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I recently purchased a new notebook from Dell with Windows 7 Home Premium. The notebook came with lots of bloat and I want to do a fresh install of the OS and add back on, only the apps I want.

The problem is that the computers no longer come with installation discs (I believe these are OEM licenses?)

I have an MSDN account where I can download the installation disc for Windows 7 Home Premium...(I believe these are Retail installation discs, or the equivalent).

I want to use the MSDN installation disc to install the software, but use the key that came with my new computer.

I've read about deleting the ei.cfg on the ISO, but that does not seem to work...it actually corrupts the installation disc to the point where it won't work.

Any suggestions on what can be done here?

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4 Answers

Contrary to popular belief, it is possible in Windows 7 to install with retail media and activate using an OEM key - I've done it many times. If you are having trouble with setting up ei.cfg, look around on SuperUser, there are many questions detailing that process. Once you have the disk working, just install the way you normally would, and when it comes time to activate, put in the key from the bottom of your computer. It will not activate automatically, but if you call the activation center to active by telephone and explain that you're reinstalling Windows, they will activate it for you.

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Same experience here with many HP laptops. Retail disc works fine with the OEM key on the bottom of the laptop. As pointed out by nhinkle the only limitation is the forced phone activation. Also ensure the version you install matches the version stated on the key sticker. Professional disc won't accept a Home key. –  Asinine Monkey Sep 9 '10 at 22:28
    
So I managed to get the ei.cfg file removed using another answer on this site...that seemed to work at first because I was prompted to select which version I wanted to install...unfortunately when it came time to enter my key, the key was rejected. –  Matthew Sep 10 '10 at 13:41
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What manner of rejected? Did you call the activation hotline and activate by phone like I said? If the automatic phone activation still wasn't working, then you need to find a way to speak to a human operator. Usually shouting gibberish at the machine until it gives up is the quickest way to get a person. Then explain to the person what you're doing, and they'll give you the key. Again, you must activate by phone! Automatic internet activation will not work. –  nhinkle Sep 10 '10 at 19:18
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MSDN ISO might be retail but the OEM key on your laptop is not.

You should be able to call Dell and ask them to send you an OS disk but failing that you'd need to use an MSDN key that matches the ISO you are using.

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AFAIK, it's either impossible or highly impractical to use an OEM License with an MSDN DVD, mainly because the OEM key follows a different key hashing algorithm and pings a different server than a retail or MSDN license. In other words, the OEM license goes with an OEM DVD, and ditto for the retail/MSDN version.

I would recommend simply removing the bloat using Revo Uninstaller or PC Decrapifier. Or you can also contact Dell for a DVD, I think if you have a proof of purchase you can invoke something with that.

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The MSDN SKU will not be compatible with the OEM SKU. You cannot activate an MSDN product with anything other than an MSDN Product Key. The MSDN, Retail, and OEM SKU's cannot be mixed, the installation media must match the Product Key SKU (Retail, OEM, or MSDN).

So, it is not possible to use the installation media of an MSDN subscription and then activate it with an OEM Product Key. In fact you will only be able to activate the MSDN installation with an MSDN Product Key.

By the way, I Worked at Microsoft as a contractor supporting all consumer level products for Microsoft. Even if you manage to get the product activated, you will not be able to Validate your copy and you will have other issues such as not being able to download updates and free Microsoft programs. Also, you would eventually end-up with activation issues that could possibly lock you out of your computer.

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This is contrary to the top voted answer.... –  paradd0x Jun 17 '11 at 14:09
    
interesting comment about activation vs validation though. It would be useful to get feedback from users who activated an OEM licence on an MSDN disc. Did they have problems later, with Windows Update, installing Security Essentials (which I think validates windows before installing) etc –  Greg Woods Feb 26 at 9:51
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