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I've got a new HP laptop, and once I removed all the default HP junk that's on there, it now has trouble booting. I'm intended to just reformat the thing completely and start fresh with a real installation of Windows, but before I do that I want to get in there and run a utility to find out what the Windows serial key is. But in order to do that, I need to be able to boot into it in the first place!

I've tried pressing F8 repeatedly, holding it down, etc., but it won't even give me any options to choose at all. It just tries booting Windows normally each time no matter how I try to press F8. So I'm wondering if there are any boot CDs out there that simply force Windows to go directly into Safe Mode. Surely this should be possible, but I'm not so sure if anyone's made that kind of utility. Obviously I'm looking for something I can find as an ISO image.

Is there any such disc available?

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Sounds like some of that HP stuff was not junk after all. – Moab Aug 25 '11 at 19:24
Keep in mind that the HP OEM SLP key (which is what you'll get if you manage to pull it from the installed copy) may not work with a NON-HP install disk. – Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007 Aug 25 '11 at 20:14
@ techie007, as long as it is an OEM install disk it will work, which can be found… – Moab Aug 25 '11 at 20:37
@Moab That was actually a typo, I mean to say "Non-OEM". :) – Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007 Aug 25 '11 at 22:08
If you have not deleted the HP Recovery partition, then booting into that partition (use the F11 key) would be the preferred mechanism to getting back to the original machine state. If you install Windows7 with the System Builder OEM DVD, then you will lose a few HP utilities as well as the bloatware. – sawdust Aug 25 '11 at 22:49
up vote 3 down vote accepted

If it's a new HP laptop the windows license code should be on a COA license sticker on the bottom.

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Ah. So it is. <inserts foot into mouth> – SoaperGEM Aug 25 '11 at 19:09
I thought you might be making things more complicated than they should be ;-) – Col Aug 25 '11 at 19:11

If you want to get to safe mode and F8 isn't getting anything, another way to do it would be to edit boot.ini with a Win XP PE CD, and add /SAFEBOOT

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-1 for not reading where it says "Windows 7" in the question. There hasn't been a boot.ini in the Windows NT boot process since before Windows Vista, and what that had and Windows 7 has don't have /SAFEBOOT. – JdeBP Aug 25 '11 at 23:29
@JdeBP you're right re boot.ini. I'm not that familiar with Win7, but Windows 7 does have msconfig which mentions a /safeboot option. See here and apparently there's a bcdedit.exe(that's 7 and of course, not xp), accessible in the recovery console which may help with editing boot options. – barlop Aug 26 '11 at 17:06
No, msconfig doesn't have a /safeboot option and that page nowhere says that it does. – JdeBP Aug 27 '11 at 10:53
@JdeBP Try scrolling down that page, it says "Windows 7" then "Using the F8 method" then scroll down further, and it shows msconfig and even has a picture showing /safeboot, and says "Windows 7 Boot tab in the System Configuration utility" Try the boot tab. According to that page, it is there. – barlop Aug 27 '11 at 11:41
No kiddo, it does not have a picture showing /safeboot for Windows 7. That's in the "Windows XP" section, and it's not an option to msconfig. – JdeBP Aug 27 '11 at 12:43

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