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  1. #1
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    Dell Vista/Win7 licencing upgrade issue. Looking for suggestions.

    I recently acquired an old Dell precision workstation running Win 7 on an 80GB disk. I swapped the disc for a new SSD, and installed a fresh copy of Win 7 from a Dell OS disk. I wasn't asked for a licence key during the installation - which is normal for OEM installs.

    It's now telling me that the licence I entered 'is not valid for this version of windows' and the system needs to be activated within 30 days. Using the service tag I discovered the pc shipped in July 2009 with vista installed. The date means it probably qualified for Dell's free upgrade to Win7 offer. After 6 years all the pages relating to the free upgrade are gone, and I can't find any way to get the upgrade information.

    I called Microsoft and was referred to Dell. The Dell rep I chatted with seemed unsure - but said the free upgrade offer is no longer valid and I would need to buy a Win 8.1 licence.

    Any suggestions on how I can get an activated and valid Win 7 licence on this machine to use until I decide whether or not to upgrade the PC to win 10?

    Thanks

    NB - it's old, but has 2 x quad core Xeon processors and 8GB Ram - so it has some life left in it!

  2. #2
    jwoods
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    Download the free system management tool Belarc Advisor.

    http://www.belarc.com/free_download.html

    One of the things it will do is display license keys, including the Windows product key.

  3. #3
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    Depending upon where you are in the 30 day free trial, you could do another clean install and let that run for the 30 day trial period then run a command prompt as an admin and enter slmgr -rearm then reboot.

    You can do this once more which would give you 120 days, but I don't know if you would be able to start again with another clean install to get you to Win 10's release which is supposed to be sometime this summer.
    Last edited by Sudo15; 2015-05-14 at 05:00.

  4. #4
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    Which Precision model? Have you flashed the latest BIOS?

    The symptom you are experiencing is consistent with a Dell OEM DVD installed on a machine with a non-compliant BIOS.

    When installing from a Dell Reinstallation DVD, the installation routine looks for a SLIC/SLP BIOS in order to automatically activate. Installing Vista from a Dell DVD requires a SLIC 2.0 BIOS. Installing Win7 from a Dell DVD requires a SLIC 2.1 BIOS.

    If Dell shipped some computers of the same model to other customers with Win7 preinstalled, then those must have had a SLIC 2.1 BIOS. If earlier shipments of that same model had 2.0 BIOS's, then it's quite likely there is a BIOS update available to bring those up to 2.1--hence, the suggestion to make sure you have the latest BIOS version installed.

    (It's relevant whether Dell ever shipped a given model with Win7. If they did not--for example, if the production run for a particular model ended before Win7 was released--then there wouldn't have been any reason for Dell to update the SLIC version of the BIOS, and you'd be out of luck trying to install from a Dell disc on that computer.)

    Side note: If your machine does have a pre-2.1 BIOS and nevertheless had Win7 installed, then that Win7 was probably a non-Dell version that came with its own product key. I think what jwoods is referring to is using Belarc (or something similar) to ferret out that product key from the old 80GB HDD--assuming you haven't yet reformatted that disk.

  5. The Following User Says Thank You to dg1261 For This Useful Post:

    flippertie (2015-05-15)

  6. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by jwoods View Post
    Download the free system management tool Belarc Advisor.
    Thanks for the suggestion.
    I have the original Vista license key. What I don't have is the new key that allowed the free upgrade from Vista to Win7. I didn't get it from the seller, and I wiped the disk that came with the PC..

  7. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sudo15 View Post
    ... you could do another clean install ... enter slmgr -rearm then reboot ... would give you 120 days, ... get you to Win 10's release which is supposed to be sometime this summer.
    Interesting idea - but the free upgrade to Windows will only be for "qualified new or existing Windows 7, Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1 devices" and I'm pretty sure that an unactivated copy wouldn't qualify.

    It might allow me to keep using the box while I sort something out though.

  8. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by dg1261 View Post
    The symptom you are experiencing is consistent with a Dell OEM DVD installed on a machine with a non-compliant BIOS..
    That looks like the problem! The BIOS was at A04 (Aug 2008). I've upgraded to the latest (A11, 2012) which I assume will be SLIC 2.1 compliant.

    The box is a Precision T5400 and Dell has produced drivers for it up to Win 8.1. It's currently doing an in-place reinstall of Windows from the CD. I'm hoping this will either make the problem go away, or get me to a point where I can attempt and over-the-phone activation with Microsoft.

    Regarding the previously installed Win 7: I'm guessing the previous owner put that in after he got the machine from his employer. I saw a sticker on the chassis and never thought to check what version it was for.

    Thanks for putting me on the right track!

  9. #8
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    Follow up:
    The in-place re-install of windows 7 seemed to work, but then I got a bunch of failed updates etc. Couldn't upgrade IE 8 to IE 11 etc. I don't know if this is related to the re-install / licencing or not.

    As this is a new system that I plan to use for a long time I want the first disk images I take to be as clean as possible - so I decided to start again, with the updated BIOS.

    I did a complete fresh Win 7 Pro install from the disk - and this time it worked without a hitch. Once the install was finished Windows was licenced and ready to go.


    tl;dr - if you're upgrading an old PC from one major Windows version to another - make sure you update the BIOS first!

    Thanks people for the guidance

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