Windows 7

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Windows Product Key

Windows 7 and Windows 8 keys still act as Windows 10 Keys and I recommend migrating to the latest build of Windows 10 Version 1809 (September 2018).

Windows 7 Product Key

Windows 7 Product Keys were physically printed on labels.

These labels were often placed under the battery compartment of laptops or inside the computer cover of desktops to prevent fading.

Laptop COA

They can be used for a one-time initial activation of Windows 10. Once Windows 10 is installed and activated you don’t need the key anymore as the systems hardware profile is registered with a Microsoft Product Activation Server. You can just clean install the correct edition of Windows 10 without a Product key.

  • Windows 7 Starter → Windows 10 Home
  • Windows 7 Home Basic  Windows 10 Home
  • Windows 7 Home Premium → Windows 10 Home
  • Windows 7 Professional → Windows 10 Pro
  • Windows 7 Ultimate → Windows 10 Pro

For Windows 7 OEM Installation, the Product Key on the COA is not applied as OEM System Locked Preinstallation is applied. Dell Media will not ask for a Product Key and Activate if the Dell BIOS has an eligible System License Internal Code (SLIC 2.1). See OEM Downgrade Mechanisms and Downgrade Rights for more details about OEM System Locked Preinstallation.

Note if your system has these stickers:

win10ProWin8Pro

They did not come with a Windows 7 Pro License but a Windows 10 Pro OEM License or Windows 8 Pro OEM License. Downgrade Rights were Applied to activate Windows 7 Pro OEM. See Windows 8 and Windows 10 Product keys below for more details about these licenses.

Windows 8 and 10 Product Keys

These Product Keys are embedded in the UEFI BIOS of Windows 10. Windows 10 Installation Media will automatically input them during installation and install the Correct Edition of Windows 10.

The following stickers denote a system which has an OEM System Locked Preinstallation Key compatible with Windows 10:

Win10HomeWin8HomeWin8Bingwin10ProWin8Pro

See OEM Downgrade Mechanisms and Downgrade Rights for more details about OEM System Locked Preinstallation.

Diagnostics

If your system cannot Boot into Windows, you should run diagnosis to determine whether or not your system has an issue due to Hardware Failure or due to Software Failure. You may also want to attempt Data Recovery before proceeding.

Slow Performance? – Upgrade your System Drive to a Solid State Drive

If you’ve came to these guides if you are running an Older Dell System and your Hard Drive (HDD) has failed or if your system has sluggish performance (100 % Disk Usage) then you should consider upgrading to a Solid State Drive (SSD). I recommend a Crucial SSD.

System Manual

You should check your System Manual to determine what drive types are compatible – usually 2.5″ or M.2. Also check how easy, the system is to open to get to the drives it’s usually very easy with Desktops, where you slide off the cover and get right to the drives. It can be slightly more difficult with Laptops, where you need to be careful how you take off the cover and may need to disconnect the battery first. Some systems such as Tablets have the drive soldered onto the motherboard and are non-upgradable. Dell offer great Service Manuals especially for their business range of products (but usually the home models also).

You can run Windows 10 comfortably with a 250 GB SSD however if you need to store more files on it the 500 GB-1000 GB is recommended. I personally would avoid 120 GB SSDs or less.

2.5″ SSDs

These are now affordable and I recommend the Crucial MX500 (below are affiliate links).

3.5″ Drives

These use the same connectors as the 2.5 ” Drives, you just need a spacer

M.2 Drives

Your system will already have a SSD installed if you only have a M.2 slot.

Getting Windows on your New SSD

Although I recommend A Clean Install of Windows 10 (more details below). You can use Macrium Reflect to create a image of your Windows Boot Drive onto an External Hard Drive and with Bootable Media you can restore this onto your new SSD. See my guide Backing Up Your Windows Installation Using Macrium Reflect.

Windows 7

Latest Hardware

Windows 7 Pro 64 Bit can only run on systems with a 6th Generation Intel Processor or Earlier. The newest Dell Systems to run Windows 7 Pro 64 Bit are the OptiPlex 7040 and OptiPlex 3040. You can no longer get these on the Dell Website as they have been superseded by the OptiPlex 7050 and OptiPlex 3050 respectively but you can find plenty on Amazon (I’ll give affiliate US and UK links below, if you use these, it will help me cover the costs of running this website).

A Clean Install of Windows 7

These set of guides are for an absolute Clean Install i.e. Securely Wiping your System and Starting Fresh. Follow these guides to Download Windows 7 Installation Media, Securely Wipe your SSD/HDD/HSSD and then Create a Bootable USB with Necessary Driver Support to Clean Install. After Clean Installation it instructs in Driver Installation Order.

Virtualisation of Windows 7

It is sometimes more convenient to install Legacy Versions of Windows in a Virtual Environment. This will instruct you in creating a New Virtual Machine to Install Windows 7 Pro on using a modern Host PC with a Windows 10 Pro OEM License. Alternatively it will instruct you in converting the Windows Installation of a Physical Machine into a Virtual Machine.


 

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