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We bought 8 clean computers (even without HDD) with the same hardware and bought eight Windows 7 Pro OEM disks.

Now I prepare one Win7 installation without activation but with all required programs, settings, etc. Then I'm going to clone the image to other computers even without sysprepping. I'm going to change the product key to legal number at COA sticker on each computer and make the activation through the Internet. Will this scenario work?

I know that OEM's license agreement forbids the image cloning and the actions I'm going to do breaks the agreement. According the license agreement I should make the manual clean install of Win7 on each computer. But how Microsoft and other viewers can determine the cloning fact?

All computers are the same and license Win7 DVDs are also the same. However in my case the installation time also will the same (and may be kind of installation code or something else) and this is not good.

Will the Win7 activation work?

Can I be sure that activation will not damage after some time?

Can Microsoft determine the cloning fact during the activation process?

Thank you.

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4 Answers 4

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Yes, this'll work fine. There were some notes about possible security issues comes with same system SID, but I didn't find a proof that it's really a problem.

You may use sysprep to change SID and slmgr.vbs to automate process of activation. 'sysprep' will also ask you for new key.

you also need to change Computer Name so it wont conflict.

There are definitely no issues, when you change licence key for each station.

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Well, if Microsoft allows same key from most popular torrent to be used for 3+ years, they certainly won't care. And AFAIK you're allowed to make backup copies of the drive for your own use.

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There's a big difference between corporate and OEM licence keys and yes Microsoft cares. With OEM keys there is a limited number of activations. –  week Nov 7 '13 at 7:42

You have completely different issue here. Nobody will care from MSFT whether your OSs were cloned or not. You have a problem that you don't have the right to have legally OEM Windows 7 which is not pre installed on machine prior to selling.

You are not allowed to buy and install OEM Windows 7 unless you are system builder. The only legal way for end users to have Windows 7 OEM is to buy it pre-installed on computer. it's not allowed to end user to install Windows 7 OEM, unless he is system builder and intent to sell it with computer

Crazy thing is that you can still buy OEM versions of Windows 7, but you cannot install that copy of Windows 7 on a PC you are building for yourself

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In fact we play the system builder role. We buy computer, install Win7, WinCC SCADA and other programs and sell this computer to another enterprise with sensors, controllers and so on. Why Microsoft sells OEM versions in usual shop to end-user if he can't install it? Anyway, my question not about legality but about opportunity to clone the OEM image without any functional restrictions and update problems. –  SWin Nov 7 '13 at 17:45

TL;DR: Since you have identical hardware this will work.

However I do recommend uysing sysprep. That way you will get an unique ID per computer, an unique name per computer and you can set it to ask for registration. Thus there is no chance to forget any of these.

And if you create a base image with all the updates already installed (and then sysprep and imageX/ghost/dd/whatever) then you also have a nice backup. You could even create a second image with some of your programs already preinstalled.


OEM legality:

You can install an OEM licenced win7 on any computer (not just preinstalled) as long as it not has been installed on another computer. When it comes to OEM, the license will be locked to that specific motherboard. You do not need to install it on a new computer or be a reseller to do this with an OEM version. It just means that you can not phone Microsoft for help if you run into any problems (for that you phone your OEM provider. In this case yourself).

This is a change since windows XP OEM which had quite different rules which did not allow this.

If you have eight identical PCs then this will work since the computers will look the same. If you use an unlicensed base image (sysprep!) then you can even use different hardware (e.g. different amount and nicely register them all with the right CoA/key.

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@Hannes - What you are saying about OEM legality is not true and is quite missleading. Windows 7 OEM can be used only to be pre-installed on computers for further sale. While in case of Windows XP and previous were allowed for individuals to use OEM for building their own systems in a way that MS will treat them as System builders, this is not the case for Windows 7. Windows 7 OEM can be considered as legal only if it's bought with a computer where it is pre-installed on and there are no exceptions here. –  Nikola Dimitrijevic Nov 7 '13 at 11:53

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