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I just had two new Lenovo laptops come in. They came new from a reputable vendor in all original packing with factory seal I had to break to get at the actual machines. Windows XP Pro was pre-installed, and they include Windows 7 Pro media (they should have Windows 7 Pro licenses factory downgraded to Windows XP Pro, so that is all correct). Windows Genuine Advantage installed okay while applying updates and hasn't compained yet. I was never prompted for activation, but that's not entirely unusual for large OEMs like Lenovo. Everything works great and seems legit...

...except that there are no Windows product keys or CoA stickers anywhere that I can find. Are these really "non-genuine"? If so, what steps do I need to take to rectify the situation? What happens if I need to re-install XP, or when it comes time to upgrade to 7?

Update:
So the consensus is that these probably are genuine? I know how to get a product key out of the systems if it comes to that, but I represent an corporate IT department and so before I do I want to make sure things are nice and legit. Also, will the product key I extract from Windows XP work for the Windows 7 upgrade, does the 7 install not need a key, or is it something else?

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7 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Did you check under the case where the battery goes? It's an odd place, but I did notice that Lenovo placed them there on a recent ThinkPad Edge I was servicing.

As for reactivation after reinstallation, assuming you reinstall with their version (i.e. not a "clean" retail/OEM disc), it should automatically "activate".

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It may also be possible that your laptop has a recovery partition that stores a backup, default Windows installation. You would never be asked to enter a product key anywhere because the OEM version has it 'built-in', and the key is not going to work with vanilla Windows installations anyway.

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There's definitely a recovery partition for XP. But I'm also concerned about the eventual update to 7. –  Joel Coehoorn Jul 8 '10 at 21:56
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Contact Lenovo and request a set of Recovery DVD's for each OS and each particular system if they are different, these recovery DVD's will reinstall the OS with drivers and software, it will have the key already installed and pre-activated if you use the Lenovo Recovery DVD's.

No, the XP key will not work for W7

Some Lenovo Systems now have a media creator that can make these recovery discs, check your All programs list.

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I have the win7 recovery dvds. So you're saying that's all I need then, it won't ask for a key to go with them? Also - I have two matched laptops with identical dvds. Do I need to keep both dvds (and all future dvds) so the product keys match up? Normally I only keep the first three sets of media for a specific model and toss all the rest. –  Joel Coehoorn Jul 9 '10 at 1:49
    
1. Thats my understanding 2. I don't think it matters, my understanding is OEMs use a Volume Licence Key that is verified during installation by checking the bios. I would keep the W7 media just in case. –  Moab Jul 9 '10 at 13:42
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The lack of sticker does not mean that they're not genuine (although it casts a poor light on the manufacturer). Windows Genuine Advantage would complain at you pretty quickly if things weren't all right. To find your keys, use programs like Magical Jelly Bean Keyfinder (although there are others floating around the Internet, I'm sure):

http://www.magicaljellybean.com/keyfinder/

These programs extract the key from the Windows registry.

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I've had WGA give wine a green light, so I'd not trust it to know the difference. –  Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams Jul 8 '10 at 23:07
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There are programs that your can download in order to get the specific key of the computer. If you'd rather get a hard copy, you should phone to manufacturer and ask.

Program links:

http://www.magicaljellybean.com/keyfinder/

http://wpkf.codeplex.com/

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An OEM must deliver the CoA with a pre-installed system to the end user. We buy hundreds of Lenovos and have never had this problem. I bet it was just some mix up with a small batch. I bet that a quick call to Lenovo support will have some CoAs on their way to you the very next day.

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If you're like me and likely to wipe and reinstall windows at some point, it's worth backing up your activation tokens for later restoration, I find this program works perfectly: http://joshcellsoftwares.com/products/advancedtokensmanager/

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