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The last Official Windows 7 .iso released by Microsoft was the Windows 7 SP1 Media Refresh 2011 Commercial OEM and Retail .iso. Its heavily outdated and doesn’t have native driver support for newer hardware. While it can be updated the procedure is rather cumbersome… Slipsteam of the Convenience Rollup (Pseudo Service Pack 2), Internet Explorer 11, NVM express and USB 3.0 support.
To alleviate these issues Dell released a Windows 7 64 Bit Professional .iso for 6th Generation Intel Skylake systems with additional driver support in particular NVMe and USB 3.1. This includes Internet Explorer 11 and is updated to January 2016.
This guide focuses on Intel 6th generation Skylake hardware only. This particular guide does not support Non-Pro Windows Editions. If someone purchased a Skylake system with Windows 10 Home they do not have Downgrade Rights and cannot buy a genuine Windows 7 License as its long reached End of Retail Sales.
- This .iso listed also works with 1st-5th generation Dell systems shipped with Windows 7 Pro OEM, Windows 8.x Pro OEM and Windows 10 Pro OEM.
- The remaining instructions assume a Skylake System and hence only focus on installation using a UEFI BIOS. 3rd-6th generation Intel System have a UEFI BIOS. 1st generation systems will not have a UEFI BIOS and 2nd generation systems may or may not have a UEFI BIOS (requires latest BIOS Update on some models).
Dell Intel-Based Hardware
Dell Intel-Based Hardware is always on the advance.
Dell use the name 3xxx (good), 5xxx (very good), 7xxx (excellent) and 9xxx (Xtreme Performance System) to determine the grade of systems within the following product ranges; OptiPlex Desktops, Vostro Desktops, Inspiron Desktops, XPS Laptops, Latitude Laptops, Vostro Laptops and Inspiron Laptops.
Likewise Intel utilise the names i3 (good), i5 (very good) and i7 (excellent) processors. One can gauge the age of their hardware by looking at their processor model number.
I’ll demonstrate this using a few example models and look at the BIOS type, USB type and storage controller type:
- Westmere – 1st Generation e.g. i7-860 (XPS 8100 Early 2010) – SATA2 – USB 2.0 – Legacy BIOS
- Sandy Bridge – 2nd Generation e.g. i7-2600 (XPS 8300 Early 2011) – SATA2 & SATA3 – USB 2.0 – Legacy BIOS
- Ivy Bridge – 3rd Generation e.g. i7-3770 (XPS 8500 Mid 2012) – SATA3 & mSATA – USB 2.0 & USB 3.0 – UEFI BIOS
- Haswell – 4th generation e.g. i7-4770 (XPS 8700 Mid 2013) – SATA3 & mSATA – USB 3.0 – UEFI BIOS
- Broadwell – 5th generation e.g. i7-5500 (XPS 13 9343 Early 2015) – NVMe & USB 3.0 – UEFI BIOS
- Skylake – 6th generation e.g. i7-6700 (XPS 8900 Mid 2015 & XPS 8910 Mid 2016) SATA3 & NVMe – USB 3.1 – UEFI BIOS
- Kaby Lake – 7th generation. These are just coming out however they are released after the 31/10/2016 which was the End of Windows 7 OEM sales. It is likely and somewhat ironic that the 7th generation i7 will not support Windows 7.
Needless to say Microsoft don’t follow Dell or Intel’s Logical Numbering Scheme with the exception to Windows 7 being one of their best Operating Systems of all time. They have instead; Windows Vista (Poor), Windows 7 (Excellent), Windows 8 (Abysmal), Windows 8.1 (Acceptable with Minor Annoyances) and Windows 10 (Excellent).
Common Issues using the 2011 Installation Media Windows 7 Installation Media on 2011-2016 Hardware
As hardware advances newer drivers are needed in order for Windows to recognise and utilise input devices and recognise the storage controller to copy Windows Installation Files to the HDD/SSD and Later Load Windows. Microsoft have been way behind the times and failed to update their Windows 7 Installation Media in accordance to Intel Hardware. If one tries to use outdated installation media on a modern system the mouse and keyboard may not be responsive on the first screen because no USB 3.0 drivers are present:
If one manages to get by this screen by use of a USB 2.0 port or Laptop Touchpad/Keyboard (or have USB 3.0 drivers included in their installation media). They may reach an additional hurdle and get the following error message due to the lack of SATA preinstallation drivers meaning the Windows setup cannot access the Storage Controller for the HDD/SSD during installation:
“A required CD\DVD drive device driver is missing. If you have a driver floppy disc, CD, DVD, or USB flash Drive, please insert it now. Note: If the Windows installation media is in the CD/DVD drive, you can safely remove it for this step.”
This may be resolved by loading SATA preinstallation drivers or slipstreaming them into the Windows Installation Media.
Note: This error message also shows if the installation .iso downloaded is incomplete/corrupt or the Bootable USB made is likewise corrupted. For this reason .iso checksums are present later on to reduce these chances.
The 6th generation Skylake .isos should have the USB 3.1, SATA preinstallation drivers and NVMe updates required for Skylake systems to install using the Advanced Host Controller Interface (AHCI) SATA operation.
It is possible that new NVMe SSDs released in 2017 or later will not be recognised by Skylake Windows 7 Installation Media as they will lack SATA preinstallation drivers. Windows 7 has reached End of OEM sales so the necessary drivers for newer hardware may not be created by OEMs.
Dell OEM Licensing and Downgrade Rights
The Dell Windows 7 Skylake Reinstallation .isos in this guide will apply Dell OEM System Locked Preinstallation. This is an automatic Offline Dell BIOS based activation mechanism. The key on the COA is not needed for this type of activation:
To prevent the COA from fading the COA is likely residing in the battery compartment of Laptops and inside the computer cover of Desktops.
New UEFI Systems may utilise OEM Downgrade Rights and hence lack a Windows 7 Pro COA. The Dell Windows 7 Professional Reinstallation .iso will activate on Dell systems sold with Windows 10 Pro or Windows 8.1 Pro:
Official Dell Windows 7 Reinstallation .isos for 6th Generation Skylake Systems Only
A list of Dell Skylake Systems are here. This list should also include the XPS systems such as the XPS 8900, XPS 8910 and XPS 13 9350.
As Windows 7 has reached End of OEM Sales typically only Windows 7 Professional Licenses are sold with these systems and this utilises downgrade rights from Windows 10 Pro or Windows 8.1 Pro. 64 Bit Windows is standard.
- There are hence no Windows 7 Home Premium or Windows 7 Ultimate .isos available for Download.
- Modern systems will not have any 32 Bit drivers hence there is no 32 Bit Skylake .iso available for Download. There appears to be a 32 Bit Skylake .iso but I don’t have it to hand and so have limited details on it.
The Skylake .iso image is available to Download Officially if and only if you ordered your new Dell system with Windows 7 Professional Preinstalled.
Go to dell.co.uk (or .com) and select Support → For Work:
Input your service tag:
Decline or accept any surveys (optional):
Select Drivers and Downloads to the Left and “Find it Myself” to the right:
If a Dell Operating System Download is available for your system it will display here (older non-Skylake systems don’t have an Official Download option):
Expand Download Operating System Recovery Image and select Download Operating System Recovery Image:
The following link should take you to the same place:
Enter your verification and check the Service Tag is correct:
The .iso should be a direct download:
There appear to be multiple different Skylake .isos depending on your region.
The first is Windows 7 Professional 64 Bit English only:
This .iso has 192 updates included with the latest update being KB3124001. Since this update was released on Jan 12 2016 we can call this the Dell Windows 7 Professional English Only January 2016 Skylake .iso.
The second is Windows 7 Profession 64 Bit Multi-Language:
This .iso has 192 updates included with the latest update being KB3124001. Since this update was released on Jan 12 2016 we can call this the Dell Windows 7 Professional Multi-Language January 2016 Skylake .iso.
Because the .iso is only available as a direct download and no checks are made to ensure the .iso integrity is intact the .iso checksums should be verified. They can be checked with Rufus (which we will also use to make the Bootable USB):
Rufus doesn’t need to be installed. Launch Rufus:
Select yes at the user account control prompt.
Select the load .iso icon:
Select your .iso and select open:
This will give you the .iso checksums:
This will give you the .iso checksum which should match below.
If it is different you will have an incomplete/corrupt download.
WGC5Y_2FR1DA00_W7SP1PRO64_ENG.iso (4,662,522 KB) otherwise known as the Dell Windows 7 Professional 64 Bit English Only January 2016 Skylake .iso.
- MD5: c3bf0b9562a9bd9db7b8600163ff9e33
- SHA1: 2785cf6a322ecc5979b1a6a179e4e797d5d64d25
- SHA256: a91d80ba6d937069c113961abe1b08771a0961b2daf23d69d0c795bea3d22291
G13K9_PW4KGA00_W7SP1PRO64_ROW(DL).iso (7,404,138 KB) otherwise known as the Dell Windows 7 Professional 64 Bit Multi-Language January 2016 Skylake .iso.
- MD5: d363f535afae79139fe8632702613ffb
- SHA1: f52615d64ebe9b7c7aeb754746356bc3a052c415
- SHA256: 2bfa2ebbee84804c8e643bf829644e6c5ef373e63bdeae3a6ac927d371f4c0d0
Unofficial Dell Windows 7 Reinstallation .isos for 6th Generation Skylake Systems Only
Unofficially the November 2015 Multi-Language Skylake .iso is available here:
The .iso checksum matches the above.
Create a Bootable USB Flash Drive
Insert a 16 GB USB Flash Drive and launch Rufus:
Select yes at the user account control prompt.
Select the load .iso icon:
Select your .iso and select open:
For a Skylake system ensure the partition scheme is GPT for UEFI is selected and the file system is FAT32:
You will get a warning informing you that data on your USB will be wiped. Select OK:
Wait for Rufus to make your Bootable USB you will see the green progress bar:
When its finished it will say Ready.
Unified Extensive Firmware Interface (UEFI) Settings
Before using this Bootable USB you should enter your UEFI BIOS setup:
- Windows 7 requires Secure Boot to be Disabled as it does not have an Updated Microsoft Signature to pass Secure Boot.
- Legacy ROMs have to be Enabled to install Windows 7 64 Bit.
64 Bit Operating Systems including Windows 7 can have a UEFI Boot which should be used in preference to a Legacy Boot.
- 32 Bit Operating Systems cannot have a UEFI Boot and hence require a Legacy Boot. A Legacy Boot requires Legacy Roms.
For more details see Unified Extensive Firmware Interface.
To install Windows 7 see Windows 7 Installation in a UEFI BIOS or Legacy BIOS.
Notes on Windows Update
As mentioned 192 Updates are preinstalled taking this Windows Installation Media up to date until January 2016:
Microsoft have been releasing Monthly Quality Rollups for Windows 7. The Latest one at this time of writing will give you all the Security Updates until the 23rd of November 2016 and can be obtained from the Microsoft Update Catalog:
Simply download the .msu file and install it then restart your computer when prompted.