVD or USB than recovering directly from the HD. If my HD is fried, bye bye recovery partition.
By the way, what do you mean by "it did nothing to restore"?
Back in 2005 (when I purchased a Dell Inspiron laptop), I used a partition utility to unhide the partition and make it accessible. I can then extract the recovery data.
Back then Dell did not even provide a way for their customers to create a recovery media. I managed to create a recovery CD but never get to use it. I called Dell and asked them to send me WinXP OS setup media. Been using that media to clean install XP Home with zero bloatware.
Just as I said it got to the " restore" hit enter and that's all she wrote! Regardless how often I tried.
I betcha, not too many here even know how to or why to do a low level format and what to do next!
I go back to the days when you did not just pop a card or a hard drive into the motherboard, you needed to know how to configure it. Even though the need to be able to work with DOS is diminishing, I can still use DOS.
[Even though the need to be able to work with DOS is diminishing, I can still use DOS.
I imagine you actually mean you can work at the command line. There is no DOS on any remotely modern Windows OS. Despite the appearance, the command line is not in fact DOS.
What is wrong with using a copy of Windows off ebay then using the CD Key from the label on the side of the computer. Never had a problem Activating it online with Microsoft
If any old timers remember that command, then I don't feel so alone.
Using the DOS debug command back in the days of ESDI, MFM and RLL drives (I feel old!), you had to run that command to get into the BIOS to initiate a low level format of the drive. I remember reading the stickers on the top of the drive selecting the ones with the least amount of defective sectors... A 120 MB RLL drive was the thing to have when you needed storage. This was only in the mid 1908s.
This is ridiculous. If you bought a computer that has an OS, then you should also have the right to that OS on your computer. In the event that you have to restore the computer and cannot access the restore partition, you should be able to install windows using the key that you purchased. Generally you can either get restore CDs or the restore files on a USB for your system by contacting the manufacturer.
Correct, but there is no need to get it from Ebay. Download the .iso file from Microsoft:
We used to be able to look at the label in Windows 7, but not for OEM installs like Dell. The number on the Dell label which appears to be the Windows key to be entered during the install, is not the key! It is worthless. Also the key cannot be seen anywhere inside Windows prior to formatting the hard drive for a clean install.
But all is not lost! See -
This was only in the mid 1908s.
You are real old! Lol.
... A 120 MB RLL drive was the thing to have when you needed storage. This was only in the mid 1908s.
The 1980s was the 1908s in computer years!
1. Open Notepad.
2. Copy and paste the following text between the = lines beginning with "Option Explicit" and end with "End Function" into the Notepad.
Dim objshell,path,DigitalID, Result
Set objshell = CreateObject("WScript.Shell")
'Set registry key path
Path = "HKLMSOFTWAREMicrosoftWindows NTCurrentVersion"
'Registry key value
DigitalID = objshell.RegRead(Path & "DigitalProductId")
'Get ProductName, ProductID, ProductKey
ProductName = "Product Name: " & objshell.RegRead(Path & "ProductName")
ProductID = "Product ID: " & objshell.RegRead(Path & "ProductID")
ProductKey = "Installed Key: " & ConvertToKey(DigitalID)
ProductData = ProductName & vbNewLine & ProductID & vbNewLine & ProductKey
'Show messbox if save to a file
If vbYes = MsgBox(ProductData & vblf & vblf & "Save to a file?", vbYesNo + vbQuestion, "BackUp Windows Key Information") then
'Convert binary to chars
Const KeyOffset = 52
Dim isWin8, Maps, i, j, Current, KeyOutput, Last, keypart1, insert
'Check if OS is Windows 8
isWin8 = (Key(66) 6) And 1
Key(66) = (Key(66) And &HF7) Or ((isWin8 And 2) * 4)
i = 24
Maps = "BCDFGHJKMPQRTVWXY2346789"
j = 14
Current = Current* 256
Current = Key(j + KeyOffset) + Current
Key(j + KeyOffset) = (Current 24)
Current=Current Mod 24
j = j -1
Loop While j >= 0
i = i -1
KeyOutput = Mid(Maps,Current+ 1, 1) & KeyOutput
Last = Current
Loop While i >= 0
If (isWin8 = 1) Then
keypart1 = Mid(KeyOutput, 2, Last)
insert = "N"
KeyOutput = Replace(KeyOutput, keypart1, keypart1 & insert, 2, 1, 0)
If Last = 0 Then KeyOutput = insert & KeyOutput
ConvertToKey = Mid(KeyOutput, 1, 5) & "-" & Mid(KeyOutput, 6, 5) & "-" & Mid(KeyOutput, 11, 5) & "-" & Mid(KeyOutput, 16, 5) & "-" & Mid(KeyOutput, 21, 5)
'Save data to a file
Dim fso, fName, txt,objshell,UserName
Set objshell = CreateObject("wscript.shell")
'Get current user name
UserName = objshell.ExpandEnvironmentStrings("%UserName%")
'Create a text file on desktop
fName = "C:Users" & UserName & "DesktopWindowsKeyInfo.txt"
Set fso = CreateObject("Scripting.FileSystemObject")
Set txt = fso.CreateTextFile(fName)
3. Save the text above to a file with the ".vbs" extension on the Desktop. To make sure that you saving the file correctly with the ".vbs" extension, you can type its name enclosed in double quotes, for example, "BackupWindowsKey.vbs".
4. Now open your BackupWindowsKey.vbs file and your product key is displayed on the screen!
To get your windows key by using a command prompt do the following:
1. Open a command prompt
2. Type the following command and press enter:
wmic path softwarelicensingservice get OA3xOriginalProductKey
Can those who write code comment on whether copying and pasting such a text string into Notepad might create unwanted characters such as spaces or carriage returns?
Your right i forgot you can download it these days...thanks
The CD key isn't readily available because for Windows XP, Vista, and 7 manufacturers have been using SLP (System Locked Pre-installation) in BIOS/UEFI to verify the install as legitimate. Computers running Windows 8, 8.1, and 10 if I recall correctly don't use SLP. Instead, the actual key is stored in the BIOS/UEFI. This is why Windows 8 and later do not have COA keys on the outside of the computer.
SLP is what Dell and most other manufacturers used on Windows computers. SLP is used to factory activate pre-installed copies of Windows on its PCs and laptops so the end user doesn't have to, which would be annoying. The BIOS/UEFI has the firmware portion of SLP, referred to as SLIC (Software Licensing Internal Code). SLIC has multiple versions, each version defining which versions of Windows could be installed without requiring a key. What isn't mentioned much, if at all, is that clean installations using a manufacturer-customized installation disk triggers SLP. The SLIC in BIOS/UEFI verifies that the copy of Windows is for the manufacturer's PC, and once verified activates Windows without a key.
For Windows XP through 7, using a Microsoft .ISO would not trigger SLP, and thus you would have to know the key. Utilities are readily available if you don't want to use panama's visual basic code to get the key. It's better to get a manufacturer-customized disc if at all possible. This is why for all the Dell computers I have I made sure to order a set of discs.
...Utilities are readily available if you don't want to use panama's visual basic code to get the key...
I purchased a Dell factory refurb desktop from a large retail computer store that had a clean install of Windows 7 and Dell software. It came with a small hard drive and no Dell Recovery CD. I wanted to remove the hard drive and install a new SSD and use the .iso file to install Windows 7.
The PC had a Dell label with what seemed to be a key on it, but this did not work for Windows activation. Running the old hard drive I used a utility readily available on the internet advertised to reveal the encrypted Windows key, and it did that. However, that key did not work.
I solved the problem by running Acronis True Image to make an image of the original hard drive and install it on the new SSD. It worked perfectly!
I am wondering whether Panama's code works or spits out another bogus key. It might work correctly to reveal the key of a retail-box Windows install, but possibly not a Dell OEM version.
I forgot about that with the OEM key. You also have to back up the activation certificate in order to clean install Windows 7 without benefit of the OEM disc.
See this blog post on how to do it.
I read the blog post expecting to solve the problem by backing up the activation certificate. However, it is so convoluted that I doubt it has ever been done, with no guarantee that it would ever succeed. It would be far easier to NEVER BUY A DELL!
I did it myself, using the top program in the blog post. The bottom program though doesn't require a backup of the activation certificate.
One thing the blog doesn't make clear is only one of the three programs is required.
As of Windows 8 the point is moot anyway as everything needed to activate is stored in the BIOS/UEFI or is tied to the motherboard.
Thanks for the blog. It is highly technical and I never thought that this could be accomplished.
Tool 3, Raymond.cc’s Windows 7 OEM License Installer, is especially helpful since it can deal with a failed installation of Windows.
THAT one was intentional!
Download the .iso file from Microsoft:
We used to be able to look at the label in Windows 7, but not for OEM installs like Dell. The number on the Dell label which appears to be the Windows key to be entered during the install, is not the key! It is worthless.
That download will not work with OEM CD key (like the one on Dell label). It will work with retail keys.
Yeah, I saw that tool and thought to myself, "s#!^, I wish I had seen that before using Activation Backup and Restore. Would have made my life a lot easier." Of course, it's a moot point now unless I decide to buy a Windows 7 laptop at a thrift store or similar. All computers in my house run Windows 10 and were either upgraded during the one-year free window or came with it preinstalled.
A Windows DVD is generic. There is nothing there that will activate the license. You can install the OS from the DVD or a USB drive that you have loaded a downloaded copy of Windows on. The PC is activated when the OS is first installed. If you replace a hard drive and reload THE SAME VERSION (7, 8, 10: home, pro, whatever) of Windows OS by ANY means it will automatically reactivate online because its ID is in online database. The ID contains info on the motherboard and other parts and is still valid if a few parts are changed - especially the HDD. Not sure what the whole criterion is but it used to be 3 parts and would allow maybe 2 to be replaced.
Every computer comes with instructions on creating restore DVDs. They are NOT original. The only problem with these is that all the bloatware is there also.
Most ppl delete the bloatware. There is no contract that says you must keep the bloatware on your computer.
There must be more to this story. MAYBE, he was reinstalling an OS and activating it with a Dell VL because it was a Dell. He would not have needed to if it were the SAME OS as it came with. That would buy him a trial and sentence.
I have replaced many HDDs and reinstalled using a USB drive and a downloaded OEM version and only ones that previously had a version of Windows they did not come with did not auto activate.
Windows discs from Microsoft are generic. The versions offered by the OEMs are customized. That customization is usually found in a file named WINNT.SIF, though other methods of customization like custom .CAB files are also possible. What the computer refurbisher was offering was copies of OEM-customized discs.
I feel really bad for this person, especially since I am an advocate of reuse. Really have to be careful with software EULA, copyright, allowed usage, etc.
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