Looking for solid confirmation on how Windows(XP,Vista,7,8) OEM can be reinstalled/activated

Windows XP (Home/Professional) OEM(SLP) (Dell, HP etc.)


  • GRTMHOEM_EN.iso (Generic Home OEM)
  • en_windows_xp_home_with_service_pack_3_x86_cd_x14-92413.iso
  • GRTMPOEM_EN.iso (Generic Professional OEM)
  • en_windows_xp_professional_with_service_pack_3_x86_cd_x14-80428.iso

Install using any media that matches version, use Windows Key Update Tool to activate it as Retail or OEM based on key provided. (True/False)?

Old Method Create vendor specific OEM installer

  1. Backup OEM files from target PC

    • C:\Windows\system32\OEMBIOS.BIN
    • C:\Windows\system32\OEMBIOS.DAT
    • C:\Windows\system32\OEMBIOS.SIG
    • C:\Windows\system32\Catroot{F750E6C3-38EE-11D1-85E5-00C04FC295EE}\OEMBIOS.CAT
  2. Create .CAB files of target PC files

  3. Replace generic OEM ISOs \i386 files with newly created .CAB files

  4. Install using COA key


  1. Backup Activation Files before reinstall

    • C:\Windows\system32\wpa.dbl
    • C:\Windows\system32\Wpa.bak
  2. Rename Existing & Replace with backup files after reinstall

    • C:\Windows\system32\wpa.dbl
    • C:\Windows\system32\Wpa.bak

Windows Vista/7 (ALL) Retail/OEM (Dell, HP etc.)


  • en_windows_vista_sp2_x64_dvd_342267.iso
  • en_windows_vista_with_sp2_x86_dvd_342266.iso
  • en_windows_7_ultimate_with_sp1_x64_dvd_u_677332.iso (ei.cfg removed)
  • en_windows_7_ultimate_with_sp1_x86_dvd_u_677460.iso (ei.cfg removed)


  1. Backup activation using ABR (Activation Backup and Restore)
  2. Reinstall version on COA sticker
  3. Do not enter key during installation
  4. Restore backed up activation files using ABR
  5. If files not backed up, use online or phone activation

Windows 8 (ALL) Retail/OEM (Dell, HP etc.)


  • en_windows_8_x64_dvd_915440.iso
  • en_windows_8_x86_dvd_915417.iso

Just reinstall, activation is taken care of via BIOS(No COA) or use purchased key if you upgraded.

Can anyone confirm/deny the validity of these methods or make suggestions on how to better accomplish activation after a reinstall? I am mainly concerned with XP since the information I have found is rather scattered and I am not sure if its possible to activate a "royalty free OEM" using a generic OEM/retail disk install and Windows Key Update Tool or if I would need to use one of the old methods of backing up the files and altering the install disk.

If there are any known issues with activation on any version using the windows images/techniques I listed can someone please elaborate on them. I am asking because I started a new job that requires re-installing every version of windows on various computers that have OEM and retail versions.

The information I gathered on various forums is rather scattered and contradicting, this is why I am posting this seemingly stupid question that you may think has been answered a million times. I want someone to give me a definitive response so I don't screw someones computer up by remove necessary OEM files.

  • Would be nice if you would specify the reason for the down vote. I am looking for confirmation on information that is scattered and contradicting on various forums.
    – Riguez
    Jan 22 '13 at 15:33
  • -1 What exactly is your problem? I've never had a problem with a legitimate OEM install of Windows, never needed to backup files etc. It sounds like you've made it way more complicated than it needs to be. Get OEM media (if necessary): then install Windows. Jan 28 '13 at 2:10
  • I find it funny that this question was down voted multiple times but with a 200 point bounty on it no one has answered it.
    – Riguez
    Feb 2 '13 at 18:57
  • That's because your question is about a problem that doesn't exist. Want to reinstall Windows and use an OEM license? Install using the OEM media, supply the OEM key (if necessary) and activate it. Feb 3 '13 at 6:20
  • See my answer, you suddenly something will help, but it does not match the format.) In general it is removed))).
    – STTR
    Feb 3 '13 at 12:18


To install on "royalty free OEM" machines (HP, DELL, etc.) you can get the vendor's oembios files from the oembios repository, or backed up from the current installation.

You then need to use the SLP (system locked preinstallation) key that corresponds to the installation media's product ID. These used to be archived on the My Digital Life forums, but were taken down due to DMCA request. I'm not sure if the particular vendor key is required, or if those provided by Microsoft will work. If you still have the original installation from the OEM, you can extract the SLP key they used for installation from the registry using a tool like produkey.

(Most antivirus seems to complain about produkey, but I've never had issues with it.)

nLite can help you create the ISO and be very useful for testing in a VM, but it's quite a bit more difficult to test the SLP activation with the VM.

  • The OEMBios repository links are mostly dead or linked to certificate files. Do you know if I can use the royalty keys/extracted keys with a generic OEM install disk? Or do I need to replace the OEMBIOS files in the i386 folder as listed above.
    – Riguez
    Jan 22 '13 at 1:58
  • I know the SLP key won't activate with a generic OEM disc, but I think that you can drop the SLP files in after the install and reboot to get activation. I haven't tried in long enough to remember if the SLP key will install with an OEM disc, but if it won't, you can just change the key after you get a successful install to change to SLP activation.
    – opello
    Jan 22 '13 at 2:00
  • are the files I listed above the SLP files that need to be replaced for the SLP key to work?
    – Riguez
    Jan 22 '13 at 2:07
  • Yup. I noticed this post in the past, but have never bothered using this method regarding the compression: forums.mydigitallife.info/threads/…
    – opello
    Jan 22 '13 at 2:13

Windows 8/8.1

After a fresh install, the system does not auto activate and when one tries to enter the correct OEM Product Key (extracted from BIOS), it is refused. The trick is to first remove the current Product Key with slmgr /upk, then the OEM key can be entered and activation works flawlessly. This idea comes from Clean install Windows 8.1 or Windows 8 from OEM key, which also describes how to get the OEM key using RW Everything (including video tutorial!). Really this has saved me several hours, maybe days of experimenting. If you find it helpful, please upvote that answer instead of this one.

I also created a small PowerShell script to accomplish all the steps in a fully automated manner, which is great for mass OS deployments (e.g. using the amazing OPSI):

$key=(Get-WmiObject -Class SoftwareLicensingService).OA3xOriginalProductKey
iex "cscript /b C:\windows\system32\slmgr.vbs /upk"
iex "cscript /b C:\windows\system32\slmgr.vbs /ipk $key"
iex "cscript /b C:\windows\system32\slmgr.vbs /ato"

Successfully (re)installed and activated 64 Win 8.1 Pro x64 OEM laptops with this.


Windows 7

I found this techdoors link on activating Windows 7 with OEM licenses to be invaluable.

If you have a computer that has an Windows 7 OEM license embedded in the BIOS SLIC area, and then reinstall a generic image, it will claim to be not genuine. To verify, run this command from a cmd prompt with administrator privs:

slmgr.vbs /dlv

It will say "License Status: Notification", and "Notification Reason: 0xC004F063".

To fix that, find the proper OEM key file from this repository from the link above, and then run:

slmgr.vbs /ilc [VENDOR].xrm-ms

where [VENDOR] is the name of your computer vendor.

Now run

slmgr.vbs /dlv

again, and it should say "License Status: Licensed".

To check your BIOS SLIC area, you can use the Microsoft Genuine Diagnostics Tool and look in the "OEM Activation 2.0 Data" section.


For Windows 7, I had to use these commands:

slmgr.vbs /upk 

slmgr.vbs /ilc [VENDOR].xrm-ms 


slmgr.vbs /**ato**

slmgr.vbs /dlv #showed that Windows was indeed activated


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