• Valid product key is not accepted after clean reinstall.

    What could be the reason of that and how to pass activation process ?


  • install & activate "clean" windows 7 professional (no pre-installed vendor sw)
  • avoid using windows 8.1 if possible
  • avoid moving pre-installed windows 7 professional from hdd to ssd (lots of hp crapware)

Initial conditions

  • hp elitebook 840 G1 laptop with legal & activated Windows 7 Pro installed
  • only Win8.1 Pro DVD / restore & drivers dvds were provided
  • no product key printed on the laptop case
  • initial windows 7 installation shows its status as activated

What I did

  1. Manually install M.2 256 Gb SSD
  2. Get product key using NirSoft viewer
  3. Save activation status using "Advanced Tokens Manager" util
  4. Save complete original HDD image to external HDD
  5. Remove all HDD partitions
  6. Download Windows 7 Pro from MS and write it into USB flash
  7. Install windows 7, enter previously extracted product key
  8. Activation failed
  9. Use "Advanced Tokens Manager" util to restore activation status
  10. Got "activated" status from "my computer" view
  11. Install some win7 updates
  12. Activation status changed to not done
  13. Any further attempts to restore activation via util/by entering key manually have no effect


  • calling MS support is to be avoided if possible, it is quite expensive from my location
  • therefore, downgrade from windows 8.1 requiring such communication is not preferred way as well
  • 2
    How do you know the key is legal? Where did you get it from? – Mokubai Dec 14 '14 at 21:52
  • 1
    OEM, Retail and Volume License versions use different type of keys. Did you install the exactly same product? – Scott Rhee Dec 14 '14 at 22:25
  • @Mokubai - there was a typo at step 2 : replace id with key – Konstantin Dec 14 '14 at 22:49
  • @ScottRhee installation image was taken from official ms service provider - see heidoc.net/joomla/technology-science/microsoft/…, "Windows 7 Professional x64 SP1 U (media refresh)". Just checked product id of currently installed system - it is oem, as well as product id of previous one (as i remember, will verify that tomorrow) – Konstantin Dec 14 '14 at 23:06
  • 2
    You got a generic OEM installer key with Nirsoft, and those keys can't be activated. You need the key from the sticker, or a copy of Windows 7 directly from your OEM. Call your OEM (HP). – Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007 Dec 14 '14 at 23:27

Your laptop was shipped with a Windows 8.1 Pro license that was legally downgraded by the OEM which exercised what Microsoft terms downgrade rights. However, the OEM does this using special volume license keys that you cannot use yourself. Instead, if you wish to reinstall Windows 7 Professional yourself, you will either need to:

  1. Contact the manufacturer and request a Windows 7 product key (this isn't likely to work)
  2. Provide your own Windows 7 product key from another legally licensed Windows 7 computer that you own.

If you choose option 2, automatic activation will probably fail. This is to be expected. In that case, you need to call Microsoft's Product Activation Hotline and explain to them you are exercising the downgrade right of your Windows 8.1 Pro license.

  • You are probably right. "Laptop provided with windows 7 pro" should be read "you can always reset to factory image full of HP crapware" this case. I will try to move previously saved windows 7 to SSD and cleanup it (and take a look at windows 8.1 + classic shell as well). – Konstantin Dec 15 '14 at 10:40

protected by Community Jul 23 '15 at 10:48

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