Windows 7

Windows 7 was released in 2009 and Windows 7 Service Pack 1 was released in 2011. Due to the unpopularity of Windows 8.x, systems were sold with Windows 7 until 2016 using downgrade rights however Microsoft never updated the Windows 7 installation media meaning most Windows 7 installation issues were due to lack of updates and lack of driver support within the Windows 7 installation media.

This guide will instruct in creating media refresh January 2020 Windows 7 Installation Media and performing a clean installation.

This guide is Dell Original Equipment Manufactured (OEM) focused however instructions are included to convert the Multi-Lingual Dell OEM ISO into another mainstream OEM ISO for example Lenovo and HP maintaining the automatic offline product activation known as OEM System Locked Preinstallation (OEM SLP).

Windows 7 End of Life and Free Upgrade to Windows 10

Windows 7 Reached End of Life in January 2020.

If you came here looking to reinstall Windows 7 because you think you need to pay for Windows 10 then note that all Windows 7 to Windows 10 activation mechanisms still work and you do not need to pay for Windows 10.

The Windows 10 free upgrade offer ended on July 29, 2016. To get Windows 10 you will need to either purchase a new device or, if you have a compatible PC, purchase a full version of the software to upgrade your existing device. We recommend that you don’t install Windows 10 on an older device, as some Windows 7 devices are not compatible with Windows 10 or could experience reduced feature availability.

This statement appears to clash with Microsoft's website where they explicitly recommend you to buy a new computer or purchase a full retail license. Pushing customers to purchase a full retail license is a means of them covering their technical support costs or in other words is an explicit statement saying they won't provide technical support unless you pay for the service.

However in reality all the activation mechanisms for Windows 7 to Windows 10 still function and a very small proportion of users need Microsoft technical support to install Windows 10. The activation mechanisms will likely function indefinitely as it would lead to a surge in technical support and product activation issues for Microsoft from those that have already upgraded and are reinstalling. Also off the record Microsoft want to consolidate their entire Windows user base onto a single version, so they only have the costs of supporting one version of Windows so it is also in their interests to silently leave the doors open regarding Windows 7 to Windows 10 Product Activation.

If in doubt you can see that I tested this in April 2020, with Version 2004 installation media a good 4 years after the "free upgrade ended".

In addition despite Microsoft stating that Windows 10 might not work on older computers, behind the scenes they have carried out a lot of work to up the performance of Windows 10 on older hardware. Windows 10 Version 2004 has substantial performance boosts over older versions of Windows 10 which should make it run a lot smoother on older hardware. I demonstrate this on a Dell OptiPlex 790. Any computer that came with Windows 7 OEM is likely to run Windows 10 fine as most of these computers are under 10 years old. Computers that came with Windows XP OEM on the other hand and were updated to Windows 7 Retail can be approaching 20 years in age and are unlikely to run Windows 10 that well, if at all.

To Download and Clean Install Windows 10 Version 2004 see:

Product Key and OEM Downgrade Rights

All Dell Systems that came with a Windows 7 License had a Code of Authenticity (COA). However the Product Key on the COA was not used instead a generic Dell OEM System Locked Preinstallation (OEM SLP) key was input from Dell Media and the Dell system BIOS contained a System License Internal Code 2.1.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 3-2.png
The CoA was often placed under the battery compartment of laptops or inside the computer case of Desktops to prevent fading.

Newer systems came with a Windows 8.1 Pro License or Windows 10 Pro License and didn't have a COA. However these systems are eligible for OEM Downgrade Rights and you can install Windows 7 Pro on them if Dell provide Windows 7 Drivers. Note non-Pro OEM Licenses are not eligible for OEM Downgrade Rights.

UEFI BIOS/Legacy BIOS Settings

The UEFI BIOS and GPT partition scheme should be used where possible with Windows 7 64 Bit. You may or may not have these technologies depending on the age of your system. For reference:

  • OptiPlex 390/790 – 2011 (2nd generation Sandy Bridge) UEFI BIOS – No Secure Boot, there is no option for Legacy ROMs as these are always Enabled
  • OptiPlex 3010/7010 – 2012 (3rd generation Ivy Bridge) UEFI BIOS with Secure Boot (only with the latest UEFI BIOS Update)
  • OptiPlex 7020 – 2014 (4th generation Intel Haswell) UEFI BIOS with Secure Boot
  • OptiPlex 7040 – 2015 (6th generation Intel Skylake) UEFI BIOS with Secure Boot

This guide focuses on a UEFI BIOS, if you have an even older Dell System than 2011, ignore any mention of the words UEFI, Legacy ROMs and Secure Boot as the technologies are not available in your system. Such systems have a Legacy BIOS (non-UEFI) BIOS. Installation instructions are otherwise identical however the installation media for them needs to be made using the MBR partition scheme and NTFS file format opposed to the GPT partition scheme and FAT32 format.

On a Dell system press [F2] to enter the UEFI BIOS setup, I'll demonstrate using the newest hardware supported to run Windows 7 64 Bit – the OptiPlex 7040:

Windows 7 64 Bit does not support Secure Boot, it must be Disabled in the UEFI BIOS setup for Windows 7 64 Bit Installation. Look for a tab called Secure Boot, expand it, select Secure Boot Enable and change the setting to Disabled. Select OK at any warning dialog box:

Legacy Option ROMs must be enabled for Windows 7 64 Bit. Go to the general tab and select Advanced Boot Options, ensure Enable Legacy Option ROMs are Enabled. You should leave Enable Attempt Legacy Boot unchecked:

Next go to Boot Sequence and ensure the Boot List Option is set to UEFI:

Select Apply:

Press OK:

It is also worth looking at your Drives here – in my case I have one 128 GB SSD drive that is M.2, others may have a HDD and a low capacity 32-64 GB SSD Cache Drive:

For a single Drive use AHCI. If you have a small capacity SSD and a large HDD you would need to select RAID On (sometimes called Intel Smart Response Technology):

Now exit the UEFI BIOS setup to save the changes:

Downloading Installation Media

The Dell Windows 7 Multi-Lingual Reinstallation DVD

Many Dell systems came with a Dell Windows 7 Reinstallation DVD like below which can used to clean install Windows 7 and will automatically apply Dell Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) System Locked Preinstallation (SLP) offline on an eligible Dell system.

These DVDs are out of date however and may not have the necessary drivers to install Windows 7 on your system (missing USB 3.0 and Storage Controller Drivers in particular).

Dell Windows 7 Reinstallation DVD stating the Edition, Service Pack and Architecture.

For best performance slipstream updates and drivers to the install.wim. If you have the DVD you can copy its contents to a folder and perform the slipstream from it and do not need to Download the Dell Windows 7 Pro Skylake ISO.

The Dell Windows 7 Pro Skylake Reinstallation Multi-Lingual ISO

An updated ISO was made available to download by Dell in January 2016 which incorporates driver support for up to 6th Generation Intel Hardware for the Professional Edition and Automatically Applies OEM System Locked Preinstallation. Dell only offer an updated Professional Edition (as they could only sell systems with OEM Downgrade Rights to Professional at the time they released the ISO). However this downloadable ISO can be converted into other Editions by modification of two files in a text editor such as Notepad++ (these other Editions are not updated however). Dell OEM SLP can be removed converting the installation media into Retail installation media. The Dell ISO is also multi-lingual:

It can be downloaded officially using the Dell OS Recovery Tool or unofficially via the Windows ISO Download Tool (which addresses a lot of limitations of the Dell OS Recovery Tool). This guide will instruct in converting the Dell Windows 7 Pro ISO to any other Edition and for use with any other OEM.

The Dell OS Recovery Tool

Downloading and Installing the OS Recovery Tool

The Dell OS Recovery Tool requires Microsoft.net Framework 4.7.2 to be installed and requires a Dell Service Tag for selection of the image (if you do not have a valid Dell Service Tag use the Windows ISO Download Tool which overrides the query for a Service Tag giving you a Download Link direct from the Dell Server instead). This is inbuilt into Windows 10. For Windows 7 it is likely already installed however if you require it, it is available here:

Double click the Program:

Accept the User Account Control:

Select Install:

Select Close. You will have a Dell OS Recovery Tool icon on your Desktop and Start Menu:

Launch the Dell OS Recovery Tool:

Accept the User Account Control:

You will see the Dell logo:

Select Get Started:

Select Next:

Here if you are running on a Dell Computer, you can select "This Computer" and it will scan your system for its Service Tag:

It detects this is an OptiPlex 7040. Select Next:

In my case my OptiPlex 7040 shows a Windows 10 Pro License. This system is also eligible for OEM Downgrade Rights and has a 6th Generation Intel Processor so a Dell Windows 7 Professional OEM Reinstallation ISO will also work on it. I will select Change Device:

I will then select a Service Tag which has a Windows 7 Pro OEM Reinstallation ISO available for Download. Inputting by Service Tag allows you to run this tool on a non-Dell Computer:

Inputting the 7 digit Service Tag:

Selecting Next:

If your Service Tag doesn't work use the Windows ISO Download Tool instead.

I can see the Windows 7 SP1 Professional 64 Bit ISO available to Download.

Select Download:

Saving the Installation ISO

By default the Dell OS Recovery Tool deletes the downloaded ISO after ti creates a Bootable USB.

IF YOU WANT THE ISO DO NOT SELECT NEXT

Open up Windows Explorer. Select C:\

The folder the ISO is save in is a subfolder of ProgramData, a hidden folder.

Change the Address to

C:\ProgramData

Select Dell

Select OS Recovery Tool

Select Downloads:

When you select this, you will told you need to elevate permissions to access the folder. Select Continue:

You should now see the ISO. Select Copy:

Paste it somewhere like the Desktop:

You now have the Dell Windows 7 Professional Skylake Reinstallation ISO:

You can close the Dell OS Recovery Tool.

The Windows ISO Download Tool

The Dell OS Recovery Tool asks for a Service Tag in order to initiate the download. Sometimes the Dell OS Recovery Tool doesn't show the correct Architecture of Windows 7 (e.g. 32 Bit instead of 64 Bit) or only shows Windows 10 instead of Windows 7. There is another tool called the Windows ISO Download Tool which can be used to get direct links from the Dell Server. It can also get Windows 7 (August 2018 English Only) ISOs from Microsoft and Windows 7 (November 2010 All Languages) from Microsoft however there are some issues with the November 2010 Download Links from time to time so I recommend using the multi-lingual Dell ISO for all systems and converting it if needed to Retail or for use with another OEM.

Select Dell to the right hand side (not Windows 7). Then select Windows 7 Professional 64 Bit or 32 Bit to the left hand side. You will then need to select a model (it doesn't matter what model you select as there is no model to model customisation of the ISO, the ISO is always the same). Then select Download.

Creating January 2020 Media Refresh Installation Media using NTLite

The Windows 7 Installation Media is from January 2016 and by default locked to Windows 7 Pro. However the other editions can be unlocked but are last updated in November 2010. The other Editions lack the USB 3.0 Drivers and Storage Controllers however we will incorporate these.

Win7 Folder

Create a new folder on your Desktop and copy the contents of your DVD or ISO to it. ISOs can be mounted directly in Windows 10 by right clicking them and selecting Mount. To do this in Windows 7 you will need to install Virtual Clone Drive:

Boot Drivers Folder

Next download the following and launch the setup to extract them. Copy all the files from the 64 Bit or 32 Bit folders (depending on the architecture of your original Reinstallation DVD) into a folder bootdrivers:

Updates Folder

Extract the Gigabyte Windows USB Tool and get the KB2990941 and KB3087873 hotfixes that match your architecture.

Windows 7 64 Bit Standalone Updates

Red Updates should only be used if the DVD doesn't have Service Pack 1 (not tested).

Windows 7 32 Bit Standalone Updates

Red Updates should only be used if the DVD doesn't have Service Pack 1 (not tested).

Dell or Lenovo CAB Driver Pack

Download the Dell Cab file for your model from Dell:

Note: Home Models such as the Inspiron Range may not have a Driver Package.

Then extract it with 7zip. Open the extracted folder and then select the 64 Bit or 32 Bit Drivers depending on your architecture.

Download

You should have the following folders:

Install NTLite.

Launch NTLite. To the top select Add → Image Directory:

Select your Win7 folder:

Next select Index 2 of the boot.wim:

When it is ready it will show up as green.

Select Drivers to the left hand side:

Select Add → Directory Containing Drivers:

Select the bootdrivers folder:

If starting from the Dell Skylake Reinstallation ISO one of the driver will already be present. Select OK:

Now go to Apply:

Select Process:

Then select Yes:

Now select the index you want to update. In this case I will select Windows 7 Professional:

Select Updates to the left hand side:

Select Add → Directory containing packages:

Select the Updates folder:

If using the Dell Windows 7 Professional Skylake ISO and you have Windows 7 Pro selected some will already be present, select OK:

To the left hand side, select Drivers:

Select Add → Directory Containing Drivers:

Select your drivers folder (note if you do not have a Dell or Lenovo Cab File, use the bootdrivers again to enable basic generic driver support):

Select OK at the warning:

Select Post-Setup:

Drag and drop the Microsoft .Net Framework 4.7.2 and type

/q

Note in the video and the screenshot below I had the wrong value do not use /u otherwise you will have to go through the setup of the Microsoft .Net Framework. The \q will perform a quiet install, it'll install in the background automatically at the screen which says Windows is finalizing your settings.

In the parameters box:

Select Apply:

Check the Create ISO button:

Name the ISO and select Save:

Label the ISO and select OK

If you aren't wanting to change Edition from the original media, select process otherwise minimise NTLite and carry out the following changes:

Converting a Dell Windows 7 Professional Reinstallation USB to another Edition

Switching to another Dell OEM Edition

To change Edition of the Windows 7 Pro Bootable USB we only need to change two files.

I advise installing Notepad++ to modify the two files

The first file needing to be changed is the EI.cfg file it is found in:

Win7\sources
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 2-9.png

Right click this and Edit it with Notepad++

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 3-7.png

You are only wanting to change one line, this word professional to the desired edition starter, homebasic, homepremium, professional and ultimate. What you type should all be lower case with no spacing:

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is eiprofessional.png

I will demonstrate with Home Premium using homepremium but you can slide across for the other editions.

The second file we need to modify is the SLP.cmd file found in:

Win7\sources\$$\$OEM\setup\scripts 

Once again right click it and select Edit with Notepad++

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 4-6.png

This file contains two lines, the first installs the OEM certificate (which is the same for all Editions) and the second installs the Generic OEM SLP key.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is slpprofessional.png

We only need to change this generic OEM SLP key to match the generic OEM SLP key of the Edition of Windows 7 we wish to install. Once again I will demonstrate using Home Premium but you can slide across for other editions:

Starter:
36T88-RT7C6-R38TQ-RV8M9-WWTCY
Home Basic:
36Q3Y-BBT84-MGJ3H-FT7VD-FG72J
Home Premium:
6RBBT-F8VPQ-QCPVQ-KHRB8-RMV82
Professional:
32KD2-K9CTF-M3DJT-4J3WC-733WD
Ultimate:
342DG-6YJR8-X92GV-V7DCV-P4K27

That's all the Windows 7 Installation Media will now install Windows 7 Home Premium or the Edition you select Opposed to Windows 7 Professional.

You will not be asked what Edition to select during installation and instead be taken straight to the Home Premium License screen:

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is vlcsnap-2019-03-22-12h10m03s656.png

You will not be asked for a Product Key during installation:

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Dell OEM SLP will occur on eligible Dell systems.

Switching to a Non-Dell OEM Edition

We can modify 3 files on the Dell Windows 7 Pro Skylake ISO to apply OEM SLP Activation for any other major OEM for example HP and Lenovo.

The first file needing to be changed is the EI.cfg file it is found in:

Win7\sources
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 2-9.png

Right click this and Edit it with Notepad++

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 3-7.png

You are only wanting to change one line, this word professional to the desired edition starter, homebasic, homepremium, professional and ultimate. What you type should all be lower case with no spacing:

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is eiprofessional.png

I will demonstrate with Home Premium using homepremium but you can slide across for the other editions.

The second file we need to modify is the SLP.cmd file found in:

Win7\sources\$$\$OEM\setup\scripts 

Once again right click it and select Edit with Notepad++

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 4-6.png

This file contains two lines, the first installs the OEM certificate (which is the same for all Editions) and the second installs the Generic OEM SLP key.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is slpprofessional.png

We only need to change this generic OEM SLP key to match the generic OEM SLP key of the Edition of Windows 7 for the OEM we wish to install Windows 7 on.

I will demonstrate using the Dell Product Keys but list the rest below. The Product IDs will show up in system properties post-instalaltion and Windows 7 should be activated.

Dell/Alienware

EditionProduct IDOEM SLP Key
Windows 7 Starterxxxxx-OEM -8992707-0008236Q3Y-BBT84-MGJ3H-FT7VD-FG72J
Windows 7 Home Basicxxxxx-OEM-8992752-5025836T88-RT7C6-R38TQ-RV8M9-WWTCY
Windows 7 Home Premiumxxxxx-OEM-8992687-000956RBBT-F8VPQ-QCPVQ-KHRB8-RMV82
Windows 7 Professionalxxxxx-OEM-8992671-0052432KD2-K9CTF-M3DJT-4J3WC-733WD
Windows 7 Ultimatexxxxx -OEM-8992662-00400342DG-6YJR8-X92GV-V7DCV-P4K27
EditionProduct IDOEM SLP Key
Windows 7 Home Premiumxxxxx-OEM-8992687-00008V3Y2W-CMF9W-PGT9C-777KD-32W74
Windows 7 Professionalxxxxx-OEM-8992671-001884CFBX-7HQ6R-3JYWF-72GXP-4MV6W
Windows 7 Ultimatexxxxx-OEM-8992662-00008
xxxxx-OEM-8992662-00120
4HMYB-6YHYT-TW2J6-FQBC3-6GBFW

Lenovo/IBM

EditionProduct IDOEM SLP Key
Windows 7 Starterxxxxx-OEM-8992752-30169

xxxxx-OEM-8992702-00153
273P4-GQ8V6-97YYM-9YTHF-DC2VP

22P26-HD8YH-RD96C-28R8J-DCT28
Windows 7 Home Basicxxxxx-OEM-8992752-5021322MFQ-HDH7V-RBV79-QMVK9-PTMXQ
Windows 7 Home Premiumxxxxx-OEM-8992687-0024927GBM-Y4QQC-JKHXW-D9W83-FJQKD
Windows 7 Professionalxxxxx-OEM-8992671-00437

xxxxx-OEM-8992662-00537
237XB-GDJ7B-MV8MH-98QJM-24367

6K2KY-BFH24-PJW6W-9GK29-TMPWP
Windows 7 Ultimatexxxxx-OEM-8992662-005376K2KY-BFH24-PJW6W-9GK29-TMPWP

HP/Compaq

EditionProduct IDOEM SLP Key
Windows 7 Starterxxxxx-OEM-8992752-30008RH98C-M9PW4-6DHR7-X99PJ-3FGDB
Windows 7 Home Basicxxxxx-OEM-8992752-50008DX8R9-BVCGB-PPKRR-8J7T4-TJHTH
Windows 7 Home Premiumxxxxx-OEM-8992687-000104FG99-BC3HD-73CQT-WMF7J-3Q6C9
Windows 7 Professionalxxxxx-OEM-8992671-0000874T2M-DKDBC-788W3-H689G-6P6GT
Windows 7 Ultimatexxxxx-OEM-8992662-00010MHFPT-8C8M2-V9488-FGM44-2C9T3

ASUS

EditionProduct IDOEM SLP Key
Windows 7 Starterxxxxx-OEM-8992752-300056K6WB-X73TD-KG794-FJYHG-YCJVG
Windows 7 Home Basicxxxxx-OEM-8992752-5000589G97-VYHYT-Y6G8H-PJXV6-77GQM
Windows 7 Home Premiumxxxxx-OEM-8992687-00007

xxxxx-OEM-8992687-00118
2QDBX-9T8HR-2QWT6-HCQXJ-9YQTR

7JQWQ-K6KWQ-BJD6C-K3YVH-DVQJG
Windows 7 Professionalxxxxx-OEM-8992671-004072WCJK-R8B4Y-CWRF2-TRJKB-PV9HW
Windows 7 Ultimatexxxxx-OEM-8992662-001732Y4WT-DHTBF-Q6MMK-KYK6X-VKM6G

Acer/Gateway/Packard

EditionProduct IDOEM SLP Key
Windows 7 Starterxxxxx-OEM-8992752-30004RDJXR-3M32B-FJT32-QMPGB-GCFF6
Windows 7 Home Basicxxxxx-OEM-8992752-50004 MB4HF-2Q8V3-W88WR-K7287-2H4CP
Windows 7 Home Premiumxxxxx-OEM-8992687-00006 VQB3X-Q3KP8-WJ2H8-R6B6D-7QJB7
Windows 7 Professionalxxxxx-OEM-8992671-00004 YKHFT-KW986-GK4PY-FDWYH-7TP9F
Windows 7 Ultimatexxxxx-OEM-8992662-00006 FJGCP-4DFJD-GJY49-VJBQ7-HYRR2

Samsung

EditionProduct IDOEM SLP Key
Windows 7 Starterxxxxx-OEM-8992752-30013PV9BD-YBRX6-CTMG6-CCMJY-X8XG7
Windows 7 Home Basicxxxxx-OEM-8992752-500132P6PB-G7YVY-W46VJ-BXJ36-PGGTG
Windows 7 Home Premiumxxxxx-OEM-8992687-00015CQBVJ-9J697-PWB9R-4K7W4-2BT4J
Windows 7 Professionalxxxxx-OEM-8992671-00013GMJQF-JC7VC-76HMH-M4RKY-V4HX6
Windows 7 Ultimatexxxxx-OEM-8992662-0001549PB6-6BJ6Y-KHGCQ-7DDY6-TF7CD

Sony

EditionProduct IDOEM SLP Key
Windows 7 Starterxxxxx-OEM-8992707-0001632J2V-TGQCY-9QJXP-Q3FVT-X8BQ
Windows 7 Home Basicxxxxx-OEM-8992752-50014YV7QQ-RCXQ9-KTBHC-YX3FG-FKRW8
Windows 7 Home Premiumxxxxx-OEM-8992687-00016H4JWX-WHKWT-VGV87-C7XPK-CGKHQ
Windows 7 Professionalxxxxx-OEM-8992671-00014H9M26-6BXJP-XXFCY-7BR4V-24X8
Windows 7 Ultimatexxxxx-OEM-8992662-00016YJJYR-666KV-8T4YH-KM9TB-4PY2W

Toshiba

EditionProduct IDOEM SLP Key
Windows 7 Starterxxxxx-OEM-8992752-30015TGBKB-9KBGJ-3Y3J6-K8M2F-J2HJQ
Windows 7 Home Basicxxxxx-OEM-8992752-500159H4FH-VD69Y-TGBD2-4PM4K-DRMMH
Windows 7 Home Premiumxxxxx-OEM-8992687-00057

xxxxx-OEM-8992687-00017
6B88K-KCCWY-4F8HK-M4P73-W8DQG

6GF36-P4HWR-BFF84-6GFC2-BWX77
Windows 7 Professionalxxxxx-OEM-8992671-00137

xxxxx-OEM-8992671-00015
2V8P2-QKJWM-4THM3-74PDB-4P2KH

W2PMW-T7DBH-YHKRM-DXXF6-KP4KT
Windows 7 Ultimatexxxxx-OEM-8992662-004592XQ63-J3P67-9G3JC-FHQ68-8Q2F3

MSI

EditionProduct IDOEM SLP Key
Windows 7 Starterxxxxx-OEM-8992707-00121

xxxxx-OEM-8992752-30271
2W4DJ-JFFJV-DMCPP-2C3X8-883DP

2YKPV-BFXFW-X8GJQ-9KQFF-KCXGD
Windows 7 Home Basicxxxxx-OEM-8992752-501792TY7W-H4DD4-MB62F-BD9C3-88TM6
Windows 7 Home Premiumxxxxx-OEM-8992687-002464G3GR-J6JDJ-D96PV-T9B9D-M8X2Q
Windows 7 Professionalxxxxx-OEM-8992671-005032W3CX-YD4YJ-DF9B2-V27M6-77GMF

Fujitsu

EditionProduct IDOEM SLP Key
Windows 7 Starterxxxxx-OEM-8992752-30007 PMXH9-M23P9-QJJMB-2FWRC-7CDKP
Windows 7 Home Basicxxxxx-OEM-8992752-500078W3JQ-BP2HY-F47QX-6CQ94-2BKQB
Windows 7 Home Premiumxxxxx-OEM-8992687-00009C6MHH-TRRPT-74TDC-FHRMV-XB88W
Windows 7 Professionalxxxxx-OEM-8992671-00007PT9YK-BC2J9-WWYF9-R9DCR-QB9CK
Windows 7 Ultimatexxxxx-OEM-8992662-000099CW99-79BBF-D4M3X-9BK9M-4RPH9

Finally to remove Dell customisation (Dell logos in system properties, Dell IE Home page and Dell Wallpapers) open the OOBE.CMD file within Notepad++ found within the same folder as the SLP.cmd. Then remove the CUSTOMIZATIONS section.

Switch to a Retail Edition

To remove Dell customisation from the Dell Windows 7 Professional Skylake Reinstallation ISO delete the $OEM$ folder and EI.cfg file from the sources folder. The installation media will then act as Retail Installation Media.

Creating the Media Refresh January 2020 ISO

When ready select Process:

Select Yes:

When done you can close NTLite.

You should have your updated ISO now.

If having problems with NTLite I have also manually created scripts but this is a bit more complicated. These are December 2019 Scripts.

Creating a Bootable USB using Rufus

Rufus can be used to create a Bootable USB from the Media Refresh January 2016 ISO.

Double click Rufus:

Accept the User Account Control Prompt:

Insert a 16 GB USB Flash Drive:

Select, select:

Select your new Windows 7 January 2020 Media Refresh ISO:

It'll display at the bottom and also populate the volume label:

Since the install.wim exceeds 4 GB it will alway have a NTFS file system. If you are installing 64 Bit Windows 7 on a system with a UEFI BIOS select GPT as the Partition scheme otherwise select MBR for an older system with a Legacy Only BIOS or for 32 Bit Windows 7:

Select Start:

Accept the warning to format the USB Flash Drive:

When done Rufus will warn you that this Windows 7 Installation Media won't pass Secure Boot.

You may now Close Rufus:

A Clean Install of Windows 7

Booting from a Bootable USB

Power Down your Dell an Insert your Windows 7 Installation USB and make sure no other USB Devices are connected except for the Keyboard and Mouse. If using a Dell OptiPlex model (or other Desktop) I recommend using the back USB Ports as these are directly on the System Board and Avoiding the Front Ones for Windows 7 Installation.

Hold [F12] while powering up your computer:

You will now enter the UEFI BIOS Boot Menu:

Notice that it says to the top that the Boot Mode is set to UEFI and Secure Boot is OFF. Press [↓] until you get to your USB Flash Drive (in my case it is a Sandisc Cruzer Glide 16 GB), ignore any listings sunder Legacy Boot.

Some systems may tell you to press any key to continue Booting from USB, if they do press the space bar.

Early Installation

You will get a black screen that says "Windows is Loading Files."

Then one that says Starting Windows.

You will then be prompted for your language, time and currency format and keyboard settings, amend these as desired. If you use an English .iso it'll be set by default to English (US), I'm going to change to English (UK):

Select Install Now.

You will get a Setup is Starting Screen:

You may get a file asking you what Edition of Windows you wish to install. This depends if the installation media has an EI.cfg file – the EIF.cfg file is a text file which automatically selects the option at this screen. In my case I am going to install Windows 7 Professional using Downgrade Rights from Windows 10 Pro OEM on a Dell OptiPlex 7040:

Read the license, check to select and then select Next.

Next select Custom (Advanced).

Loading SATA Drivers and Deleting Partitions

Warning: This step will result in data loss of internal drives.

If the Windows 7 installation media can see your SSD/HDD/HSSD on the next screen then you do not need to load a SATA preinstallation driver as it's incorporated. This should be the case for the Dell Skylake Reinstallation .isos which have support for up to 6th generation Intel Skylake systems.

Loading SATA Drivers

The Dell Windows 7 Pro ISO used in this guide should have all the SATA Drivers included for up to 6th Generation Intel Hardware and be able to recognise your internal drives during the Windows Setup.

If using older Windows 7 Installation Media it may not have the SATA drivers required for your Storage Controller and hence be unable to read your drive.

If no drives are listed on the "Where do you want to install Windows?" screen then you must select Load Driver and select the SATA drivers from a USB stick. The SATA drivers essentially allow Windows to recognise the hard drive controller on the motherboard and thus allow Windows to view the drive letting you proceed with the install.

Note the error message above is:

No Drives were Found. Click Load Driver to Provide a Mass Storage Driver for Installation.

Quite often other related error messages show such as:

A media driver your computer needs is missing

A required CD/DVD drive device driver is missing

These normally mean your installation media is corrupt and are not because you need to load a driver. "A required CD/DVD drive device driver is missing" quite often shows on Desktops when the Front USB Ports are used, move your Bootable USB to the back USB Ports instead and restart the computer.

Although it is recommended to slipstream all standalone updates and the complete Driver Cab File into the installation media as demonstrated with the slipstream scripts. It is also possible to manually load the SATA drivers:

Get the SATA Drivers from:

Press [Ctrl] and [ f ] to do a search. I'm going to type in 7040 as I am going to clean install Windows 7 64 Bit on this model.

You can scroll down until you get to Serial ATA:

Alternatively press [Ctrl] and [ f ] and do a search for F6 (these were called F6 drivers as they used to be loaded in Windows XP by pressing F6 and using a Floppy Drive!)

You must extract the driver as the Windows Setup cannot read .exes. Normally this can be done by launching the setup:

Accept the User Account Control:

Select Extract:

Specify the location:

Copy the extracted folder to your Windows 7 Bootable USB.

Look through the contents of the extracted folder, there is normally a drivers subfolder and a Windows7-x64 subfolder:

It's contents should look like:

This is the format the Windows setup can read. Select Load Drivers:

Then Browse:

Then navigate to the subfolder containing the drivers:

Ensure that "Hide drivers that are not compatible with hardware on this computer is ticked" (it should be set like this by default). Select Next:

The Storage controller is now recognised so the internal HDDs/HSSDs etc all show up. If it is all unallocated space as shown select Next.

If instead you have a previous version of Windows on your drives screen may instead look like this.

Warning 2: This step will result in data loss of internal drives.

You can perform a Low Level Format using the Windows Installation Media by Deleting all the partitions on the drive. You should do this if:

  • You are clean installing the latest version of Windows 10 on your PC.
  • You are sure your old version of Windows wasn't infected with malicious software.
  • You are keeping your computer…

You should instead quit Windows Installation and perform a Secure Wipe using:

  • You are clean installing Windows 7 due to a malicious software.
  • You have bought your computer second hand (and are not sure what the last user has had on the PC).
  • You are planning selling your computer on (and don't want personal data passed on).

To perform the Low Level Format using the Windows Installation Media select every partition on Drive 0 (or the desired Drive you wish to install Windows if you have a system with a multiple drive configuration) and systematically delete any partition.

Delete all Partitions including Recovery Partitions, these are for old obsolete versions of Windows and no longer required.

If multiple drives show you may have a SSD and a HDD.

If your SSD is >128 GB install Windows 7 on your SSD as it'll result in optimal performance.

If it is 32-64 GB it should be a cache drive. Remove all partitions on it and on the HDD. Then install on the HDD. The SATA Operation needs to be in RAID. Notes on setting up Intel Rapid Storage Technology to use the SSD as a cache drive will be given later.

Middle of Installation

You will then a screen telling you the progress of the install and Windows will restart once:

If you have securely wiped your system and are using Dell Windows 7 Installation Media with slipstreamed updates and system drivers using NTLite on a Dell System then this screen is more or less at the same state as an updated Dell Factory Image. You can power off your system if you plan to sell it on to a new end user.

Type in your "username", by default the PC name will be "username-PC" but you can change this as desired.

Next type in your password, retype it and leave yourself a hint.

Alternatively just select next (to have no password – not recommended but optional). Personally for convenience I tend to leave the password blank and add one after the installation of Windows 7, drivers and updates as you will be prompted to restart your computer several times.

The Product Key

You should only input a Product Key at this stage if your License is Retail Full, otherwise select Skip for OEM Licenses and Retail Upgrade Licenses. Note this screen will not show at all if using Dell Windows 7 Reinstallation Media. Installation without a Product Key will give a 30 Day Trial (we only need about 30 mins of this trial before we go ahead and activate Windows).

End of Installation

You will then be asked about Windows Update settings its generally best to go with recommended.

Then select your time and date settings.

The next screen should be about connecting to the internet and/or connecting to a wireless network. In most cases Windows 7 won't have the driver inbuilt for a UEFI system and this screen will not show. The setup will Finalise and restart taking you to the Windows Desktop.

Install the Latest Security Updates

If you've followed my guide to make Slipstreamed Windows 7 Installation Media and drivers, you will only need to install Microsoft .Net Framework. You may need to install the latest Security Rollup (depending on the time you followed the guide).

If you've used the Dell Windows 7 Pro  2016 Skylake Reinstallation ISO (and are installing the Pro Edition) without Slipstreaming additional updates. You will need KB3020369, KB3125574 (restart), the latest Security Rollup, Microsoft .Net Framework and Microsoft Security Essentials.

Convenience Rollup

A restart is required after installing these updates.

Service Stack Updates

A restart is required after installing these updates.

Security Rollup December 2019

A restart is required after installing these updates. Windows 7 Reaches End of Life in January 2020 so this is likely to be the final Security Rollup.

Microsoft .Net Framework

A restart is required after installing these updates.

If you've used the Dell Windows 7 Pro 2016 Skylake Reinstallation ISO (and are installing a Non-Pro Edition) or using the Microsoft 2011 ISO or original Dell Windows 7 with Service Pack 1 Reinstallation DVD. You will need KB3020369, KB3125574 (restart), KB2639308, KB2670838, KB2729094, KB2834140 (restart) then IE11-Windows6.1and the latest security rollup. After these are installed, install the Microsoft .Net Framework.

Convenience Rollup

A restart is required after installing these updates.

IE11 Prerequisite Updates

A restart is required after installing these updates.

IE11

A restart is required after installing these updates.

Service Stack Updates

A restart is required after installing these updates.

Security Rollup December 2019

A restart is required after installing these updates. Windows 7 Reaches End of Life in January 2020 so this is likely to be the final Security Rollup.

Microsoft .Net Framework

A restart is required after installing these updates.

Microsoft Product Activation

If you have used OEM Reinstallation Media on an OEM System e.g. the Dell Windows 7 Professional Reinstallation ISO or DVD on an eligible Dell System (or modified it for your Edition and OEM), Windows 7 should be activated offline automatically using OEM System Locked Preinstallation.

If you have used Retail Installation Media with a Full Retail Product Key you should automatically activate Windows 7 when online.

If you have used Retail Installation Media on an OEM System e.g. the Microsoft Windows 7 Retail ISO or DVD on an eligible Dell, HP or Lenovo System, you will need to manually apply OEM System Locked Preinstallation.

For this you need to apply the OEM SLP Collection:

Extract this folder, select your OEM, in my case Dell, select your Edition in my case Pro as I am using Windows 10 Pro Downgrade Rights and copy the OEM folder to the C:\Drive

Open the OEM folder on the C:\ Drive. Right click the slp.bat file

Select Run as Administrator:

Select Yes to Allow the Command Prompt to open:

The OEM Certificate will be installed. Select OK:

The generic OEM SLP key will be installed (Dell use this key for every Dell shipped with Windows 7 Pro from factory). Press OK:

Press any key to continue. The Command Prompt will be closed:

Right click the start button and select Properties:

Windows will now be activated using OEM SLP, the product ID will contain OEM-899

If you have used Retail Installation Media with a Retail Upgrade Only Product Key then you may have activation issues after performing a clean installation. You should activate by the Command Prompt instead.

You may get this is you attempt to activate normally, to get around this, we can use the Command Prompt:

key-issue

Press the Start Button and in the search box type in CMD.

Right click CMD.exe and select run as an administrator. This will open up the elevated command prompt accept any user account control prompt.

1

To input your product key type:

slmgr /ipk xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx

Where xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx is your product key and then press [↵].

2

Select ok and then to activate type

slmgr /ato

This will activate your product.

3

System Drivers

If you haven't slipstreamed your system drivers to the installation media you should install the following:

  • Dell System (Notebook/Desktop) Software – Under System Utilities
  • Chipset Drivers – Intel Chipset First – Under Chipset
  • Chipset Drivers – Any other Intel – Under Chipset
  • Card Reader – Realtek, Ricoh, O2 Micro – Under Chipset or Removable Storage
  • Intel Matrix Storage Manager/Rapid Storage Technology – Under SATA Drives or CPU
  • Video* – Intel, AMD or NVIDIA – Under Video
  • Modem* – Conexant or Intel – Under Modem
  • Network* – Ethernet – Under Network
  • Touchpad – Touchpad – Under Input
  • Audio – Sigmatel, Intel or Realtek – Under Audio
  • TVTuners – Under Video
  • Wireless Card* – Under Network
  • Bluetooth* – Under Network
  • Keyboard/Mouse Application – Under Applications
  • Dell Quickset – Under Applications
  • Webcam Driver – Under Input

If using a SSD Cache Drive be sure to set it up after driver installation following the instructions.

Security

Windows 7 has Reached End of Life and is insecure however it is still a moderately popular Operating System and a lot of companies are still offering security products for it. I usually use Malwarebytes Antimalware:

3 thoughts on “Windows 7

  1. I don't know if this is relevant or not, but what your slides show don't match what I have on a non-Dell desktop. There is no option to download directly, the tool requires a 16 GB USB drive be inserted before it will even start the download and that is after selecting the Advanced tab option. Which is also missing the option to Select MBR or GPT for creating the bootable drive. I have a Latitude E6430 that I'm working on for someone that won't load Windows, just a black screen & cursor after POST. There's a recovery partition on the drive and system repair failed using Windows media. Now there is a MBR table in the C: and EFI system needs a GPT disk. So how was the previous OS installed on a MBR disk in a EFI system is what I don't understand.

    1. It is possible that Dell have updated the tool since I wrote the guide.

      At this stage Windows 7 has reached end of life. If you are going to go through the process of a clean install I would recommend using Windows 10 Version 1909 Installation Media which will accept the Windows 7 Pro Product Key on the CoA (likely in the battery compartment). You can Enable a UEFI Boot with Secure Boot before Windows 10 Pro installation.

  2. how can i determine md5 matches with the tool recovery checksums when i downloaded the file using the link from windows iso downloader?

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