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Despite these guides being Dell based. The instructions on this page should work for all Windows 7 OEM Licenses and Retail Licenses.
The Windows 7 SP1 .isos from Microsoft’s Techbench are unbranded and can hence be used with any Windows 7 OEM or Retail License. The ABR cert files are available for most OEMs allowing you to utilised OEM System Locked Preinstallation (Offline BIOS based Product Activation).
For Dell Systems updated Dell Windows 7 Reinstallation with PSP2 April 2016 Media Refresh .isos are recommended. These updated images are recommended for use in a Dell system as they have increased driver support and automatically apply Dell OEM System Locked Preinstallation. Details how to Update the Microsoft Commercial OEM or Microsoft Retail .isos will be given at the end of this guide.
The Free Upgrade to Windows 10 RS1
Microsoft are keen for you to Upgrade to Windows 10. The Upgrade is Free and you may directly Clean Install Windows 10 RS1 (version 1607) or later:
See Download Windows 10 RS1 OEM and Retail .iso for more details on Clean Installation (recommended) or alternatively Upgrading to Windows 10 RS1 for more details on Upgrading (less recommended due to performance losses).
- Windows 7 with Service Pack 1 OEM and Retail Downloads from Microsoft’s Techbench
- English Checksums and File Sizes
- Create a Bootable USB for a UEFI BIOS or Legacy BIOS
- OEM System Locked Preinstallation
- Deleting the EI.cfg File (optional)
- Installation Notes
There are 4 types of Windows 7 License that this guide covers:
- Windows 7 Major Partner OEM
- Windows 7 Commercial OEM
- Windows 7 Retail Upgrade Only
- Windows 7 Retail Full
OEM stands for Original Equipment Manufacturer. It is a cheaper Windows License that is sold to system builders to preinstall on a Device and then to sell on to their End Customer. Support for the Windows OS comes primarily from the OEM system builder and the caveat of this is the system builder can only support their own hardware as a consequence the Windows OEM License is forever tied to the systems motherboard.
Examples of Microsoft’s Major Partner OEMs are Dell, Alienware, Lenovo (including IBM), HP (including Compaq), ASUS, Acer (including Gateway, Packard Bell and eMachines), Samsung and Sony essentially vendors of all the Windows Devices you see on the high street market. Commercial OEMs may be local computer shops or companies who make low volume specialised hardware e.g. scientific instruments or medical devices.
The Microsoft’s Major OEM license is the most abundant type of Windows license as it comes preinstalled with most consumer and business computers. Unfortunately it is usually the most poorly covered license in most other Windows Installation Guides due to complications brought about by Microsoft regarding installation media. Microsoft expected Major OEMs to support it but forced a media reduction policy preventing OEMs from shipping physical installation media and also didn’t allow OEMs to provide download links for many years… My set of guides focus primarily on this license type, detailing some necessary unofficial workarounds and as a consequence are now at 9 million views… My guides also cover the Retail Licenses in some detail, specifically mentioning notes about the Retail Upgrade Only License and related problems associated with it due to the “Upgrade Only” restrictions made by Microsoft and lack of Downloadable Installation Media of Earlier Windows Versions to Upgrade from. “Upgrade Only” is a major flaw which these guides have flagged up for many years and a thing Microsoft abolished with Windows 10 TH2 (version 1511) and later.
You will also see the option to Download N Editions of Windows 7.
You may be thinking what is a European Commission N Edition?
Essentially some Eurocrat decided it’s anti-competitive (ironic) for Microsoft to prebundle media features within Microsoft Windows so with some red tape forced Microsoft to duplicate almost all the Editions of Windows again… Like many of the European Commission policies (such as the infamously annoying Browser Choice Update) these Editions are extremely unpopular even in European Countries. This annoyance essentially created more unnecessary Windows 7 Editions resulting in end-user confusion. As these Editions are extremely rare. OEM SLP mentioned in more detail later has not been tested with N Editions.
A Rant about BREXIT and the Future
Since I am from the United Kingdom and had to mention the annoyance of the European Commission even in technical Windows Installation Guides I will also leave a small side note on BREXIT and where I believe the United Kingdom should head.
On the 23rd of June 2016 citizens of the United Kingdom voted to LEAVE the European Union.
- Unfortunately our government hasn’t yet invoked article 50 yet.
- We look forward to re-engaging with the British Commonwealth and re-establishing our kindred Anglosphere links with Canada, Australia and New Zealand (CANZUK).
The instructions in this guide do not cover North Korean K or KN Editions:
No comment on North Korean bureaucracy except for the fact that it led to even more Editions of Windows 7. The instructions in this guide may or may not work for the North Korean Editions. This set of installation guides isn’t very popular in North Korea.
Dr Philip Yip, Dell Community Rockstar.
Windows 7 SP1 – Retail and Commercial OEM Download Links
Windows 7 Retail and Commercial OEM can be Downloaded from Microsoft’s Techbench. Unfortunately they broke the Techbench website last minute and it now asks for a Product Key… https://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/software-download/windows7 This would be fine if it worked correctly however…
For most product keys you will get the following error message:
“Error The product key you’ve entered appears to be for software which was pre-installed by the device manufacturer. Please contact the device manufacturer for software recovery options.”
With some keys you may get this error message:
“The product key you’ve entered appears to be for software which was licensed through an Enterprise Agreement. Please contact the Volume Licensing Service License Centre for Software Recovery Options or visit the Licensing Home Page for more information on Enterprise Agreements.”
If you are lucky! you may even get this error message:
“We encountered a problem processing your request. Please try again later.”
And if you are very lucky! Your key may actually work and give you the wrong language to download! Here is an English key bought in the UK:
To overcome this nuisance one can use Jan Krohn’s Microsoft Windows and Office .iso Downloader Tool. This is a utility that essentially fixes the flawed user interface allowing the generation of proper download links without the need to input your product key. These Download Links are to untouched .iso files stored on Microsoft’s servers.
One still has to have an eligible key for Product Activation or an eligible system with a BIOS certified by their OEM to run Windows 7.
Note the commercial OEM .isos directly downloaded from Microsoft do not apply automatic offline BIOS based OEM System Locked Preinstallation. This can be applied for Dell, Alienware, Lenovo (including IBM), HP (including Compaq), ASUS, Acer (including Gateway, eMachines and Packard Bell), Samsung, Sony, Toshiba, MSI and Fujitsu systems using the ABR program discussed later.
One should Create a Bootable USB using Rufus with these .isos.
Windows Update for Windows 7 has been broken for several months and you will waste many hours searching for Updates. Use the WSUS Offline Update to fully patch Windows 7 after installation. Windows Update will work after WSUS Offline Update has fully updated the Windows 7 Installation.
English File Sizes and Checksums
For Windows 7 – English UK and English US are the same “Language”.
The time and currency format and keyboard or input method can be selected for English UK or English US respectively:
The Microsoft Windows and Microsoft .iso Downloader Tool generates direct download links from Microsoft’s servers. It doesn’t check whether the .iso you downloaded is complete or not.
For the English .isos the file size is 2,504,372 KB for Windows 7 32 Bit and 3,243,070 KB for Windows 7 64 Bit. The file sizes are the same for all Editions of Commercial and Retail .isos (excluding European Commission N Editions) as the installation media is identical. The only file that differs from Edition to Edition is a small EI.cfg file found within the sources folder of the .iso (see Deleting the EI.cfg file at the End of this guide for more details).
The checksums can be checked with Rufus (which we will use later 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:
The English .isos they should match the following. If they do not you have an incomplete download.
Commerical OEM .isos
Win7_Starter_SP1_English_COEM_x32 (2,504,372 KB)
- MD5: c23c9cecee7e3093acfe00faab7091b5
- SHA1: e1653b111c4c6fd75b1be8f9b4c9bcbb0b39b209
- SHA256: a1cd61a1731b1deeda089c823c815454cb7a7de04b2b7f0cd4c171e31afb61b2
Win7_HomeBasic_SP1_English_COEM_x32.iso (2,504,372 KB)
- MD5: f760d5a0ed615c6a93829ebc84db2a0d
- SHA1: c1e663fa5138ccb08e07ccc5bab1d74d168e3452
- SHA256: e63637b39caf187ee3f7dd68c51cc0509157d58c498002933735992760fa4dfb
Win7_HomeBasic_SP1_English_COEM_x64.iso (3,243,070 KB)
- MD5: b650412b04de41f36a53ef7e0658a8b3
- SHA1: 72666801e3ce687625173a11e1a3e7ffed04f148
- SHA256: e2764cf9c06fc51e4f556bb6675a840d0e8e6bd507c938caac4ebccdf0ad771b
Win7_HomePrem_SP1_English_COEM_x32 (2,504,372 KB)
- MD5: ec49e3869291f2dc0aae53c21f3ac51a
- SHA1: f0991cbdbf87d54c3bf97e189f7a4a5aba692a59
- SHA256: 653c2a494f19c06ce33c9e0bec29ae2d07a0a736aa1712e87391126d64444047
Win7_HomePrem_SP1_English_COEM_x64 (3,243,070 KB)
- MD5: 1bfe92baeadf28092557ed80376938f9
- SHA1: 1e0cdfafb6a390e0e7e9f54ce99395ee42a59de0
- SHA256: 1dd79367c866573efd2de02ce331bac93a67d3395474d6911d2b28444d5ee3c0
Win7_Pro_SP1_English_COEM_x32 (2,504,372 KB)
- MD5: 296f892e1f9b66ef5836a54557309e94
- SHA1: a908cf84fd448c235945fb5b6e2ff232eb362575
- SHA256: f814b85295351e4ab902dc1777c5539f6d855c8997bea833277290bca0a5385b
Win7_Pro_SP1_English_COEM_x64 (3,243,070 KB)
- MD5: 39134fad6ccc6292a5e81a5dcedc4d13
- SHA1: 5998495086fde086b2c8a1e490d8f1cd1dcc99cc
- SHA256: 8341417c575adb92cd11a1f77666b6d6cbbcfc56855927407235983e838cfe83
Win7_Ult_SP1_English_COEM_x32 (2,504,372 KB)
- MD5: 02f83c24906fe8b8308cf21af7f39f0e
- SHA1: c511bf0de7632c47e8a2071acfe04637b498212d
- SHA256: ad3a17fbbd513083adf49606bd9779c561071837b04f5bf6b3d0ea2ea0c39407
Win7_Ult_SP1_English_COEM_x64 (3,243,070 KB)
- MD5: b00ccf47143f62486cecf467850e6c33
- SHA1: 37a6ed40d14428617c8fa196ec5448478db63bb9
- SHA256: 9a7ac3bad825996a3ef3b9efc0a8b9750961b730c5aab3df64a9fd10a6ba02f4
Win7_HomeBasic_SP1_English_x32 (2,504,372 KB)
- MD5: 706c0eb93af2fb3df98e22422c72182c
- SHA1: 080ec1de94b88b0f7e8d000690a4aaaa031e2719
- SHA256: d8fa5ea8cf67315fa6ce693ef0c70503df7e14258301585ebc28eb1c6c8d6216
Win7_HomePrem_SP1_English_x32 (2,504,372 KB)
- MD5: 0afa9359c62dc7b320205d3863c60385
- SHA1: 6071b4553fcf0ea53d589a846b5ae76743dd68fc
- SHA256: fe504356ac617baa572826a6fbf9ecba07cc498b3b79fcc6294a487f81fdd8e7
This .iso was called X17-58996.iso when it was hosted on Digital River before February 2015.
Win7_HomePrem_SP1_English_x64 (3,243,070 KB)
- MD5: da319b5826162829c436306bebea7f0f
- SHA1: 6c9058389c1e2e5122b7c933275f963edf1c07b9
- SHA256: c10a9da74a34e3ab57446cddd7a0f825d526da78d9796d442db5022c33e3cb7f
This .iso was called X17-58997.iso when it was hosted on Digital River before February 2015.
Win7_Pro_SP1_English_x32 (2,504,372 KB)
- MD5: 0bff99c8310ba12a9136e3d23606f3d4
- SHA1: d89937df3a9bc2ec1a1486195fd308cd3dade928
- SHA256: fd4cdf56e0087ac4a76d6858046f3ee50977d47917ca96366322e271ddd4838e
This .iso was called X17-59183.iso when it was hosted on Digital River before February 2015.
Win7_Pro_SP1_English_x64 (3,243,070 KB)
- MD5: ed15956fe33c13642a6d2cb2c7aa9749
- SHA1: 0bcfc54019ea175b1ee51f6d2b207a3d14dd2b58
- SHA256: 3dae1a531b90fa72e59b4a86b20216188d398c8c070da4a5c5a44fe08b1b6e55
This .iso was called X17-59186.iso when it was hosted on Digital River before February 2015.
Win7_Ult_SP1_English_x32 (2,504,372 KB)
- MD5: 2572274e6b0acf4ed1b502b175f2c2db
- SHA1: 65fce0f445d9bf7e78e43f17e441e08c63722657
- SHA256: e2c009a66d63a742941f5087acae1aa438dcbe87010bddd53884b1af6b22c940
This .iso was called X17-59463.iso when it was hosted on Digital River before February 2015.
Win7_Ult_SP1_English_x64 (3,243,070 KB)
- MD5: c9f7ecb768acb82daacf5030e14b271e
- SHA1: 36ae90defbad9d9539e649b193ae573b77a71c83
- SHA256: 36f4fa2416d0982697ab106e3a72d2e120dbcdb6cc54fd3906d06120d0653808
This .iso was called X17-59465.iso when it was hosted on Digital River before February 2015.
Note Windows 7 Starter is OEM only and hence not found as a Retail .iso. It is unknown why there is a 64 Bit and 32 Bit Commerical OEM .iso and only a 32 Bit Retail .iso for Windows 7 Home Basic. This Edition is pretty much OEM only however.
Commercial OEM N .isos
Win7_HomePrem_N_SP1_English_COEM_x32 (2,217,196 KB)
- MD5: 9feb6e72e3d91cb581df4709a7fe1406
- SHA1: b56d31708187d46bd70b14f5a0cbc601c7824967
- SHA256: 39a8d7b6ede58c06182fa1692adbac627f5e812362093a261c17842584ff1bb5
Win7_HomePrem_N_SP1_English_COEM_x64 (2,904,836 KB)
- MD5: 61fb17338ca579c9b88fb612f053042a
- SHA1: 8ddd6461df488e1cf09d815dc931de7e9c0a391b
- SHA256: d9845049002343327e2965ec7d48fc8c314b4a42261fe53b2707a1035edac9b9
Win7_Pro_N_SP1_English_COEM_x32 (2,217,196 KB)
- MD5: 8f9dc4097d5530522f9daf848e4bcd29
- SHA1: 05856ff8cb806c2226680015dc84ae32757afbee
- SHA256: 8d390e8890ba812c4d07f6f76110325093f41b9132db3bec3a949513577be5e7
Win7_Pro_N_SP1_English_COEM_x64 (2,904,836 KB)
- MD5: 0adeff47e09dd18b2fed976f5998a4ff
- SHA1: 650d01efbb8bc06d96ad0ca39342dd56da6dc010
- SHA256: 4c63c6acd2e58b965f93ebec419c3c375d46faef82314b12f40ba4df77ab69e6
Win7_Ult_N_SP1_English_COEM_x32 (2,217,196 KB)
- MD5: 1a8802855b49fa691e26dbd95b6e7bcc
- SHA1: cd836ac87671164dc6d574414ee860ac8680ddd8
- SHA256: befb0c02070bf477b25652a11912cb28ba77f0a2822fa3323c9fc83fc8d6ec60
Win7_Ult_N_SP1_English_COEM_x64 (2,904,836 KB)
- MD5: 016239e9d44a3494ad8a00ab8803959c
- SHA1: ac688c494acdb6efe44f5dcad15810a094720ef3
- SHA256: d6d4fca366b04cbeb83326e809265560416f27bd74509cfae5225a28a165bf7a
Retail N .isos
Win7_HomePrem_N_SP1_English_x32 (2,217,196 KB)
- MD5: b5edcee4c7c851c13c064ecd7c7176e6
- SHA1: f17fb1397797c5e83a3f18e76f19dcee2b0736d4
- SHA256: daa5ff6bbaf4bade6c4bcd559ae7151e1d26281b38421ef1864a6e831436b7bc
Win7_HomePrem_N_SP1_English_x64 (2,904,836 KB)
- MD5: 9d8ca8fec19272ce96f3728ccbd1db6b
- SHA1: 6496c1221b4d2090ea599acafbee33aa6855aadc
- SHA256: e9bdc2f18144bd44fab5fd4f8e963ad16b1f0e68708a0f091820c605dcac8a22
Win7_Pro_N_SP1_English_x32 (2,217,196 KB)
- MD5: a553f87c6d4102ea317c8ede93891662
- SHA1: fda90230e29052b7b20ca408e961c5d2743041f1
- SHA256: ed70d0260e4c16da603e5364b4bdab4f681532a8094b15ac4d056610658e9b2e
Win7_Pro_N_SP1_English_x64 (2,904,836 KB)
- MD5: 57de0ef0d8aec8f57648c41ca6dc855d
- SHA1: 59f942bc69ca6d8ab25a3b63a018d86d8acee78b
- SHA256: 7c9573f127e01c877d6d3f22bd3ba4bbfe8dbc421755697b679557c0850bd09b
Win7_Ult_N_SP1_English_x32 (2,217,196 KB)
- MD5: 8d9c55270d91a25663517dbef9968c80
- SHA1: bbf301280faa00b02f5475cdaa06558f569569e8
- SHA256: 12da8abb86ca0651ecc919bf342d7990b1175ef2eb3a22e3bfbcfa38f770c7a5
Win7_Ult_N_SP1_English_x64 (2,904,836 KB)
- MD5: 125a15247bceb880d6ae6a30e481eeb2
- SHA1: e01a55499fe9eba718b59492e55b567f3d6f4e1b
- SHA256: 24e6a5719cf8ed3b0afda7c21f989cbf93ed627c1ef99ba3359010fc1132901f
Creating a Bootable USB
You will require a 16 GB USB Flash Drive for the Windows 7 64 Bit .isos and a 8-16 GB USB for the Windows 7 32 Bit .isos. A DVD is not suitable as it is too small.
Once you have the .iso and Rufus downloaded, launch Rufus:
Select yes at the user account control prompt.
The order in which you use Rufus is very important…
FAILURE TO USE RUFUS IN THE CORRECT ORDER MAY RESULT IN THE WRONG TYPE OF BOOTABLE USB BEING CREATED.
To the top select your USB Device, it must be 8-16 GB.
Next although its at the bottom you must load the .iso:
Select the .iso you wish to make a Bootable USB from and select open:
It is recommended to install Windows 7 64 Bit using a UEFI Boot if your computer has a UEFI BIOS (a SMBIOS of 2.7 or later). For more details including instructions on how to check your SMBIOS see Unified Extensive Firmware Interface (UEFI). If using Windows 7 32 Bit or an older PC with a Legacy BIOS (a SMBIOS of 24, 2.5 and most systems with a SMBIOS of 2.6) you will need to use a Legacy Boot.
Select either the “GPT partition scheme for UEFI” or “the MBR partition scheme for BIOS or UEFI-CSM”.
In most cases if you select the Partition Scheme and Target System Type as “GPT partition scheme for UEFI” the File System should be automatically selected as “FAT32”.
If you select the Partition Scheme and Target System Type as “MBR Partition Scheme for BIOS of UEFI-CSM” the File System should be automatically selected as “NTFS” if not amend it.
Once you have the settings ready select Start:
Select Ok to acknowledge that you are going to format the USB flash drive:
Rufus will now make the installation media.
Once its completed the task, the progress bar will be full and it will say Ready below it. You can now close Rufus. You have your Windows 7 Installation USB prepared:
Additional Notes for a UEFI BIOS
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 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.”
Note: This error message also occurs if the installation .iso downloaded is incomplete or the Bootable USB made is corrupted. Note on checking the .iso checksums are present in my installation guides to reduce the chances of this.
Note if you have a UEFI BIOS you’ll likely need to incorporate USB 3.0 drivers otherwise your Windows 7 installation will fail. To do so see my basic guide on the Intel USB 3.0 Creator Utility or my advanced guide which outlines the Slipsteam of the Convenience Rollup (Pseudo Service Pack 2), Internet Explorer 11, NVM express and USB 3.0 support. The advanced guide works better (but is a bit more complicated). You may also need to prepare SATA Preinstallation Drivers. To do so see my guide Downloading, Preparing and Loading SATA Preinstallation drivers.
Notes on OEM System Locked Preinstallation
Windows 7 can be activated with using OEM System Locked Preinstallation (OEM SLP) if the system has a valid System License Internal Code (SLIC). For more details on the SLIC see my UEFI/BIOS guide. OEM SLP should be applied post installation – to apply OEM SLP see Applying OEM System Locked Preinstallation.
Delete the EI.cfg file
The ei.cfg can be deleted when the Bootable USB is made which will allow installation of all Editions of Windows 7 or alternatively Windows 7 N for a Corresponding Architecture.
Open up the USB in Windows Explorer go to the sources folder and look for ei.cfg and delete it.
When you install Windows 7 you will be prompted to select your version and you can now choose starter or Home Basic if you have used the 32 Bit .iso.
Deletion of this file will allow for Windows 7 Starter and Home Basic if you used the 32 Bit .iso.
Its advised to install Windows 7 without a Product Key to initiate a 30 Day Trial Install and then to reapply Dell OEM System Locked Preinstallation using the Activation Backup and Recovery Program.
Install Windows 7
To install Windows 7 see Windows 7 Installation in a UEFI BIOS or Legacy BIOS.