Jimmo

How to avoid customer having to enter product key?

33 posts in this topic

Hello there!

I've had a search within the forum and around the 'net and really need to double-check with folks here...

I use the OPK to do OEM installs (non-royalty) of Windows 7 onto new build systems which are then shipped to customers. This all works fine and the unattended install completes ok without any prompting (the product key is specified in the answer file). I then add any drivers specific to the config and reseal using sysprep.

The problem is that the out of box experience prompts the end customer for the product key, which often means squinting at the label stuck to the PC case under a dark desk etc..

I'm trying to figure out the best way to avoid this for the customer. I either need to pre-activate WIndows before shipping, or at least ensure the product key is retained somewhere so that the customer system can be activated once connected to the internet. The former is ideal but the latter will do, anything that avoids the end user having to punch the product key in themselves.

I've seen posts about storing keys in the BIOS or manually adding a call to slmgr.vbs in some startup script to set the product key etc. but I'd like to check what the best method actually is. After a smooth, painless automated install, it seems a bit kludgy to have to manually add a BIOS key or script call.

Please can anyone advise on an approach?

Also - and apologies for tagging a second question in here - but I'd like to test the out of box experience after resealing so I can verify what the end customer will experience. Naturally I'd like to do this without having to activate Windows or expire the SkipRearm limit, as it may take more than 8 iterations to fine tune the environment. Any advice on how best to do this would be gratefully received! :)

Many thanks in advance for taking the time to help...

Cheers,

Jim.

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#1 - unless you provide the product key in the unattend you pointed sysprep to when you reseal it, the only way around it is to use token activation (as the royalty OEMs do). You need to provide the key in the unattend you pass to sysprep, otherwise the user has to enter the key or skip activation altogether.

#2 - Use a virtual machine and snapshots, and get things 100% setup before you then do the same setup/configuration on your real hardware.

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I use the OPK to do OEM installs (non-royalty) of Windows 7 onto new build systems which are then shipped to customers.

I'm trying to figure out the best way to avoid this for the customer.

You are not allowed to do this. Since you are using the OPK, open the Windows OPK User's Guide. Under OEM User Experience Guidelines, License Requirements click OEM Requirements. Read the second paragraph under the "Anti-Piracy Support" section. If you have any further questions regarding Microsoft licensing, you should contact your Microsoft Partner account rep.

Since specific OPK documentation is communicated under NDA, I cannot post a quote from that guide.

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Thanks Trip - I forget which licensing terms apply to OEMs that aren't royalty anymore. Trip is right :).

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Thanks folks!

I did check out the reference and saw the difference between royalty OEM and system builder (me). Thanks Tripredacus!

This is ok, having the end user activate is perfectly fine, I just want to avoid the end customer being prompted for the product key itself during OOBE "first use" setup process.

If I understand the user guide/license requirements correctly, having the product key "pre-installed" but still requiring the user to activate their copy of windows is still legitimate for a system builder OEM, because this is not pre-activation.

I'll see about pointing sysprep at an unattend.xml as cluberti suggests (shame it doesn't pick this up from the autounattend.xml answer file which already has the key specified).

Thanks again for the help! (And the VM tip, d'oh - I should have thought of that)

Cheers

Jim

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This is ok, having the end user activate is perfectly fine, I just want to avoid the end customer being prompted for the product key itself during OOBE "first use" setup process.

If I understand the user guide/license requirements correctly, having the product key "pre-installed" but still requiring the user to activate their copy of windows is still legitimate for a system builder OEM, because this is not pre-activation.

No it is not correct. It plainly states what is required. The only product key that should be "pre-installed" is the install key, which gets removed during sysprep anyways.

If the information I pointed to you is not present in your OPK Guide, contact your rep to get an updated copy. Also ask your rep if you should be using the OPK or if you should be using the WAIK.

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Got it now! I downloaded a fresh copy to be sure and yes, saw the part about the product key prompt being a mandatory part of the Windows welcome sequence.

Thanks for your patience and support.

Cheers,

Jim

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Oh, this looks like exactly what I am/will be dealing with.

I am working on customized syspreped image for Lenovo desktops. When installed from the DVDs that ship with them (or more like the recovery ones I ordered), they come activated already - of course. While looking at the command prompt, I noticed a product key was being applied by standard DISM command. No activation was required after installation and everything worked. After reading this thread, I am not sure at which point shall I add the key to the image. Do I need to put it in my autounattended.xml? Or do I need to do it in a different way? So far I have syspreped the image and plan to further customize it through SIM. Will adding the product key to autounattended.xml that way work?

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Oh, this looks like exactly what I am/will be dealing with.

I am working on customized syspreped image for Lenovo desktops. When installed from the DVDs that ship with them (or more like the recovery ones I ordered), they come activated already - of course. While looking at the command prompt, I noticed a product key was being applied by standard DISM command. No activation was required after installation and everything worked. After reading this thread, I am not sure at which point shall I add the key to the image. Do I need to put it in my autounattended.xml? Or do I need to do it in a different way? So far I have syspreped the image and plan to further customize it through SIM. Will adding the product key to autounattended.xml that way work?

The type of Windows you are using is different from the OP. The OP can't hide the product key because he is a reseller and using the OPK.

The systems you have are using OA from whoever you bought them from. The rules in the OPK would not apply to you in this case because you did not create that image. The image you make will only work on those Lenovo systems and you do not need to specify a product key. The only time activation would be needed is if you tried to put those images on other hardware.

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Ok then. I assume the key is only meant to be used for installation and is checked vs MS servers, but cannot be activated in the usual way, right? So simply doing dism /set-productkey (or whatever the syntax is) in autounattended.xml should be enough in my case?

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Ok then. I assume the key is only meant to be used for installation and is checked vs MS servers, but cannot be activated in the usual way, right? So simply doing dism /set-productkey (or whatever the syntax is) in autounattended.xml should be enough in my case?

There is a different key used for installations. That one cannot be activated. If you are capturing an image based on an OEM install, it already has the product key in it, and you shouldn't have to do anything about product keys.

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Hm, I am actually using image downloaded from MSDN, because the one that comes from Lenovo is full of junk I don't want installed, and on top of that they do not have one with SP yet (and probably never will).

The key I discovered is being reported by 3rd party tools from live installations, so I though it was the one. No idea where to look for a different one. Either way, it can't be activated anyway. Getting confused here.

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Using image from MS don't contain things needed although it is better with SP1

Look at on

When installed from the DVDs that ship with them
System32\OEM. will probably find the files

lenovo.oemcert.100036.xrm-ms

Now also look at SETUP\SCRIPTS which probably contains .cmd files

Example:

cscript %windir%\system32\slmgr.vbs -ilc %windir%\system32\oem\lenovo.oemcert.100036.xrm-ms

cscript %windir%\system32\slmgr.vbs -ipk xxxxx-xxxxx-xxxxx

Once installed it usually deletes them .cmd files

You can look in live install Windows\Panther and find xml they use to install but product key gets stripped from it but will point at lenovo images you need also

Edited by maxXPsoft
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Nothing useful on live computers at all, and the recovery media do not contain anything visible either :(

I'll just try to throw the key that's being reported after installation into unattended file and see if it works. I guess not though.

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yes remember that now, Dell sent me an upgrade to Win 7 and all it was Microsoft Windows 7 Dvd exactly

Do you have recovery partition? I have opened that up and looked at things in the past.

I repair some PCs here so I dig under the hood to the extreme.

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Yup, the recovery partition is present but there are only a couple of random files and images. Nothing to see.

Maybe I could install the system from the recovery DVDs and try to go to audit mode to see if there are still files to be looked for on the disk?

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yes could do that in VM actually.

Really strange you cannot see the files, are you sure you have all options unchecked under folder op[tions

Trying to remember how I took control of my entire recovery partition and was able to browse it. Have a laptop new I'll test later on

something like this run from a Admin cmd prompt. replace Administrators with your language version of it

echo y| icacls "D:\*" /grant Administrators:F /T
attrib -R -A -S -H "D:\" /S /D

Edited by maxXPsoft
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Ok I mounted the recovery partition image and found a few batch files. Each is specific to a windows edition and only contains a command for adding product key to the image used. It's the same key installed PCs report as being installed with. Is the activation done through some command, or how do they do it? Because naturally no activation is needed once the system is installed.

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Ok I mounted the recovery partition image and found a few batch files. Each is specific to a windows edition and only contains a command for adding product key to the image used. It's the same key installed PCs report as being installed with. Is the activation done through some command, or how do they do it? Because naturally no activation is needed once the system is installed.

The image in the recovery partition should be activated already.

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But that's not what I need/am asking about... How! How!?

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open admin cmd prompt and type slmgr -dli | slmgr -xpr | slmgr -dlv

if OEM then then under description it will say OEM_SLP channel

That is done with Slic 2.1 bios and the key only. Automatic activation. You must create OEM folders and add those files to your DVD\sources\$OEM$ exactly where they are in the recovery. Make sure you get the *.xrm-ms from Windows\System32\OEM and place in DVD\sources\$oem$\$$\System32\OEM

Edited by maxXPsoft
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I will give it a shot.

Now that I think about it, in the worst case I will install the machines with the OEM keys which are on the stickers on their sides. It's just that I still hope I will be able to do it with the Lenovo key without having to type anything anywhere (and bothering with activation).

Edited by TheWalrus
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OEM structure created in DVD\souces folder

$OEM$
$$ <<- C:\Windows $$\Web\Wallpaper <<- Wallpapers here
Setup\Scripts <<- setupcomplete.cmd
System32 <<- $$\System32\OEM <<- OEM *.xrm-ms + valid Product Key
$1 <<- Drive Root
Drivers <<- where some OEM place driver files
Install <<- where I place most things and call from there. EX: %SystemRoot%\Install\Firstlog.cmd

Done a lenovo some time back messed up with viruses here was the folders I copied from Recovery part

Plug your key in anywhere within the cmd files

post-9484-0-67088500-1312246224_thumb.pn

Edited by maxXPsoft
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Now that I think about it, in the worst case I will install the machines with the OEM keys which are on the stickers on their sides.

Those keys cannot be used for an install. Those keys can only be used for Telephone Activation.

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