An OS dilemna

prroots

Well-Known Member
#1
I intend to help select a new laptop for my sister-in-law. As part of this service I rebuild the computer by repartitioning hard drive into C: and D:, formatting both partitions, and installing a clean copy of the OS from the included DVD. Subsequently I use Acronis True Image to make a fully customized backup image. Recently I have used Dell laptops since they have always included the OS DVD in the box. I just learned that they no longer do this. I'm looking for suggestions. I see two possibilities:
- Find a mfg that still includes the OS on DVD in the box
- Purchase an OS separately

The second option suggests a substantially higher cost unless I can find a highly discounted laptop and/or a highly discounted OS. In effect this option has me buying the OS twice! Any and all ideas welcome. Thanks
Pete
 


patcooke

Microsoft MVP
Staff member
Premium Supporter
Microsoft MVP
#2
If the laptop comes with Windows installed, I expect it will also have a recovery partition from which you can burn recovery disks. As you have mentioned, you can also use Acronis to maintain clones of the op sys - I don't see why you feel you need to buy an op sys separately.
 


reghakr

Essential Member
#3
You're exactly right if the computer came with a factory-installed recovery partitions.

I don't see any other work around.
 


john3347

Extraordinary Member
Premium Supporter
#4
I intend to help select a new laptop for my sister-in-law. As part of this service I rebuild the computer by repartitioning hard drive into C: and D:, formatting both partitions, and installing a clean copy of the OS from the included DVD. Subsequently I use Acronis True Image to make a fully customized backup image. Recently I have used Dell laptops since they have always included the OS DVD in the box. I just learned that they no longer do this. I'm looking for suggestions. I see two possibilities:
- Find a mfg that still includes the OS on DVD in the box
- Purchase an OS separately

The second option suggests a substantially higher cost unless I can find a highly discounted laptop and/or a highly discounted OS. In effect this option has me buying the OS twice! Any and all ideas welcome. Thanks
Pete



Just a couple more possibilities!

Most computer mass marketers offer a system DVD for a price generally in the $10 to $20 range. This would be an additional option much preferable to buying a retail copy of the OS. The installation key that you have on the sticker on your computer would work with the manufacturer supplied DVD if available. (You have already bought the OS with your computer purchase. You only need the DVD that contains the OS you have bought.) You could even borrow an install DVD if you have a friend who has one of the same edition as installed on your computer. Just use the installation key that belongs to your computer.
 


prroots

Well-Known Member
#5
If the laptop comes with Windows installed, I expect it will also have a recovery partition from which you can burn recovery disks. As you have mentioned, you can also use Acronis to maintain clones of the op sys - I don't see why you feel you need to buy an op sys separately.
Thanks for the feedback. Laptops come loaded with so-called 'bloatware'. When one does a clean install all the 'bloatware' is eliminated. This is the reason I need the MS OS on DVD
 


prroots

Well-Known Member
#6
Just a couple more possibilities!

Most computer mass marketers offer a system DVD for a price generally in the $10 to $20 range. This would be an additional option much preferable to buying a retail copy of the OS. The installation key that you have on the sticker on your computer would work with the manufacturer supplied DVD if available. (You have already bought the OS with your computer purchase. You only need the DVD that contains the OS you have bought.) You could even borrow an install DVD if you have a friend who has one of the same edition as installed on your computer. Just use the installation key that belongs to your computer.
I would gladly pay the extra. I just spoke with a Dell salesman and he quoted $159. Of course, at that price I'm purchasing a second OS. Thanks, but no thanks. He insisted that I could not simply purchase a copy of the OS that was already installed. If you know of any brand that provides for a copy on DVD I would be most appreciative. Thanks again.
 


prroots

Well-Known Member
#7
I just got an HP salesman on the chat line. They confirmed that they do not include the MS OS on DVD. Apparently, they have no option to purchase a copy either. Online I've found Windows 7 Home Premium DVDs starting at $74. Seems a shame to purchase a second copy after having already purchased one as part of the laptop. I hope someone can offer a solution.

Edit: it seems logical that Microsoft would make available a copy for a nominal price since the laptop includes a legitimate product key. Unfortunately, I suspect that logic does not apply!
 


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patcooke

Microsoft MVP
Staff member
Premium Supporter
Microsoft MVP
#8
If bloatware is your main concern I'd just do as I've always done - clean it up by uninstalling, deleteig files, directories etc and creating a cleaned up image using Acronis True Image.
 


Joe S

Excellent Member
#9
No real disk is also annoying if you want to slipstream updates and make an updated clean install at some point later on.
Joe
 


prroots

Well-Known Member
#10
If bloatware is your main concern I'd just do as I've always done - clean it up by uninstalling, deleteig files, directories etc and creating a cleaned up image using Acronis True Image.
Coincidentally, I happened to see the results of doing what you suggest vs a clean install. Your suggestions resulted in the loss of 10 GB in disk space compared to the clean install; a huge percentage difference. I can't say where the 10GB went, but it's commonly known that many uninstalls are not very effective. I did not think to test or compare memory utilization or speed. I would expect there would be a huge difference there as well. The point being that with a clean install the computer is as lean and mean as it possibly can be. Why compromise when the created images will last for the life of the machine (or until MS releases the next OS whichever comes first!)?
 


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prroots

Well-Known Member
#11
No real disk is also annoying if you want to slipstream updates and make an updated clean install at some point later on.
Joe
Very true; I recall doing that several times with the release of each new XP service pack. I'm still hoping that someone can provide the name of a computer manufacturer who still includes the OS on DVD or lacking that offers it as an option at nominal cost. I've verified that neither Dell nor HP offer that option.
 


reghakr

Essential Member
#12
Be aware............If you do purchase a copy of Windows 7, it will not contain any of the 3rd party programs that came pre-installled with your computer.
 


Joe S

Excellent Member
#13
If you had a legit manufacturer's key could you activate an install form an OEM disk with it? Or would you need to edit some files and make a new ISO? I think this was possible on XP.
Joe
 


prroots

Well-Known Member
#14
Am I the only one with this issue? I must say that once you have performed a clean Windows install followed by a backup image, you will never go back to the 'out of the box' bloatware! I typically make a minimum of 3 images during the build: 1) Windows installed, activated, and updated, 2) Security software installed, and 3) Apps installed. If in the future I decide on a different mix of apps, I can, within 15 minutes, revert back to image #2. If I change eg, my Antivirus software I must revert back to image #1. I typically restore twice/year as new and better apps become available. This keeps my computer constantly refreshed and eliminates the build-up of inevitable debris which slows down the computer and gradually fills the hard drive. The other advantage is that I'm not afraid to download and install new software given the fact that if disappointed I can quickly restore.

It might interest some to know how I begun this path. We were cruising offshore on a sailboat and running proprietary navigation software which allowed a finite number of installs. At one point I had re-installed the software enough times so that I was on my very last install. I called the company to get help; we couldn't risk being without our navigation software in the middle of the ocean. The tech rep told me on the QT that I should burn an image of my hard drive and then if anything should go wrong simply restore. He told me that the best time to make the image was immediately after a clean install of the OS and critical apps. I wonder to this day why I hadn't thought of that on my own!
 


prroots

Well-Known Member
#15
If you had a legit manufacturer's key could you activate an install form an OEM disk with it? Or would you need to edit some files and make a new ISO? I think this was possible on XP.
Joe
Thanks for the feedback. I did have one experience trying to do a clean install on a Sony laptop that didn't work out. The laptop didn't come with the OS on DVD, so I installed from a (borrowed) retail copy of Windows 7 Home Premium (64 bit) and tried to activate with the legitimate key on the bottom of the Sony laptop. It didn't work. The laptop came with Windows 7 Home Premium (64 bit) installed so it wasn't a case of trying to install a different version. I surmised that I would have needed an OEM copy, but never had the opportunity to verify. It is for this reason that it is best to get the copy of OS directly from manufacturer to ensure compatibility.
 


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patcooke

Microsoft MVP
Staff member
Premium Supporter
Microsoft MVP
#16
Depends on how much cleaning you manage to do I suppose but my Win 7 64 bit system drive occupies only 18GB with a substantial base of applications installed. Nonetheless I agree with you that having paid for a product you should not have to put up with bloatware pollution nor should you have to go to all the trouble of trying to clean it up. It is akin to the stickers planted on a brand new car which I bought, advertising the retailer's business. When I went to collect the vehicle I told him that before accepting the car he would either have to remove them all restoring it back to its original state or pay me advertising fees - he took em all off!
 


prroots

Well-Known Member
#17
Well said! I happen to subscribe to all of the free newsletters from Kim Komando (The Kim Komando Show - Free Tips, Downloads, Reviews, Software and Advice for Your Digital Lifestyle). On a daily basis she recommends free software (that she certifies to be spyware-free). I often download, install, and test the recommended software. More often than not I decide, for one reason or not, that the software is not worth using on a long term basis. I then restore from my App image. The fact that I have the images encourages me to download and install software for evaluation. I would not be nearly as willing to do this if I had to rely on the uninstall capability built-into Windows. One needs to remember that the uninstall feature is dependent on the author of the software in question. Therefore, it may or may not clean the Registry, hard drive, etc. This is easy to prove by doing a 'regedit' (before and after the uninstall) and searching on the name of the software. More often than not, the entries remain after the uninstall.

We have another very important reason for performing the clean install with image backup. We support several family members that are computer-illiterate. They live thousands of miles away. We created image backups following a clean install when their computers were new. They have a one page hard copy procedure on how to do a restore. Thus, whenever they corrupt their computers, they simply run the procedure and are back online within 15 minutes. In most cases it would have been impossible to repair their computers given the total lack of information relating to how the problems originally developed. For simple problems we use the free TeamViewer to log onto their computer and make adjustments eg, sort their email Inbox by Date and not Title!
 


Veegertx

Extraordinary Member
#18
If you had a legit manufacturer's key could you activate an install form an OEM disk with it? Or would you need to edit some files and make a new ISO? I think this was possible on XP.
Joe
Yes. You only need to modify 1 file on the 7 dvd so I copy to HD and basically delete it. ei.cfg in the sources folder tell's what version and if Oem. Looks something like this
[EditionID]
Ultimate
[Channel]
Retail
[VL]
0

Now with that done you can install any of the versions from the dvd. Every dvd I have looked at are identical except 64 will have 4 versions where x86 has starter also for 5 versions.

You must capture the actual key and certificate from an already installed computer either Mak or retail. Paymyrent Token restore for mak keys and retail

If it is a slic 2.1 bios you only need the actual captured key and the OEM.xrm-ms placed in the sources\$OEM$\$$\System32\OEM folder and it's activated automatically on an OEM

There are vbs scripts will capture the actual key out there just Bing it. In for a shock when you see the key it captures is not the same as sticker only rarely.

Edit: you can type slmgr.vbs -dlv in a command window to display whether it is a slp version. Look at Description: and near end it will have OEM_SLP channel

Edit2: save as key.vbs
Code:
'  ##############################################################
 '  #        #
 '  # VBScript to find the DigitalProductID for your  #
 '  # Microsoft windows Installation and decode it to  #
 '  # retrieve your windows Product Key    #
 '  #        #
 '  # -----------------------------------------------  #
 '  #        #
 '  #  Created by:  Parabellum   #
 '  #        #
 '  ##############################################################
 '
 ' <--------------- Open Registry Key and populate binary data into an array -------------------------->
 '
 const HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE = &H80000002 
 strKeyPath = "SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion"
 strValueName = "DigitalProductId"
 strComputer = "."
 dim iValues()
 Set oReg=GetObject("winmgmts:{impersonationLevel=impersonate}!\\" & _ 
       strComputer & "\root\default:StdRegProv")
 oReg.GetBinaryValue HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE,strKeyPath,strValueName,iValues
 Dim arrDPID
 arrDPID = Array()
 For i = 52 to 66
 ReDim Preserve arrDPID( UBound(arrDPID) + 1 )
 arrDPID( UBound(arrDPID) ) = iValues(i)
 Next
 ' <--------------- Create an array to hold the valid characters for a microsoft Product Key -------------------------->
 Dim arrChars
 arrChars = Array("B","C","D","F","G","H","J","K","M","P","Q","R","T","V","W","X","Y","2","3","4","6","7","8","9")
 
 ' <--------------- The clever bit !!! (Decrypt the base24 encoded binary data)-------------------------->
 For i = 24 To 0 Step -1
 k = 0
 For j = 14 To 0 Step -1
  k = k * 256 Xor arrDPID(j)
  arrDPID(j) = Int(k / 24)
  k = k Mod 24
 Next
 strProductKey = arrChars(k) & strProductKey
 ' <------- add the "-" between the groups of 5 Char -------->
 If i Mod 5 = 0 And i <> 0 Then strProductKey = "-" & strProductKey
 Next
 strFinalKey = strProductKey
 '
 ' <---------- This part of the script displays operating system Information and the license Key --------->
 '
 strComputer = "."
 Set objWMIService = GetObject("winmgmts:" _
    & "{impersonationLevel=impersonate}!\\" & strComputer & "\root\cimv2")
 Set colOperatingSystems = objWMIService.ExecQuery _
    ("Select * from Win32_OperatingSystem")
 For Each objOperatingSystem in colOperatingSystems
    strOS   = objOperatingSystem.Caption
    strBuild   = objOperatingSystem.BuildNumber
    strSerial   = objOperatingSystem.SerialNumber
    strRegistered  = objOperatingSystem.RegisteredUser
 Next
 Set wshShell=CreateObject("wscript.shell")
 strPopupMsg = strOS & vbNewLine & vbNewLine
 strPopupMsg = strPopupMsg & "Build Number:  " & strBuild & vbNewLine
 strPopupMsg = strPopupMsg & "PID:  " & strSerial & vbNewLine & vbNewLine
 strPopupMsg = strPopupMsg & "Registered to:  " & strRegistered & vbNewLine & vbNewLine & vbNewLine
 strPopupMsg = strPopupMsg & "Your Windows Product Key is:" & vbNewLine & vbNewLine & strFinalKey
 strPopupTitle = "Microsoft Windows License Information"
 wshShell.Popup strPopupMsg,,strPopupTitle,vbCancelOnly+vbinformation
 WScript.Quit
 


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prroots

Well-Known Member
#19
Yes. You only need to modify 1 file on the 7 dvd so I copy to HD and basically delete it. ei.cfg in the sources folder tell's what version and if Oem. Looks something like this
[EditionID]
Ultimate
[Channel]
Retail
[VL]
0

Now with that done you can install any of the versions from the dvd. Every dvd I have looked at are identical except 64 will have 4 versions where x86 has starter also for 5 versions.
That's very interesting. I have a Windows 7 Home Premium (64 bit) DVD which I wish to use for a clean install on a brandnew laptop that did not come with an OS on DVD. This is the ei.cfg file:
[EditionID]
HomePremium
[Channel]
Retail
[VL]
0


I can certainly copy the entire DVD to HDD and delete the ei.cfg file. I'm confused by what I do next so that it can be used for the clean install?

You lost me with the rest of your post, but could I use something like Belarc Advisor (http://www.belarc.com/free_download.html) to recover the key? I just ran it on my computer and it gave 2 keys: one was the same as sticker and the other was composed of all digits (ie, no letters) in the form of xxxxx-yyy-zzzzzzz-kkkkk. This happened to be a computer running Windows 7 Professional (32 bit). Thanks.
Pete
Thanks
Pete
 


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Veegertx

Extraordinary Member
#20
Just run the script and it will show the key for your installed OS.
EDIT: You cannot use the key from your installed Ultimate system on another system.

If you going to install Premium then no need to modify the ei.cfg but you will need your Premium key. Once installed and activated you could save them items for a future clean install.

I got out my Dell upgrade dvd they sent from Vista 64 to 7 64 which is also premium. I compared to that MS Technet dvd and they are identical except the ei.cfg and this disk is an OEM.
[EditionID]
HomePremium
[Channel]
OEM
[VL]
0

You can see mine is OEM and yours is Retail
 


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