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OEM re-install question.

Anshad Edavana

New Member
Power User
Hi

I work as a PC tech and sometimes i may need to re-install Windows on laptops which has it's hard drive failed. In case of Windows 7, it's a fairly easy process. You just have to look in to the COA sticker, install the same edition and then use phone activation. "Windows 8" made the process more easy by embedding OEM key in to the BIOS. The install media will pick the BIOS embedded key automatically and internet activation will work - supposed to be peace of cake. However my question is how one will find the version of "Windows 8" came with the machine in case of the HDD is failed ?. In my experience most of the common users are not tech savvy and they have no idea about different versions of Windows. Very few of them even know that you can create a "Recovery" USB to re-install Windows in case something like this happened.
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 7

KYHI

Well-Known Member
Pro User
without actually having a working version of windows - to check the edition or to pull the embedded product key, it is somewhat hard to do..

There are several programs that will show the embedded key and a member "Superfly" wrote a program to check the edition.. It only works from within a windows environment though.. He has a link in his sig to the program

Showkey - Windows 10 Forums
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 3.1 > Windows 10
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    System Manufacturer/Model
    Dell XPS 8700
    CPU
    I7
    Memory
    24 GB

popeye

New Member
VIP Member
Guru
Maybe the manufacturer can tell by the serial number of the machine?
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 8.1 Pro 64-bit
    Computer type
    Laptop
    System Manufacturer/Model
    Acer V3 771G-6443
    CPU
    i5-3230m
    Motherboard
    Acer VA70_HC (U3E1)
    Memory
    8GB DDR3 PC3-12800 (800 MHz)
    Graphics Card(s)
    HD4000 + GeForce GT 730M
    Sound Card
    Realtek High Definition Audio
    Monitor(s) Displays
    17" Generic PnP Display on Intel HD Graphics 4000
    Screen Resolution
    1600x900 pixels
    Hard Drives
    Samsung SSD 850 EVO 250 GB
    ADATA SSD SP900 128GB
    PSU
    90 watt brick
    Mouse
    Bluetooth
    Antivirus
    Comodo
    Other Info
    Asus RT-AC56R dual-band WRT router (Merlin firmware). Intel 7260.HMWWB.R dual-band ac wireless adapter.

Anshad Edavana

New Member
Power User
@KYHI

Pulling the key is not an issue. I can install a trial version of "Windows 8" or boot from a PE and retrieve the BIOS embedded key. Then what we do with that key without knowing which edition was installed on that machine ?. Currently what i do is trying different editions of Windows one by one and find which one auto read the key from BIOS. This is an option for me because i have multiple editions of Windows in my hand. That won't be an option for a normal user. I guess he/she should download and try different editions of Windows one by one using "Media creation tool" - taking in to consideration that ordering recovery media option is only available in a selected few countries.
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 7

Anshad Edavana

New Member
Power User
Thanks. I never knew that "ShowKey" can also identify the OEM edition. That's what exactly i am looking for :).

I hope MS will limit Win 10 to "Professional" and "Enterprise" editions only - or at least no more "with Bing" editions which can't be clean installed.
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 7

KYHI

Well-Known Member
Pro User
with BING is what screws everybody - can't download it - and have to use the OEM factory recovery option
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 3.1 > Windows 10
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    System Manufacturer/Model
    Dell XPS 8700
    CPU
    I7
    Memory
    24 GB

alphanumeric

slightly off center
VIP Member
Guru
Gold Member
The With Bing and Single language editions can be a pain. The COA sticker, as far as I can tell, will only tell you if its Pro or one of the other editions. If it doesn't say Pro it could be core or SL or SL with Bing. Pain in the you know what when the PC won't boot to Windows so you can figure out what edition was installed. My MSDN ISO's will install Core or Pro depending on what key is found/used. No good though if its SL or SL with Bing. Like KYHI said, the With Bing can be hard to find. It's not listed on MSDN or the Media Creation Tool. On the Plus side, the Media Creation Tool install media will read and use Windows 8.0 keys and 8.1 keys. Saves you having to install 8.0 and upgrading to 8.1. Or messing with generic install keys. I'm lucky, both of my laptops have regular 8.0 keys. I can use my MSDN ISO's of the Media Creation Tool media.
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 10 Education 64 Bit
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    System Manufacturer/Model
    Asus
    CPU
    AMD Phenom II X4 980 Black Edition Deneb 3.7GHz
    Motherboard
    ASUS M4N68T-M V2 µATX Motherboard
    Memory
    8GB 4GBx2 Kingston PC10600 DDR3 1333 Memory
    Graphics Card(s)
    NVIDIA Geforce GT640 2 Gig DDR3 PCIe
    Sound Card
    VIA VT1708s High Definition Audio 8-channel Onboard
    Monitor(s) Displays
    22" LG E2242 1080p and 2 19" I-INC AG191D
    Screen Resolution
    1280x1024 - 1920x1080 - 1280x1024
    Hard Drives
    Crucial MX100 256 GB SSD and 500 GB WD Blue SATA
    PSU
    Thermaltake TR 620
    Case
    Power Up Black ATX Mid-Tower Case
    Cooling
    Stock heatsink fan
    Keyboard
    Logitech Wireless K350 Wave
    Mouse
    Logitech M570 Trackball and T650 TouchPad
    Internet Speed
    80 Mbps Down 30 Mbps Up
    Browser
    Internet Explorer 11
    Antivirus
    Windows Defender
    Other Info
    HP DVD1040e Lightscribe - External USB2

Ztruker

Well-Known Member
VIP Member
Guru
The way it should work is the embeded key should tell the installer which version to install and all install media, DVD or flash drive should have all versions available, just like you see if you remove the ei.cfg file in Vista, Windows 7 and I think 8 and 8.1.

I just scanned a Windows 10 TP x64 iso and do not see a ei.cfg file.
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 10 Pro X64
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    System Manufacturer/Model
    Lenovo IdeaCenter K450
    CPU
    Intel Quad Core i7-4770 @ 3.4Ghz
    Motherboard
    Lenovo
    Memory
    16.0GB PC3-12800 DDR3 SDRAM 1600 MHz
    Graphics Card(s)
    Intel Integrated HD Graphics
    Sound Card
    Realtek HD Audio
    Monitor(s) Displays
    HP h2207
    Screen Resolution
    1680x1050@59Hz
    Hard Drives
    250GB Samsung EVO SATA-3 SSD;
    2TB Seagate ST2000DM001 SATA-2;
    1.5TB Seagate ST3150041AS SATA
    PSU
    500W
    Keyboard
    Wired USB
    Mouse
    Wired USB
    Internet Speed
    3GB Up, 30GB Down
    Browser
    SeaMonkey
    Antivirus
    Windows Defender; MBAM Pro
    Other Info
    UEFI/GPT
    PLDS DVD-RW DH16AERSH

Superfly

Developer
VIP Member
Guru
Yup, the all-in-one windows 7 ISO's were a pleasure - unfortunately, the ways things are going with ESD distribution, that is a thing of the past... The good news on the other hand is that Windows 10 editions have been drastically cut down to just Core, Pro and Enterprise in the current schema (although all previous Win 8 editions, apart from WMC, are supported) ...with only Pro as an OEM version - it may change come GA release but here's hoping...
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    PC-DOS v1.0
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    System Manufacturer/Model
    IBM
    CPU
    Intel 8088, 4.77MHz
    Memory
    16K, 640K max
    Graphics Card(s)
    What's that?
    Sound Card
    Not quite
    Screen Resolution
    80 X 24 text
    Hard Drives
    dual 160KB 5.25-inch disk drives

alphanumeric

slightly off center
VIP Member
Guru
Gold Member
Windows 8.x doesn't have an ei.cfg file either. Putting one on the MSDN ISO will lock it into one version. Windows 8 works differently. The stock MSDN ISO's will read your key and install Core or Pro depending on what the embedded key is. If no key is found or its a SL or Bing key, you get prompted to enter a key. Enter a Core key and Core is installed, enter a pro key and pro is installed. There is no option to leave it blank, if you do you can't go any farther because it doesn't know what version to install without a key. Add an ei.cfg and its locked into what ever version you code the ei.cfg file for. You can now leave the product code field blank and install in a 30 day trial mode. Officially I don't think its called trial mode but that's what it equates too. You have 30 days to enter a key and activate or you progressively loose funtionallity until it refuses to work anymore.

The Media Creation Tool download is version specific. You get Core or Pro or Single Language. They will only accept their respective keys during installation. The Core download is a bigger file because it has the ability to be upgraded to Pro through add features. I do not believe it will accept a Pro key during installation though. If it did there wouldn't be any point in having the separate Pro download. Haven't tried it myself, not intentionally anyway. When I install Pro on my laptop I add a PID.txt file to save having to type the code in and speed up installation..

They could likely add all version to the one ISO. Likely wouldn't fit on a standard DVD then though. Not an issue for some of us but likely would be an issue for Joe average computer user. My 4 gig thumb drives are almost useless for install media now. The MSDN image is just to big to fit on them. The Media Creation Tool Image just fits, if I create the media manually with diskpart.
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 10 Education 64 Bit
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    System Manufacturer/Model
    Asus
    CPU
    AMD Phenom II X4 980 Black Edition Deneb 3.7GHz
    Motherboard
    ASUS M4N68T-M V2 µATX Motherboard
    Memory
    8GB 4GBx2 Kingston PC10600 DDR3 1333 Memory
    Graphics Card(s)
    NVIDIA Geforce GT640 2 Gig DDR3 PCIe
    Sound Card
    VIA VT1708s High Definition Audio 8-channel Onboard
    Monitor(s) Displays
    22" LG E2242 1080p and 2 19" I-INC AG191D
    Screen Resolution
    1280x1024 - 1920x1080 - 1280x1024
    Hard Drives
    Crucial MX100 256 GB SSD and 500 GB WD Blue SATA
    PSU
    Thermaltake TR 620
    Case
    Power Up Black ATX Mid-Tower Case
    Cooling
    Stock heatsink fan
    Keyboard
    Logitech Wireless K350 Wave
    Mouse
    Logitech M570 Trackball and T650 TouchPad
    Internet Speed
    80 Mbps Down 30 Mbps Up
    Browser
    Internet Explorer 11
    Antivirus
    Windows Defender
    Other Info
    HP DVD1040e Lightscribe - External USB2

alphanumeric

slightly off center
VIP Member
Guru
Gold Member
Yup, the all-in-one windows 7 ISO's were a pleasure - unfortunately, the ways things are going with ESD distribution, that is a thing of the past... The good news on the other hand is that Windows 10 editions have been drastically cut down to just Core, Pro and Enterprise in the current schema (although all previous Win 8 editions, apart from WMC, are supported) ...with only Pro as an OEM version - it may change come GA release but here's hoping...

Yeah, that was a nice easy mod so all you needed was two images, a 64 bit and a 32 bit. One of the first things I did when a new Windows 7 ISO came out.
 
Last edited:

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 10 Education 64 Bit
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    System Manufacturer/Model
    Asus
    CPU
    AMD Phenom II X4 980 Black Edition Deneb 3.7GHz
    Motherboard
    ASUS M4N68T-M V2 µATX Motherboard
    Memory
    8GB 4GBx2 Kingston PC10600 DDR3 1333 Memory
    Graphics Card(s)
    NVIDIA Geforce GT640 2 Gig DDR3 PCIe
    Sound Card
    VIA VT1708s High Definition Audio 8-channel Onboard
    Monitor(s) Displays
    22" LG E2242 1080p and 2 19" I-INC AG191D
    Screen Resolution
    1280x1024 - 1920x1080 - 1280x1024
    Hard Drives
    Crucial MX100 256 GB SSD and 500 GB WD Blue SATA
    PSU
    Thermaltake TR 620
    Case
    Power Up Black ATX Mid-Tower Case
    Cooling
    Stock heatsink fan
    Keyboard
    Logitech Wireless K350 Wave
    Mouse
    Logitech M570 Trackball and T650 TouchPad
    Internet Speed
    80 Mbps Down 30 Mbps Up
    Browser
    Internet Explorer 11
    Antivirus
    Windows Defender
    Other Info
    HP DVD1040e Lightscribe - External USB2

Superfly

Developer
VIP Member
Guru
Alpha, I may be misinterpreting your setup, but if one leaves the Edition section blank in the ei.cfg - it will display a selection of editions during setup ... anyway that was how I got Windows 10 Home edition installed from the official ISO.
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    PC-DOS v1.0
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    System Manufacturer/Model
    IBM
    CPU
    Intel 8088, 4.77MHz
    Memory
    16K, 640K max
    Graphics Card(s)
    What's that?
    Sound Card
    Not quite
    Screen Resolution
    80 X 24 text
    Hard Drives
    dual 160KB 5.25-inch disk drives

alphanumeric

slightly off center
VIP Member
Guru
Gold Member
Alpha, I may be misinterpreting your setup, but if one leaves the Edition section blank in the ei.cfg - it will display a selection of editions during setup ... anyway that was how I got Windows 10 Home edition installed from the official ISO.

You'd know more about modifying the ei.cfg than I do. My comment in the post before yours was in reference to Windows 7. I haven't done anything with Windows 10 as far as the ei.cfg file goes. I haven't really done much in 8 either. I think I added one once to get trial mode but that's about it. My laptop has an 8.0 Core embedded key. To install Pro on a clean install I have to either add a PID.txt file with Pro key to my MSDN ISO, or use the Pro MCT download. Otherwise I have to install Core and then upgrade to Pro through add features. I could add an ei.cfg to lock into Pro but I'd still have to enter a Pro key so the PID.txt file is just easier.
 

My Computer

System One

  • OS
    Windows 10 Education 64 Bit
    Computer type
    PC/Desktop
    System Manufacturer/Model
    Asus
    CPU
    AMD Phenom II X4 980 Black Edition Deneb 3.7GHz
    Motherboard
    ASUS M4N68T-M V2 µATX Motherboard
    Memory
    8GB 4GBx2 Kingston PC10600 DDR3 1333 Memory
    Graphics Card(s)
    NVIDIA Geforce GT640 2 Gig DDR3 PCIe
    Sound Card
    VIA VT1708s High Definition Audio 8-channel Onboard
    Monitor(s) Displays
    22" LG E2242 1080p and 2 19" I-INC AG191D
    Screen Resolution
    1280x1024 - 1920x1080 - 1280x1024
    Hard Drives
    Crucial MX100 256 GB SSD and 500 GB WD Blue SATA
    PSU
    Thermaltake TR 620
    Case
    Power Up Black ATX Mid-Tower Case
    Cooling
    Stock heatsink fan
    Keyboard
    Logitech Wireless K350 Wave
    Mouse
    Logitech M570 Trackball and T650 TouchPad
    Internet Speed
    80 Mbps Down 30 Mbps Up
    Browser
    Internet Explorer 11
    Antivirus
    Windows Defender
    Other Info
    HP DVD1040e Lightscribe - External USB2

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