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Our company has just bought 10 Windows 7 machines. We created an image, sysprep'd and then used the image on one of the other pc's.

We used the licence on the side of the box.

Windows then started complaining saying we can't use this licence without phone activation.

I called the number supplied and after giving Microsoft a large activation number they then gave me another large number to put in witch then activated Windows.

Will I have to do this for every single machine?

I used OBE sysprep, if I used the other option would it avoid this hassle? Some research on the Internet suggested this is so dodgy retailers don't sell the PC's and remove and reuse the stickers to save on the amount of licences they have to buy.

Update: I find it hard to believe I have to do this for every machine! These first 10 we're our test, we still have another 50 to go. Microsoft can't expect me to make 60 phone calls can they? I can't even do them all at once as it's not the product key they require it's the activation ID and I only get that after installing and booting windows.

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You will have to do this on each machine. – David Schwartz Apr 30 '12 at 13:03
Note that you are probably already incurring in a possible infringement. You should contact your local Microsoft support and explain to them how you are installing Windows 7 on those 50 machines. Because of your doubts around the activation process, I suspect you don't know exactly what kind of OEM licensing you were given. It's imperative you clear this with them, since you are running a business. – A Dwarf Apr 30 '12 at 14:03
up vote 1 down vote accepted

Yes, you will have to do this on every machine. The Windows version you have is a bulk OEM version. OEM versions ship with computers and allow for a certain number of activations, which is exactly the process you are going through at the phone.

To avoid this hassle, either:

  • Install on the machine only the windows 7 version that comes with that machine.
  • Ask for a Windows 7 Volume License key and use that key instead.

I'm making a final note on the comments section of your question since it's speculative and off-topic.

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