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Windows 10 Recommended
It is recommended to install the latest build of Windows 10 which is readily Downloadable from Microsoft and can be activated with your Windows 7 OEM Product Key opposed to using a version of Windows which has reached End of Mainstream Support and will reach End of Life in 2020. For more details see Windows OEM FAQs and Downloads.
Windows 7 Home Premium OEM and Ultimate OEM
This particular guide will take you through the necessary workarounds to install Windows 7 Home Premium (with a faded COA) on a Dell System using the Dell Windows 7 Professional Skylake Reinstallation .iso. This .iso is multi-lingual and these workarounds should work for other OEMs and other Editions of Windows. The workarounds will also work for generic Microsoft Installation .isos.
What is OEM SLP?
OEM SLP is an activation mechanism that allows major OEMs to rapidly deploy Windows without having to Manually Input 25 Digit Product Keys and make a phone call to Microsoft for every system they build.
Dell and Alienware, HP and Compaq, Lenovo and IBM, Acer, Gateway and Packard, Fujitsu, MSI, Samsung and Toshiba systems that shipped with Windows 7 preinstalled will all be activated from factory using OEM System Locked Preinstallation.
The COA is a sticker affixed to systems to indicate that they have a genuine Windows 7 OEM License. It tells you your Edition of Windows 7 and your 25 Digit Product Key. OEM SLP does not use the unique 25 digit product key found on your COA, so you can activate Windows 7 even if this COA has faded:
Check your battery compartment, OEMs such as Dell picked up on the issue of fading COAs and placed them there to reduce the likelihood of fading:
The BIOS of the motherboard contains a System License Internal Code (SLIC) of 2.1. The installation media or factory image installs a generic Cert File (XrML Digital License) and inputs a generic OEM SLP key. If all matches Windows 7 activates.
Dell and Alienware, HP and Compaq, Lenovo and IBM, Acer, Gateway and Packard, Fujitsu, MSI, Samsung and Toshiba systems that shipped with Windows 8.0 Pro, Windows 8.1 Pro and Windows 10 Pro also contain a SLIC version of 2.1 which can be used for activation of Windows 7 Pro via OEM Downgrade Rights. In such cases you don’t have a unique Windows 7 Pro OEM key so must activate using OEM SLP:
Windows Installation Media
Due to Microsoft’s substandard Digital Deployment of Windows 7 as far as I know the only Windows 7 .iso readily available to Download is the Dell Skylake Windows 7 Reinstallation .iso.
Edition and EI.cfg
Windows Installation Media is normally Locked to a Specific OEM/Retail Edition but can easily be unlocked by deletion of a single file from a Bootable USB. Open up the USB in Windows Explorer:
Go to the sources folder:
Look for the EI.cfg file and delete it:
Select Yes when you are warned about permanently deleting it:
Once this file is deleted you will get the option to install all the Editions of Windows 7 present on the .iso:
You should install the correct Edition of Windows 7 matching your COA in this case Windows 7 Home Premium:
Alternatively you should install Windows 7 Pro if you have the following stickers:
If you have stickers like the above but without Pro you do not have OEM Downgrade Rights and this guide will not work for your hardware.
Updating your Installation Media
Due to the fact that only the Pro Edition is Updated:
It is advised to Slipstream the Convenience Rollup, IE11 and the necessary drivers for Windows 7 Installation onto up to 6th generation Intel Hardware. See Slipstreaming Windows 7 with the Slipstream Script. It will also save a great deal of hassle updating Windows after installation.
Windows Install – Skip The Product Key
During installation when you are asked for a Product Key Uncheck “Automatically Activate when I’m online” and select skip:
This will install Windows 7 without a Product Key allowing a 30 day trial.
One can check the Product ID and Activation status in system (go to Start, Right Click Computer and Select Properties). They should see that Windows 7 is not activated.
OEM Cert Collection
I have put together the OEM Cert Collection along with an associated 2 line script to install the Cert and Apply the associated OEM SLP Key. It is available as a .zip file here:
Right click the OEM SLP Major OEMs Cert and Script Collection.zip and extract:
Open the extracted folder and select your OEM e.g. in this case Dell:
Select your Edition of Windows in this case “Home Premium”:
And copy the OEM folder directly to the C:\ Drive:
Open the OEM folder:
Now right click the slp.cmd file and select Run as Administrator
Accept the User Account Control Prompt:
Select Ok again. Note your key will differ depending on your OEM and Edition of Windows:
Press any key e.g. e to continue (this will close the command prompt):
Right Click Computer and Select Properties:
Additional Check for a SLIC 2.1
If you can’t locate the stickers above you can install a program to check whether or not you have a SLIC 2.1.
If you don’t have a SLIC Version of 2.1 you will not be able to activate Windows 7 using OEM SLP.
You can use RW-Everything to manually determine whether or not your system has a SLIC.
To determine your SLIC launch RW-Everything and select Access → ACPI Tables:
Select the SLIC Tab:
Scroll down until you get the SLIC Marker Structure. You are interested in 2 fields:
- OEM ID
- SLIC Version
In this case the OEM is Dell and the SLIC Version is 2.1 making the system Eligible to Activate using Dell OEM SLP.
N.B. A SLIC Version of 2.0 is eligible for Windows Vista OEM SLP only.