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[Tutorial] Clean Windows Vista Install - No Activation needed

42 posts in this topic

maxXPsoft: I see your point, but I think my scenario is different than yours, and is very common for a lot of people. I am coming from the perspective of a laptop that comes pre-installed with an image from the manufacturer. Many manufacturers do not include a specialized Vista reinstall disc, only a restore disc that includes all the junk software. There is no way to separate the two. In that case, if you want to do a clean install, you can use the backup and restore tools to extract the product key and activation certificate, then use those after doing a reinstall using the Anytime Upgrade DVD, which is a pure Vista install disk -- it has no drivers or activation specific to the OEM.

I suppose you would characterize this method as doing an install using your OEM credentials on a retail version of the Vista disc. For myself and many buyers, this is the only option you have.

My specific target for these tools are people who just barely know how to do a reinstall. Anyone who is capable, willing, or has the time (that's a big one) to create their own custom disc will probably find their own way to do it. I also wanted to avoid the step of "search google to find the certificate files", because to many people, that sounds scummy and like piracy. The idea that you can just back it up off your own computer is much more above-board.

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ok but you can simplify it as i mentioned. My M8 also didn't get a dvd from the manufacturer so he called and they sent him a clean disk, matched the other vista_RTM

My brother had problems with his Gateway laptop that was courtesy upgraded and i copied the disk and compared to vista_RTM and they were exact, no changes at all. makes that C:\WINDOWS\ServiceProfiles\NetworkService\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\SoftwareLicensing\tokens.dat look funny how it can match in all cases don't it?

EDIT: made a mistake since i've been comparing a lot of different Oem dvds. The Dell Oem dvd matched except the $Oem$ structure which I said earlier

Edited by maxXPsoft
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I guess your idea about what is simple differs from mine. To me, "1) unpack new laptop from the box, 2) boot for the first time to the pre-installed OS image, 3) run backup utility, 4) install fresh copy of vista, 5) run restore utility", is about as simple as you can get. You don't need to have any knowledge at all about unattended installs or how to use the "secret" $$ folders.

IMO, as soon as you start getting into "put this in the $OEM$ folder, do that with the tokens.dat file, make xml file, mounting WIM images, etc..." you have gone beyond what typical users, and even many "tinkerers", are willing to do. Even burning your own Vista DVD that is bootable, while not exactly challenging, is another big step that many people will not be comfortable with. It's not the steps that are hard, it's finding the knowledge and navigating Microsoft's mazes to figure out *which* steps you need to perform, many of which are far from obvious. At that point, you might as well be using vLite anyway.

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Well i got myself a retail version of vista ultimate x86 . is there anyway that i could backup my license and activation ? without making a image of my hardrive etc...

:hello:

Edited by Maickel
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THANKS!

This is perfect as the Acer my girlfriend got doesn't have a recovery disc & its loaded with crap, much changed from XP where there was almost no additional software installed.

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I guess your idea about what is simple differs from mine. To me, "1) unpack new laptop from the box, 2) boot for the first time to the pre-installed OS image, 3) run backup utility, 4) install fresh copy of vista, 5) run restore utility", is about as simple as you can get. You don't need to have any knowledge at all about unattended installs or how to use the "secret" $$ folders.

IMO, as soon as you start getting into "put this in the $OEM$ folder, do that with the tokens.dat file, make xml file, mounting WIM images, etc..." you have gone beyond what typical users, and even many "tinkerers", are willing to do. Even burning your own Vista DVD that is bootable, while not exactly challenging, is another big step that many people will not be comfortable with. It's not the steps that are hard, it's finding the knowledge and navigating Microsoft's mazes to figure out *which* steps you need to perform, many of which are far from obvious. At that point, you might as well be using vLite anyway.

I guess it comes down to what you need, a developer may need to do many installs & testing very frequently & with some work an unattended install is very fast. Ghosted images also are sound. None of this is meant to be simple for the "typical user" but gives the means if so desired.

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Download the Activation Backup and Restore program above.

Open the file and copy the ABR folder to your USB flash drive, external drive, or second internal hard drive.

Double click activation_backup.exe. This will open a cmd window and extract the OEM Vista key. If all goes OK you will see two new files in the ABR folder.

backup-cert.xrm-ms: Backed up activation

backup-key.txt: Backed-up product key

do i do those steps while im running windows xp still?

and do i NEED to do a clean install or can i upgrade?

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Is there any way to back up activation if I buy an OEM Vista disc from a store and install in my DIY computer?

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Is there any way to back up activation if I buy an OEM Vista disc from a store and install in my DIY computer?

Not currently. I have an idea about it, but no time to implement ATM.

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Will this also work if I get a Vista in german and install a fresh Vista in English?

I got a Vista Home Premium.

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Will this also work if I get a Vista in german and install a fresh Vista in English?

I got a Vista Home Premium.

I don't know of a reason it would not work, but I don't have any experience with versions other than the standard US/English version. You can run the backup, then check the 2 created files. If they have something in them, then it worked.

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Since I have 14 Machines (Acer) that are preloaded with Vista Business and all the Acer bloatware & trial crap, I would like to go to each machine and backup the activations data and store the data for each on a server in corresponding folders like LAB01, LAB02, etc...

Then I would like to do a clean install on one of the machines and configure everything the way I want and then Sysprep it so I can make an image. I have a script that I used on XP machines that would run after the image has been deployed and is about to boot for the first time that would query the machines MAC address and look it up in a database to determine the Computer Name and it's Product Key an automatically apply that information. I'm hoping to extend that script to be able to also apply the corresponding activation data that had been backed up.

Any ideas on this??

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Since I have 14 Machines (Acer) that are preloaded with Vista Business and all the Acer bloatware & trial crap, I would like to go to each machine and backup the activations data and store the data for each on a server in corresponding folders like LAB01, LAB02, etc...

Then I would like to do a clean install on one of the machines and configure everything the way I want and then Sysprep it so I can make an image. I have a script that I used on XP machines that would run after the image has been deployed and is about to boot for the first time that would query the machines MAC address and look it up in a database to determine the Computer Name and it's Product Key an automatically apply that information. I'm hoping to extend that script to be able to also apply the corresponding activation data that had been backed up.

Any ideas on this??

You can back up each system by hand, then use the --silent option when doing the restore int the script. It's mentioned in the README. You'll need to make sure the correct license files are in the directory before restoring.

This thread links to an out of date version of ABR. Get the the most recent version my (official) site: http://directedge.us/content/abr-activatio...kup-and-restore

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Thanks, good info on your site! But I'm curious if you have a non exe version like script format that I can modify or switches like: activation_restore.exe -silent /p //server/activation/labpc01. (where the /p represents the path). I would like to run a script during the sysprep stage after an image has been deployed that will tell your program the path to the activation data for the particular computer it's on. The determining factor for which computer it's working on will be the MAC address which it cross references in a lookup table. Let me know if I should post my current code as I know it's going to need some tweaking for Vista.

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Thanks, good info on your site! But I'm curious if you have a non exe version like script format that I can modify or switches like: activation_restore.exe -silent /p //server/activation/labpc01. (where the /p represents the path). I would like to run a script during the sysprep stage after an image has been deployed that will tell your program the path to the activation data for the particular computer it's on. The determining factor for which computer it's working on will be the MAC address which it cross references in a lookup table. Let me know if I should post my current code as I know it's going to need some tweaking for Vista.

That's a good idea and i'll add it to the todo list, though I probably won't be able to add it soon. A good way to workaround this in your batch file could be:

set OLDDIR=%CD%

cd //server/activation/labpc01

activation_restore.exe --silent

cd "%OLDDIR%"

I'm not sure if you can 'cd' into a network path though. Otherwise you could make a temp dir and then copy the files into it.

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