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Windows 7 licenses

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First post, by debs3759

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I'm setting up a Windows 7 PC for a friend. The license I bought off eBay won't activate. Will Media Player or a 3rd party media player work as expected on an unactivated copy of Windows 7?

Also, I'm just starting out setting up numerous retro systems, from 486 up to C2Q. I plan to use Windows 7 on all socket 775 systems, and for benching with hwbot, I will have to use W7 on later systems as well. What restrictions are there on an unactivated install? Should I be looking at buying licenses, or is unactivated just as efficient for benching and gaming?

Reply 1 of 21, by Errius

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You get thirty days of use I think?

I know that activation can be postponed ('rearmed') three times with Server 2008 R2, giving you 3 months of free use. Is the same possible with W7?

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Reply 2 of 21, by debs3759

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No idea yet. My only other option at the moment is to use XP, as I have a pre-activated copy, but my supposedly pre-activated Win 7 doesn't seem to be, and I know I can't ask for a link to a pre-activated copy here 😀

Reply 3 of 21, by LSS10999

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Windows 7 can also be rearmed up to 3 times for a total of 120 days.

There are no restrictions during this period and you're considered genuine.

Not sure where you got the license from... you probably need to ask the dealer if the key doesn't activate.

Reply 4 of 21, by debs3759

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LSS10999 wrote on 2020-11-02, 00:19:

Windows 7 can also be rearmed up to 3 times for a total of 120 days.

There are no restrictions during this period and you're considered genuine.

Thanks. I might just put XP on the system I'm giving my friend, as that worked last time I used it. 120 days is fine for benching systems.

Not sure where you got the license from... you probably need to ask the dealer if the key doesn't activate.

I bought two licenses off ebay over 6 months ago, but only just got round to using the first one. It does offer the option of activating by phone, so I might try that - just don't really want to if I'm going to set up 7 on several PCs 😀

Reply 5 of 21, by texterted

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Does it say the key is invalid or does activation just fail?

I ask this because I just did an install the other day. It kept throwing errors until I let it do a few windows updates. Then it just worked.

Cheers

Ted

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Reply 6 of 21, by debs3759

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Updates should finish soon, then I'll try again. I t says it is invalid for activation, but it did say I could try activating by phone. I might try doing that tomorrow. I have found some unused codes, so hope they will still be available when I can next pay in 11 days.

Reply 7 of 21, by maximus

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Not sure how much of this applies to Windows 7, but I've learned some interesting things about Windows XP activation over the years. This will likely provoke some cries of "but that violates the license agreement, blah blah blah"... yeah, okay, maybe. What interests me is whether Microsoft actually allows the action or not.

From what I can deduce, activation works like this: First, Windows generates a hash (or maybe multiple hashes) based on your current hardware configuration and the license key you entered. Certain components like the motherboard and NIC are given more weight here. Next, you transmit your hash(s) to Microsoft. If everything is gucci, they record the activation, run your hash(s) through a function that generates another hash, and transmit this new hash back to you. Windows then compares this number against one it calculated internally. If they match, activation is successful and Windows never needs to call home again. If the hardware configuration changes enough, though, the numbers will no longer match and Bad Things will happen. Maybe you can reactivate, maybe not; I've never gone down this road.

The key thing about Windows XP activation is that Microsoft's servers only store activation information for 120 days. Confirmed this experimentally for OEM keys; not sure if it applies to retail keys. In any case, this is super useful for the following reasons: First, as long as you don't need to activate too often, a single OEM key is all you'll ever need. Second, knowing this exponentially expands your options for obtaining a working key. Just need to find a key that hasn't been used in the past 120 days and no one is likely to use again. Scrapped computers with COAs on the side are perfect for this. There are some restrictions: for example, Windows XP Pro keys can only be used with Pro installation media, and the same goes for Home. I think there are also some shenanigans with service pack versions, like newer keys won't work with older media. This part almost certainly applies to Windows 7 and its different versions as well.

Another useful thing has to do with activation method. I only discovered this in the past year or so since online activation stopped working for Windows XP. As of today, the only legit way I know of to activate Windows XP is to call Microsoft's activation center at 888-352-7140. There's no human interaction involved, just a surprisingly slick robot. The downside of phone activation is you have to painstakingly speak or type your hash(s) into the system, then it reads the second hash back to you and you have to painstakingly enter it into the prompt. The upside is you can save the second hash and use it again. As long as the hardware configuration doesn't change too much, it should work for the life of the system. No need to interact with Microsoft on subsequent installs. Pretty nifty.

Hope some of this will be helpful in getting Windows 7 activated. I'm sure there are some less legit ways to do it but I've never trusted those 😆

PCGames9505

Reply 8 of 21, by debs3759

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Just bought 10 unused license stickers, so problem solved. I'm hoping they arrive before our new lockdown starts on Thursday.

Reply 9 of 21, by Errius

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I have also been putting Windows 7 everywhere lately. I even have a couple of rigs with both 32-bit and 64-bit versions installed.

6 GB RAM on a 64-bit system is effectively the same as 3 GB on a 32-bit system isn't it?

“Your mission is to attack and destroy the Apple Computer manufacturing plant. You are allotted 35 bombs and 60 lasers."

Reply 10 of 21, by debs3759

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I'm never sure about that. I know that 4GB is the max for 32-bit, which will only be able to use 3.5, and it's not enough for 64-bit.

Reply 11 of 21, by dr_st

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Errius wrote on 2020-11-02, 14:12:

6 GB RAM on a 64-bit system is effectively the same as 3 GB on a 32-bit system isn't it?

Well, no. There is some overhead to a 64-bit system, but nowhere near a 100% overhead.

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Reply 12 of 21, by Errius

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But if all data structures are twice the size in memory, wouldn't you need double the memory to store the same amount of data?

“Your mission is to attack and destroy the Apple Computer manufacturing plant. You are allotted 35 bombs and 60 lasers."

Reply 13 of 21, by andrea

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debs3759 wrote on 2020-11-02, 01:59:

Updates should finish soon, then I'll try again. I t says it is invalid for activation, but it did say I could try activating by phone. I might try doing that tomorrow. I have found some unused codes, so hope they will still be available when I can next pay in 11 days.

Is there any chance the key may be "recycled" from some major OEM machine? Around Vista-time they noticed people were going around electronics stores writing down the keys on demo machines, so they made these funky OEM keys for computers where the activation would normally be done by SLIC tables (= you would need the key on the sticker only if you replaced the motherboard with a non-OEM one*) that will only activate by phone, and not automagically over the internet.

Try selecting the activate by phone and run the codes through this site: https://microsoft.gointeract.io/interact/inde … 26&token=0Yr8Nd
It looks dodgy but it's what MS would send you if you call them and choose to activate via smartphone. I used it earlier this year to activate a XP license and it worked. As far as I know XP's activate-by-phone algorithm hasn't been cracked yet**, so if it works there must be a legitimate backend.

If it says that the link is expired try googling for "Self Service for Mobile" and you should find updated links, usually on Reddit.

*Of course, there are ways to add SLIC tables to any BIOS, but that's not for this forum.
**The source leak from last month it's missing Winlogon and, therefore, the activation stuff, so that can't be either.

Reply 14 of 21, by maximus

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andrea wrote on 2020-11-02, 19:01:

**The source leak from last month it's missing Winlogon and, therefore, the activation stuff, so that can't be either.

Darn. I was hoping a one-and-done offline activation patch would come out of that.

PCGames9505

Reply 15 of 21, by dr_st

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Errius wrote on 2020-11-02, 18:29:

But if all data structures are twice the size in memory, wouldn't you need double the memory to store the same amount of data?

But they are not.

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Reply 16 of 21, by andrea

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maximus wrote on 2020-11-02, 19:11:
andrea wrote on 2020-11-02, 19:01:

**The source leak from last month it's missing Winlogon and, therefore, the activation stuff, so that can't be either.

Darn. I was hoping a one-and-done offline activation patch would come out of that.

Maybe there's something in the 2003 tree, but I haven't followed that much.

The best way for now it's probably DMI editing and OEM-SLP.

Reply 17 of 21, by The Serpent Rider

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Yeah, I had that problem with Vista Ultimate last year, so I had to activate it via phone. Although today I've managed to activate it via internet. So apparently activation servers for old OS are unstable and AFAIK Windows XP can be activated only by phone.

What restrictions are there on an unactivated install?

Actually, not much. You're stuck with black screen instead of chosen wallpaper and OS will nag you about activation. Nothing too serious to prevent you from benching stuff.

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Reply 18 of 21, by cyclone3d

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Errius wrote on 2020-11-02, 18:29:

But if all data structures are twice the size in memory, wouldn't you need double the memory to store the same amount of data?

That's not how it works at all.

With 64-bit programs, you only use 64-bit data structures where needed. No reason to waste space.

32-bit programs will not take any more RAM when used on a 64-bit system.

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Reply 19 of 21, by Jo22

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Traditionally, 64-Bit programs would take up more memory due to bigger word size, larger pointers etc.
However, modern OSes usually shorten these things, so 64-Bit programs don't take up significantly more space than their 32-Bit cousins. In some cases, even less, because due to optimizations.

It's a bit like Win16 vs Win32s applications.
Windows 3.1 ran both of them more or less fine and the overhead was not extreme.
A 386 could run the Win32s applications even quicker sometimes than ordinary 16-Bit binaries..

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